One life to live: the irony of #benefitscamp

 

thecreativecrip.com exists solely to document the problems faced by disabled & otherwise ill people who are routinely denied the opportunity to prove to those that judge us, and ourselves, that we are useful. Shame that in the short time it’s been up the content is split between documenting my health problems and the never-ending nightmare of trying to get much-needed help from the government to become more independent & self-sufficient. I can guarantee you that despite the platitudes on high – none of the Cabinet have the faintest understanding why they are pushing so many of us to not even want to try to live our lives anymore. Quite frankly, its obvious the coalition govt & many in Opposition don’t care.

I have spent the better part of two years floundering, barely keeping my head above water as I begged for help and fought to not be forced into the usual dead-end workfare schemes. It was purely by chance that I caught wind of last weeks #BenefitsCamp event organised by FutureGov, a consultancy and social innovation incubator helping to shape the future of government through social innovation. The event itself was for “anyone up for helping fix/change/improve the benefits system – or even better create entirely new ways of doing things”.

The great irony of #benefitscamp is that the team dominated by people with disabilities and invisible illness won the Ideas pitch session. The supreme irony for me is that in the days leading up to the event I had a suicidal meltdown capped with my “I don’t want to live this life” blog post the day before. It took willpower I didn’t know I had to keep myself alive in the aftermath of the Prime Minister, with the full support of the House of Commons, invoking an archaic privilege and overturning Welfare Reform Bill amendments passed by the House of Lords.

The day of #BenefitsCamp I was trapped in bed watching the event on my mobile via the UStream App until it was time for the event participants to split up into teams and work on the shortlisted ideas. I had 2-3 hours of pain and insomnia-fueled sleep and very nearly called it quits as I struggled to stay conscious. Working together virtually aided by Skype and the #benefitscamp livestream, my team came up with a solution that would allow disabled (and not-yet-disabled) people to get much-needed support when able to work & the desperately needed compassionate helping hand when they can’t – but without the pitfalls of the existing DWP process.

The proposed Universal Credit and other benefit “reforms” being pushed through Parliament are no more than plasters on an already festering wound. End-users have not been given a genuine opportunity like the one provided by FutureGov to offer a compromise that would help us to help ourselves, despite the Coalition government’s claims to the contrary. FutureGov have set the standard for virtual participation and collaboration. My team’s success at #BenefitsCamp shows what disabled people are capable of when we are allowed to work with much-needed adjustments.

Related information from some of my team-mates:

Benefits Camp 2012 – Workgroup 7  (worklifebalance.thecreativecrip.com)

Benefits Camp – Confidence-building (janetdavis.posterous.com)

Not idle, just unsupported (thecreativecrip.com)

FutureGov (http://wearefuturegov.com)

Advertisements