YARED was a lawyer and a judge in Ethiopia. A big player who helped draft a new constitution in the 1990s. But he made a mistake. He stood up to his government on human rights abuses. He had to flee leaving everything he had behind.

Now he lives in Brighton and, after a spell as a traffic warden, works as a volunteer at a community advice centre. He says it gives him a much needed sense of purpose.

But the stress of his former life and of his experiences of being a refugee has taken a terrible toll on his health. He has diabetes and heart problems. However, all Yared wants to do is to contribute to life here in Britain, although he has little hope of finding work that suits his talents.

Yared’s story is just one included this week in the annual report of the Director of Public Health in Brighton and Hove. The report looks in detail at the inequality in the city, the effect of cuts in welfare and on the health of the population.

It goes without saying that the more deprivation the more physical and mental health problems arise. I hope the report, which you can download from the city council website, doesn’t just gather dust. It is clear-eyed, objective and utterly convincing in its underlying message that those least able to fend for themselves are increasingly in danger of falling through the net.

At a time when the Government is committed to slashing £12 billion from the welfare bill it gives dispassionate food for thought. Yared wants to work and contribute to society but he is trapped, like many of the people profiled in the report, in a cycle of despair. Low-paid jobs won’t pay the bills and as benefits are cut just getting by takes up all the energy.

Brighton is a low-wage economy with a high-cost housing problem. On top of that our geographical position and liberal reputation makes us a beacon for those with troubled lives looking for some sort of salvation.

The problems of inequality can easily be forgotten in our city of joy, where the signs of desperation are swamped by hordes of laughing thrill-seekers. In Brighton today, Yared will be helping other refugees to get by. We need people like him but we also need to ensure we don’t do anything to rob him of all hope.

GILBERT White was an 18th century vicar. Not the most promising of introductory sentences I grant you but bear with me. He was the curate of Selbourne near Petersfield in Hampshire. His house and gardens, The Wakes, is open to the public. I was there this week. It is a truly beautiful place. It proves you could travel all around the world and not see anything so blissful, as serene and idyllic as on your doorstep.

White was much more than a curate. He is regarded as England’s first ecologist spending every day filling in his diary with the minutiae of the flora and fauna around Selbourne. Such was his love of nature that his letters became the first real exhaustive record of our natural world.

The book based on these letters, The Natural History and Antiquities of Selbourne, has sold millions of copies around the world. It helped that White came from a family of rich vicars so he was able to indulge his passion without worrying about food on the table. But on tough days I sometimes imagine myself as White, wandering the lanes and meadows of Selbourne, diary in hand concerned only with the movements of the earthworms, the swaying of the hay and the song of the skylark. That’s the sort of job I want.

I WAS standing at a railway station and, on the breeze, heard the unmistakable sound of the PA announcer at the local school fete. You know the sort. Volunteers every year and fancies himself for an afternoon slot on local BBC radio.

Denied the visual treat of this quintessential English summer tradition it was fascinating instead to listen. It made me wonder if the parents who go to these things do so in a post-modern ironic way. Don’t forget in the corner of the field, said our PA, are the mini steam traction engines. On the far side Mrs James has her regular butterfly cake stand so fill up there, he continued. And instead of hook-a-duck this year we have a coconut shy, he went on, before finally revealing that the highlight of the day would be the Year 4 gymnastic display.

When my sons were small I avoided these things like the plague. Now I felt a tinge of melancholy that I would never again see a small, stationary and quite useless piece of machinery blowing steam and driving a belt for no discernable reason in a field where toddlers bump into each other while trailing streamers.