Sunday, February 06, 2011

What's a Life Worth?

Someone pointed me to a site called 5 Quid for Life,
a new charity-in-the-making, set up in January 2011 to support mentally ill people who may be adversely affected by changes to the UK benefits system.
and it made me so, so sad.

Set up in response to Aliquant's post about her plans for suicide if she is refused ESA,
to encourage people to give, ideally to commit to regular giving of £5 per month, to enable us to offer a life-saving safety net beneath the benefits system.

It made me sad, and then it made me angry. Not the site itself - the site is lovely, and caring, and a beautiful response to someone's utter despair. Rather, it made me angry that this is necessary at all. That anyone in this country in the 21st century saw a need to get strangers to donate money so that people with mental health problems can support themselves rather than kill themselves.

How has this happened? That we are under such scrutiny, and in a state of such terror, and so disregarded by the government, as well as the opposing party, that millions of us are at risk of homelessness and destitution, as some kind of punishment for being ill.

Any idea that once our benefits are stopped, we will 'buck our ideas up' will be proven again and again to be, at best, misguided, and at worst, downright dangerous. Threats of suicide are worryingly frequent in comments on this blog alone. Those of us with mental health problems are thought to be the most at risk of failing the assessments, which are reported to ask questions which are much less relevant to people with mental health problems, as well as other invisible disabilities.

One thing is for sure, the medicals, the reassessments, the regular hatred in parts of the media, the misinformation from the government, are all working together to make us more stressed, more depressed, more anxious and more paranoid. Therefore further and further away from the elusive 'wellness' which would enable us to start thinking about paid work and leaving the benefits system.

I am disgusted, and ashamed, to be in a country where people are having to hold collections in order that people will be able to eat. People, specifically, who are frightened, sick and vulnerable.

(Cross posted at Where's the Benefit? blog)