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  • Writer's pictureD. Hunter

Risk Is Relative

Em Hubberstey is currently a student of environmental and social justice; seeking to supply some left-wing hot takes in the form of creative writing and art. Originating from Blackburn and growing up with the realisation of injustices in opportunities for the working class, and is here to support and be part of taking back our voice!

Relative risk refers to the chance of an event occurring, or in this case – the degree to which financial, health and social aspects are worsened by said event within various populations. The event in this case? You guessed it – the highly transmittable viral strain, COVID 19. The ultimate cause? This would be global greed, systemic austerity and intensive animal agricultural processes enforced by national and international puppet masters – our ‘leaders’.

This text undergoes composition as we near the end of a pleasant, blue skied April, transitioning into the beginning of the British summertime. You may be feeling that even the steamy rays of golden combined with an array of air pollutants - typically succeeding in fogging up thought - are unable to block out the worries of our global pandemic. However, the ways in which these worries manifest vary according to subculture and individual privilege.

Those enjoying new-found freedom in a morning jog upon returning to the missus whipping up a Full English for her well-spoken, nuclear family (a skillset she’s bestowed upon herself due to all family-acquainted butlers requiring to self isolate), may simply feel the tickling of boredom and frustration in waiting on their darling rugrats to return to formal schooling. The minds of the elite are able to rest easy, wrapped up snugly in their gated communities with the reassurance of a financial safety net and no necessary requirement of them to engage and mingle within infected communities in order to obtain the basics – food, sanitation, and shelter.

Meanwhile, anxieties and stress dissolve chunks of the working class psychological system. In contrast, those residing just mere metres away – hold on. ‘Mere metres’, despite presenting as adequate healthcare advice for safe distance between individuals, does not serve justice in properly illustrating the figurative worlds away that the less fortunate reside in. Some 30-35% of the population do not possess the luxury of being able to social distance. Spare a thought (ideally one fuelled by inequality-driven rage) for key workers cramming onto what remains of public transport. Our working-class heroes ironically are depended upon to provide healthcare, deliveries of produce, and the construction of safe, secure shelter yet due to systemic oppression, often fail to have these key elements provided for themselves. These are the dwellings which house the less privileged kiddies where completing online schoolwork is challenged by the digital divide. These are the cheaper residencies lacking surrounding greenery and open space – after all, there’s no porch without privilege. The mentally and physically vulnerable; now unable to seek out necessary healthcare in response to fears of being framed as a scrounger of public services.

This piece hopes to shed some light on the relativity of risk in response to a plague, adamant on it’s intent to claim the attention of those belonging to all social status groups whilst presenting an aggressive determination in thriving within a global population. Vague generalisations have been made regarding those at opposite ends of the social ladder. However, the potential risk created by government inaction which failed to halt infectivity rates early enough, a flailing public healthcare system which basks in public ‘appreciation’ rather than the funding so desperately required and lack of protection for front line workers ensuring the cogs of society creak on, appears to encompass the vulnerable and those playing victim to austerity. The working class specifically face larger risk in succumbing to mental health issues and financial dependency with very little to – in fact – depend on. Most significantly, the risk of falling unwell with names becoming numbers as they join the ever growing death statistic appears to loom larger for this demographic.

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