In the Aftermath : Emily and Naomi discuss greed, aspiration and political action


Following the Tory victory there has been much soul-searching amongst our followers about what this is going to mean for the present and future of our work and the wider society.

In this blog, GREED VS MASLOW’S HIERARCHY OF NEEDS Emily Hewson draws on Maslow’s classic triangle of need to explore today’s empty talk of encouraging aspiration.

Over the weekend I’ve heard a lot about needing to give people aspiration. The problem is that it’s currently being thrown around with very little substance. I understand that the Conservative ideology behind all the horrifying cuts is actually around thinking that they think they are creating aspiration for people to climb out of poverty. Of course my concern is that by taking the ladder away, people can’t lift themselves out of poverty very easily because there are far too many obstacles. You then end up with a situation where the gulf between the rich and poor simply gets wider with more and more issues happening in areas where there are less resources and more people in poverty.

It really does feel as though we’ve forgotten a really basic theory – one which any youth and community worker will know like the back of their hand. We all learn this in training, and it’s definitely one which any decent community needs analysis should start with.

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs


There are lots of adapted diagrams out there but I’ve gone with the very basic one Maslow used when he came up with the theory back in 1943. You see, what worries me is that if people are struggling to get their physiological needs met, how on earth are they going to be able to move from the first level at the bottom of the pyramid? They will be stuck there unless we pull them back up. Yet if the services which were in place to pull people back up are cut, who’s left?


Since the moment the exit polls were released at around 10.15pm on Thursday evening, I have been carrying a sense of defeat and despair. Until this morning. Today the anger has taken over – and with it, a determination to do something – many things – to take action. I am not sure exactly what I need to do yet but I know it’s a combination of helping those who will be most affected by five more years of austerity – and of doing my best to make sure that it will only be five more years. No more.

Last week I voted Green. I voted Green because they seemed to best reflect my concerns. For social justice. For reversing the privatisation of health, education, transport. For re-establishing a statutory Youth Service. They seemed to offer more hope than the other left-wing parties. They had the untainted ideals of a minority party. And I live in a safe Tory seat – where I might as well have voted for what I believe most in.

She ends her piece passionately.

Without a statutory commitment to youth work, however, there is no equity of provision for young people and what services are available are patchy and under-funded. Thanks to five years of the Tories, and the next five to come, Youth Services are probably the first public service to be completely wiped out.

That’s why I would rather support the Labour Party and work from within to promote an understanding of what youth work is than see the Conservatives remain in power. The party that destroyed youth work. Tore it to shreds and will now hoover up those last remnants. The party that stigmatises young and vulnerable people. That tells us that if we have a lot it’s because we worked hard and deserve it. But that if we don’t have a lot, it’s because we haven’t worked hard enough. Whilst ignoring the structural inequalities that exist in opportunity, education, employment, support and other resources between rich and poor.

Part of my sadness over the last few days has come from a deep sense of hurt – that some of the people who are closest to me voted for the party that has done so much damage to the young people and services I have spent years standing up for. But, I am done licking my wounds. I am ready to roar.

I WILL see change. I WILL be part of it. I promise.

Lots to think about and discuss here, especially for those of us, who gave up on Labour long ago. I hope you read both blogs in full and enter the debate.


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