We are being told that we have a "broken society". I find that there is a yawning chasm between the press stories of child killings, chaotic families, and drug or drink-fuelled teenagers and the reality that I encounter locally.
The looming general election is also being introduced with doom-laden speeches about how terrible our society is, which I simply don’t recognise.
To be sure, there are some families with serious problems and even in our own relatively law –abiding borough, there are occasional shocking crimes. But, mostly, we have a healthy society.
Earlier this week I attended, with the Mayor, a Whitton Network tea party to celebrate Valentines Day. The network helps around 300 elderly people who have mobility problems to get around to shops or appointments. They would otherwise be housebound. It depends on volunteers, especially drivers. After a recruitment problem, some years ago, the Network is thriving and the tea party was buzzing with goodwill.
There is a wider community of local voluntary organisations flourishing despite the bad economic news: friends of hospitals; parent-teacher associations; Scouts, arts, music and theatre groups; sport clubs; care groups for the ill, elderly and disabled and carers networks, amenity societies and residents’ groups (like the those mobilising opposition to Royal Park parking charges); and churches, many of which are full of young families.
Hundreds of local people dedicate themselves to fundraising. Sometimes it is a struggle but there is no lack of energy or caring. When the summer fetes come around again they will be well supported by volunteers and the public.
To say that society is broken is not merely wide of the mark but an insult to those to who make it work.