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By Chris Marshall
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Lockdown 3.0: White, Middle Class and Middle Aged – The New Endangered Species!

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Lockdown 3.0 continues, as does life, in a well established pattern now. The “trick” it seems is to do less and take longer doing it. To be fair this is something that I have been perfecting for a while now, certainly pre COVID-19, partly through choice, primarily through circumstance.

It is called getting old!

Aged 57, no underlying health conditions, a little over weight, fit (ish), active, and no longer a “significant” consumer of alcohol I have a healthy lifestyle and diet, and a naturally low exposure to many of the well documented high risk COVID-19 exposure scenarios.

I am not overly concerned about catching COVID-19, but would rather not, and will continue to do all I can to avoid it. My biggest fear throughout the pandemic has been that I would pass it on to my parents if I caught it, and being aged 80+ they would be deemed to be high risk. Father has had his two Pfizer vaccinations, but we are waiting to hear when Mother will get hers, presumably the Oxford one as this has been documented as being far less risky for anyone with a history of allergic reactions. The question remains of course as to what will be different, and when, for those already vaccinated: will restaurants be allowed to open for them, will businesses follow the same path as Saga Cruises and only allow people that have been vaccinated to book with them?

Time will tell, and as we all know, we all have a lot of time on our hands at present.

Back to me though, and the realisation that I am increasingly becoming an endangered (forgotten) profile.

Source: The Health Foundation

I am in the 10th group according to the above, although the BBC currently have me in 8th position in the league, with a target date of the end of April. On it’s own this doesn’t seem to be too bad, but if you look back at the graph above what they call the priority groups only account for 45% of the population, whist the scientists say a 75% vaccination level will be required to get the virus under control, and according to the BBC this wont’t be achieved until the Autumn!

My point though is that having vaccinated the groups down to “the clinically extremely vulnerable people” by the end of February what do they think these people will, or can, do without the support of my age group?

It seems that “we” are rapidly becoming the forgotten age group, the background that nobody really recognises. The old must be protected, the youngsters allowed back into the pubs and children educated, but what of us?

Now, this is not a whinge honest. I am more than happy with my lot, but it has been a bit of an eye opening week, with the above being highlighted more because of it.

Like many I have attended numerous video meetings since last March. Not all that new to me after the best part of twenty years living abroad, and something I have a lot of experience of, but this week I noticed for the first time how looking at 12 small images of the faces of the others in the meetings highlights the make up of the meeting far more than when you meet in person. In this case it was extremely obvious how many white, middle aged, middle class men made up this particular board. As the agenda turned to future recruitment and adding more skills to the board the discussion, correctly, focussed on the need for a more diverse team. I have no issue with this per se. The world needs more diversity throughout businesses, sports, and communities etc. Where “we” struggled was in how to achieve this: what if the candidate from the ‘wrong’ group was the stronger candidate? Is it better to appoint someone that already understands racism to handle tackling racism, or appoint someone that is unconsciously biased in order that they can learn and spread that learning process to others?

I was still mulling this over when I was asked later in the week to submit my CV to a charity interested in talking to me about being a trustee. I was delighted to be asked, feel that my experience and skill set would be a good ‘fit’, and I respect this charity a lot. As I hit ‘send’ though I could not help but think, for the first time ever, that my CV may be overlooked because I was white, middle class and middle aged.

I know, how ironic would this be for the many that have unjustly suffered discrimination, but two wrongs don’t make a right, addressing discrimination with discrimination is not the right way surely, although understandably it is probably the easiest and quickest way to make a difference in the short term

A difficult issue with challenging questions, and even harder to get the right balance, but get the right balance we must: just as we should not overlook someone because they are black or disabled, not should we overlook someone that is perfectly suited for the job because we already have ‘enough’ of them.

In the meantime though I can not help but feel that time may be up for me and my fellow white, middle aged, middle class men.

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