Firstly, I’d like to draw your attention to a news items: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-south-east-wales-23353623
Before you just pass on over this, stop for a moment. Stop and think. Stop and imagine. Because behind all these headlines, lives of real people, people like you and me are in the balance. Are being crushed by ideological hatred of the sick and disabled, the like of which hasnt been seen since Germany under the National Socialists.
So please, bear with me. Grant me just a moment of your time.
Id like you to imagine for a moment that your life has changed. One minute you were fit, full of zest for life, getting on with everything, work, your family life, going on holidays. And the next minute your world had changed. Now everything causes you pain. You cannot do the things you once did. Everything has to be planned in advance, even getting out of bed so that you dont end up in a heap on the floor when your legs give out under you.
Nobody is entirely sure whats happened. A virus seems to be the best bet. And you learn that life isnt like the medical dramas. There is no blood test that can diagnose you quickly, because tests are all on a yes/no basis. Does this person have diabetes YES/No. It cannot ask what is wrong? and come back with an answer.
And so you embark on an endless round of tests, scans, more tests, people not believing you, telling you to eat healthily, give up smoking (you dont smoke), lose weight etc etc.
For a while you try and keep working because hey, youve always worked and you want to work. But now youre fighting a losing battle with your body. You might want to work, but your body cant. It doesnt matter how you try to coax and cajole it it aint happening. Your employers are sympathetic at first maybe you get a few weeks grace, a few months if youre lucky. After that well, youre no longer any use. So out you go.
Now you have to rely on the state. Remember Social Security? That was something everyone who worked paid into so that they would have a helping hand a hand up, not a hand out if they hit hard times. Now its called Welfare. An altogether different beast cold, judgemental, and without pity.
So you put in an application for a disability benefit. There isnt much you can claim now, but you try anyway. Youre new to this, so you think it will be all right. Just tell the truth. Youve always been a hard worker, and youd go back to work in a flash if only they could find out whats wrong with you.
You attend an assessment. These used to be called medicals but I think the Trade Description Act might have been invoked there. There is no doctor. Maybe a nurse. A physiotherapist. They do not have to have any experience in your particular type of case thats not important. And as we now know they are under strict orders to fail as many as they can.
The assessor barely looks at you, they do is tick boxes on a screen. No room for explanation. No room for doubt.
You eventually get your decision. There is nothing wrong with you. According to the computer, anyway. Anyone who does not know about these letters has no idea what it feels like to be told on official DWP notepaper that you are not entitled because you do not need help. Its like a blow to the solar plexus. If you felt ill before, for a day or two after you feel a bloody sight worse.
So you decide this isnt right. Youll appeal. Now, this is where the fun starts. From October this year, you cannot just appeal, you have to write to the Decision Maker and ask them to look at it again. They can take as long as they like doing this and meanwhile you have no money. The best way of getting a decision overturned is to come up with some extra supporting evidence usually a letter from your GP.
But now……. look at the link above! GPs are being forbidden from providing letters to patients. Now think about this. You have been told you are fit to work by someone who isnt a doctor, but your own doctor is forbidden from contradicting this. Kafka couldnt have made it up.
But it gets worse. You get your decision and again its a no. So you decide to appeal. There is no longer any Legal Aid available for this, by the way. Nothing. Youre sick. Youre impoverished. And youre on your own. Because hey, Ian Duncan Smith is such a committed Christian, he and his policies are not punishing you (and your family) but redeeming you.
(And in case you feel I might have made that last bit up, check out this link: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/9762509/Iain-Duncan-Smith-has-to-win-the-day-in-the-Tory-war-over-welfare.html
If you can read this eulogy without vomiting, scroll down to paragraph 7 you couldnt make this up! He does indeed believe his actions are redemptive. I don’t know what god he’s been talking to, but it’s not one I could recognise.
Please wake up. Make a stand. Send emails you dont even have to buy a stamp. Lobby your MPs, local media, local health boards, anyone. But do something. Dont just moan. Dont just complain here or on Facebook. It might just be South East Wales today. But if people dont make enough fuss now, it will be your area everyones area tomorrow.