I was driving home along the Mancunian Way motorway. It was 5:15, rush hour. Two solid lanes of traffic were completely stationary. I knew that my journey home, which takes five minutes on clear roads, would take me at least half an hour tonight. I felt very frustrated, and I imagine all the other drivers did too.
This post is written by Julie Jarman, Church Action on Poverty’s Programme Manager.
Then I heard an ambulance siren approaching from behind. I immediately thought this was bad news – there was no room on the road, there was no way the ambulance would get through.
I was wrong. It turned out there was room. Very quickly, all the cars squeezed themselves to the sides and made a space. Soon the ambulance was on its way.
This was amazing to me, and I wondered about why it was possible. All of those drivers, who a moment before had been trapped, angry and frustrated, suddenly worked together to help somebody else.
They did it because they knew that the ambulance was needed to help somebody. They also knew that one day, it could be them or their family who needed that help. And because our health service is universal, in an emergency that ambulance would be there for every one of them – even the ones who had private health insurance.
And then I thought: why should our benefits system be any different? Our social security system is a safety net which should be there for every single one of us, when something goes wrong or we find ourselves in an emergency. And we should all support that safety net, as quickly and strongly as the drivers who moved out of the way of that ambulance.
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