“Death by 1000 Cuts” Reflective Poem

We asked our PTS Qualification students to express “What ‘System Change’ means to me”. Some interesting reflections from PTS Coach Shauna came via this moving poem we are sharing on #WorldPoetryDay.


A death by 1000 cuts. The government carelessly holds the knife and hides the murder, does anyone care or were they just a number?

A cut to benefits,

A slash to welfare.

A stab to community investment,

A puncture to public services.

How do we deal with the people who are wounded? Those who are injured by decisions made without their voices included.

We blame those who are bleeding rather than the ones holding the knife, influenced by a deficit system that should be scrutinised.

We hand out plasters rather than treating the injury, an unsustainable system which has led to a lack of sympathy.

People being stretchered through each system which reopens their wounds, adding in salt with the language they use.

Risk assessments resurfacing old scars rather than allowing people to heal. Everyone has a past, what’s the big deal?

People being attacked with assessment, tick boxes, and sanctions. Their experiences reduced to KPI’s for a funder’s satisfaction.

There are people looking for help but falling through the cracks, being told they don’t have the resources to get back.

The battle of the ‘us vs them’ narrative rather than working collaboratively and listening. It’s time to undo systematic conditioning.

Austerity related deaths, suicide rates, and poverty continue to rise. We need compassion as people try their best to survive.

This is just a small insight to see, a part of what system change means to me.


by Shauna Hemphill


Change a System

“There’s a System to Run a System” Reflective Poem

This #WorldPoetryDay we are delighted to share an insightful poem written by one of our PTS Qualification students in response to our Module 1 Challenge to express “What ‘System Change’ means to me”. Thank you to Sharron for sharing these moving thoughts with us.


There’s systems to run a system

To keep the cog wheels turning

And enlightened few yearning

For a different system, a better way

For system users to have a say

And take back control of their situation

To stop being labelled as a victim

The system has many labels and boxes

Very few options, more deficits and losses;

A loss of identity, a loss of trust

A loss of empowerment because “you must…”


I dream of a system that has no system

Where the cogs which are turning actually capture the yearning

Of those once trapped, and desperate to be free

Where the person before us is all we see

Where their voice is the only one we hear

And the path to their success is the one we cheer

Not the one we tick off on an assessment sheet

Or what we tell them they must do at the scheduled meet.


There’s systems to run systems

But no-one runs me

I am the change if I choose to be

I am the enlightened, free to create

Free to modify the systems I have grown to hate

I’ll be ridiculed and silenced and argued against

Story of my life, systems are not strength based

But my strength lies in showing compassion

Building relationships makes things happen.

If we understand what lies beneath

Those systems will slowly begin to creak

Power doesn’t lie in the hands of those systems

It comes from words and the impact they give us

So I will shout my words ever so loudly

And argue my case with confidence, and proudly

Because the systems that keep the cogs ever turning

Have less people applauding and more who are learning

That those systems don’t work and the system is broken

No truer words will ever be spoken.

The dream for me will be my reality

And systems within systems will be the fallicy.

There’s systems to run a system

But no one runs me

I’m enlightened, I’m awake

Time to be me.


by Sharron Harries