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Sunday, October 24, 2010

Video Follow-Up

I've had such amazing support since posting the video yesterday. I also wanted to let you know that it has been re-posted at various places.

Mind In Flux posted it on her blog about mental health and disability.

The Broken of Britain is collecting the stories of disabled people in the UK, and has linked to the video.

And it has also been posted on Pickled Politics blog.

I am touched and moved that so many people have contacted me, and commented, in such a supportive way. It was a very scary thing to do, but it also felt very important. Thank you everyone.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Vlog Message to You.

In response to the wonderful words of BendyGirl.



[Edited to add a transcript of the video:

The last few days I've watched the videos from BendyGirl at Benefit Scrounging Scum, and I loved them, I thought they were brilliant. But I never thought it was something I could do, until in her second video she pointed out how important it is for everyone to speak out.

Like many, many people I am frightened by the proposed changes, the cuts, to disability benefits, and what's going to happen to services and the third sector.

The thought of withdrawing mobility rate... the thought of withdrawing the mobility section of DLA for people in care homes is disgusting. The thought that just because somebody was living in a care home, they no longer need to go anywhere, they no longer need mobility equipment, is just obscene.

The changes in housing benefit rules so that people under 35 in private rented accommodation can't get full housing benefit if they live on their own is disgusting.

And limiting ESA to one year, when so many people were fighting against the very principle of ESA at all, and now to have to change that fight to at least, it was perhaps better than nothing, and if people are going to be put on it because they are considered fit to work, even though we know that many, many people who are not fit for work are being put on ESA, the fact that that's now limited to one year, and nobody seems to know what would happen after that.

When we are in a recession, and people – everybody who isn't working is finding it difficult to find jobs, and the strange assumption that the few jobs that there are will go to disabled people, is just not unfortunately how this society works. Disablism means that disabled people are discriminated against every day, and that includes the disabled person who is well enough to work can find it more difficult to find that job because employers are frightened, or don't want to make changes, or don't know what it means.

I'm frightened. And I'm also, like many other people, very confused. I watched the budget on Wednesday, and I was thankfully using twitter at the same time because there were many aspects that I didn't understand, or that I thought I must have misheard. And that there was a group of us all watching and using twitter at the same time made it more accessible to me, I guess.

But there are many unanswered questions. I've heard of people ringing the DWP to say, 'What's this about ESA being stopped after a year?' and the DWP not being able to answer, because they don't know.

The Housing Benefit cuts, I've heard so many different stories about who it's being cut for. So it's not just that the changes are frightening, it's that they're very unclear, and people don't know where they stand.

When I first became ill and went on benefits, I just got Income Support, and it was a horrible time. With paying part of my rent out of that, and with making debt repayments out of that, I had £15 a week for food, and electricity, and transport. For months I lived on... I used to buy these tins of Irish Stew from Kwik Save, and they were disgusting, but they were really cheap, and I figured it was as close to a balanced diet as I could get because it had meat and potatoes in it. And for months, every day, I had one meal a day, and that consisted of Kwik Save Irish Stew and as much bread as I could eat. Every day. For months. I couldn't afford sanitary towels, I couldn't afford shampoo.

I didn't know about other benefits. And someone told me about DLA and I applied for it, and I eventually got it, and it was one of the key... it was key for me, it was vital. Because my health was bad enough anyway, it was vital for me because I could afford to eat more than Irish Stew. I could afford to go to places on the bus. And I'm talking medical appointments. Before that I was missing medical appointments because I couldn't afford to get there. I could get taxis. I could get ready meals when I wasn't well enough to cook.

Getting DLA literally changed everything for me. And makes, still makes, such a difference. It means that I can afford the extra things I need because I'm disabled. Like taxis. Like ready meals when I can't cook. Like mobility aids, and other aids I use. DLA, along with everything, is being threatened. With ATOS taking over the medicals. And after what they've done with the ESA medicals that's frightening, and many people who need DLA are going to lose it.

Everything that is happening since the new government came in is frightening to disabled people. And I'm not a Labour supporter. I know that various important Labour politicians have come out and said that they would be doing what the Conservatives are doing with regard to disability benefits. So I'm not falling into the trap of saying, 'the coalition government is awful, Labour is the answer', because they are... although they are fighting some aspects of the budget, they are supporting the disability benefit cuts.

I feel like I'm being punished for being disabled. The press and the government are doing a really good job at the moment of whipping up hatred, whipping up this image of disabled people being scroungers, of disabled people not really being disabled, and being workshy and lazy. The government and certain parts of the press are promoting this strongly and I can feel, in the atmosphere, that this is affecting people's views. And with the further cuts, this gets worse and worse.

What depresses me is not my illness. What depresses me is not my impairment. What depresses me is how I am treated because of it. That's what makes everything so much harder. We do need to speak out. Because disabled people are being scapegoated and it's horrible. And for non-disabled people, you don't know what's round the corner. I became disabled. Many people become disabled. It could be you in a few years, with no care packages, with no benefits, with no support. With people thinking... with people thinking you're lazy or can't be bothered, or exaggerating. Nobody's immune from disability. And there are some people in the government, the Prime Minister included, who really should know that through their own lives. I am so... I'm frightened, and I want to give a message of hope, but at the moment it's hard to find one.

So I'll agree with BendyGirl that the hope... maybe we have to get hope from each other... from knowing it's not just us, it's not just me that's frightened, it's not just me that's confused, who doesn't know what's happening and what's going to happen.

We're all in this together.]

Friday, October 08, 2010

An Easy Way to Email your MP to Protest Benefit Cuts.

Scope are running a campaign to email your MP to ask them to take action immediately to oppose the cuts to the public services and benefits that many disabled people in the UK use and rely on.

All you have to do is fill in your contact details, then your MP's email address is automatically found and you can read and alter the proposed message before you confirm that you would like it to be sent.

So, email your MP to protest the proposed cuts here.

Cross-posted at Where's the Benefit?.