The pages of this newspaper and BBC TV Spotlight, for example, regularly carry tales of woe, hardship, frustration, anger and so on, about everyday life in this broken society.

Things have become so bad that not even sitting down and having a cup of tea fixes the state of chaos, uncertainty and anxiety that very many currently experience. One aspect of the crisis is the sense of abandonment that many people experience and feel, including the growing emotion of unfairness.

The gap between the haves and have-nots grows daily; the continuation of privileges for some, and crumbs from the table for many. Amongst all this angst there are lies, promises; jam for tomorrow; and waste. No one in government seems to be focused on their job; many looking for their next job after the general election in the Spring. In most areas of our daily lives the various inspectors of our failing services seem to be ‘sat on their hands’. Fiddling while ‘Rome’ burns.

Amongst all this we are still confronted by the advertising led rhetoric that we all have choices and our freedoms allow us to enter the marketplace to satisfy our needs; welfare ones, housing, health and social care, and otherwise. But the choices that most people can make are very limited, the menu of earthly delights shrinks by the day. We are increasingly ‘freedoms prisoner’.

An example of promises and systematic failure is the 2004 children and young person Act ‘Every Child Matters.’ After yet another major report on previous failings, Report and then the legislation to deal with this mess was launched with a fanfare of trumpets and many promises. I remember this time very well, being involved in the process as a social policy specialist in this field.

Well, here we are in 2023, can we actually say that the high and laudable aims of the Act does mean that now, every child does matter, equally, and has access to care, benefits and services, like education and mental health provision? I don’t think so. Just look at the mess that Devon County Council have made of their provisions right across the spectrum of children and young people’s needs.

For people of my generation, those of us born during the 1940s and for two decades after, we have seen the ‘Welfare State’ develop to meet many needs for most people, and then over time shrink back to not much. Of course many well- meaning charities and an army of volunteers have stepped in to meet needs of many kinds. Where would we be without them? However, many of these organisations and support groups rely on top-down funding and grant aid, which given successive parsimonious governments since the late 1970s, have almost dried up. We are the era of ‘The begging bowl’ approach to survival, which is hardly a help with identity and self-esteem.

I am far from the first person to argue for a major reset of priorities for a clear statement of a commitment to our values as a society that does care about the needs and aspirations of everyone regardless of who they are. Of course we have a democratic deficit. Many people feel that their voices for good and for ill are not being listened to, and taken seriously. We must all contribute to a debate that emphasises the alternatives that do exist to the current malaise.

Perhaps we citizens of Exmouth can come together to show the way? I live in hope.