If you hadn’t noticed we are in the run up to a General Election, the like of which we haven’t seen for perhaps a generation, certainly I’ve never known one quite like this in my 10 years of eligible voting.  Yet it strikes me that we often approach elections with certain frames of reference, frames that are based on our own social context, the experiences that we allow ourselves to have or the bubbles in which we live.  These frames guide our thinking, our politics and our attitudes to those around us, our friends and our families.

So what are some of my frames of references when it comes to looking at the Modern UK?

I’ve grown up in a comfortable, lower-middle class family.  My mum and dad recently went through a divorce, however for 25 years or so family was the typical 2.4 kids, Surrey, suburban model.  My parents were about 30 years old when they had their first child, me and their parents before them were in their late 20’s when they had children.  I’ve never known my grandparents to work full-time, indeed I only remember my maternal grandmother working in Bentalls in Kingston and my paternal grandmother volunteering in hospitals or hospices near where she lives.Ed Balls - schools secretary

For years if my grandparents looked after me it would be across a weekend, so when two of my colleagues heard Ed Balls speak at the Tawney Dialogue earlier on this month, 2 stats that they gleefully recounted to me totally re-framed my understanding of family in the UK.

  1. that the average age of a UK grandmother today is 46
  2. that the average age of a UK single mum is 36

I found the first statistic especially hard to get my head around.  The Telegraph reports that “40% of grandparents now provide some childcare when parents are working, and 70% look after children at other times” so when political discussions about childcare benefits discuss the inclusion or exclusion of grandparents I have to challenge my understanding that it is no longer the silver-haired lady who fits the bill.

is this a single mum?Similarly the second statistic highlights my ill-conceived judgements and prejudices.  A single mum is no longer, and perhaps never was, the teenage girl who had a one night stand or simply didn’t know how to use a condom correctly, but potentially someone who works for a global bluechip, recently divorced or separated or indeed never married.  Of course I may be painting a rosier picture here and there are I’m sure a number of families who struggle on a daily basis however it still shows that I need need to reassess my frames of reference and I’m sure I’m not the only one.

The forthcoming election is going to totally redefine the political landscape in the UK, potentially with a Conservative landslide or more likely at the moment a hung parliament…we live in exciting times and for those of us living in marginal seats our voices will count even more than they usually do.

Find out about your constituency at ukpollingreport.co.uk

Canon 17-40 L LensHow do you see the world?  Do you live life through a particular lens?  One that shapes and colours or one that distorts and clouds?

When you walk down your road do you see friends, family and freedom or do you see homelessness, hoodies and fear?  Where do your thoughts come from, drives your decisions and brings colour to your world?

I live life through a lens – one that inspires me to try and live a life to the full, one of restoration and redemption, of challenge and discomfort, of anger at the way things are and an ultimate hope that life could be so much more.

Sadly I rarely achieve this life and end up living one of comfort, brokeness and something just a bit shallower than I’d like, however this is a daily struggle and I invite you to join me on the journey.

Jay

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