Meanwhile back at the ranch… CreativeCrip 8 Months #AfterESA

Regular readers of this blog and followers of the related @CreativeCrip Twitter account might recall in February of this year I rashly pulled myself out of ESA hell in favour of being self-employed. Being honest – I knew at the time that I still wasn’t ready to make such a move. Atos phoning me at home about another WCA was the catalyst. I literally could not face having to deal with them again and was so desperate that taking myself off the merry-go-round seemed like the only thing that would bring some relief.

It’s been touch-and-go ever since, largely because of the appalling lack of support from my old GPs & CMHT Psych Team. As I’ve said before, being a Native American merely Permanently Resident in the UK is not without problems. Every inquiry and appointment turns into an immigration interview – which is not only unnecessary it is quite inappropriate. One of the things that I constantly struggle with in trying to get help is that the professionals I am meant to be dealing with don’t leave their politics and prejudices at home. It’s much the same dealing with engineers from telephone companies, supermarket delivery drivers and neighbours. Everyone has really strong opinions on immigration, benefits and disability and there is no hesitation in imparting their wisdom to me no matter how malicious and ill-informed.

I’ve had to make even more changes in the aftermath of dropping my ESA claim.

  • My finances were in such a dire state that I had to borrow money to be able to move house and secure it by paying six months up front. There is no feeling of failure quite like crying to your mother at the ripe old age of 46 and having her cash in some of her pension to bail you out.
  • Instead of the accessible ground floor flat that cost £650/mo (downgraded from another ground floor flat that was £800/mo) in Cardiff, I am now living in an old split-level miner’s cottage in the Valleys that is nowhere near being disabled-friendly. It only costs £375/mo – great for someone with very low income. Accessible bungalows and ground floor flats come at a premium I simply cannot afford having already exhausted my redundancy on paying the mortgages of other people.
  • I need to find a new GP and essentially start all over again, hoping that I’ll get the support and referrals I need to manage my complex health needs. I haven’t found the courage to actually get myself out of the house to do this – and October marks three months living here.
  • When I moved house this past July I hadn’t seen my old GPs in over a year – our relationship was *that* adversarial. I just couldn’t cope with having to deal with them again knowing that, quite frankly, they really didn’t give a shit what happened to me as reflected in their attitude every step of the way.
  • The meds I need I haven’t had for some time now so of course my mood and manner are more down than slightly down (I’ve never been an “up” person and never will be). Having said that – there is a difference between Clinical Depression and just being in a foul mood. I am at least astute enough to recognise which is which in myself., but of course not having effective treatment for the Clinical Depression doesn’t help. I had been on 200gm of Sertraline a day but hypersomnia won out. The fact is that the Clinical Depression *is* really kicking my tail in every way, shape and form.
  • It seems that I may be an undiagnosed Aspie (and the results of Simon Baron Cohen’s online test support this along with some others) – but unfortunately before anything could be explored on that basis the old CMHT changed Psychiatrists, which they did every few months it seemed. I also missed a lot of appointments because I could not make them for physical or financial reasons or both. Making appointments three months in advance was never going to work. I also begged the CMHT to allow me to have phone conferences. This was laughed at…why I don’t know.
  • I have now been on a list to see a spinal surgeon for over two years. Every time I contacted the hospital they were annoyed and told me they would get back to me. Now that I’ve moved house I will have to get a new referral.
  • I am also overdue for knee surgery and this has severely impacted my mobility. Again I will have to get a new referral thanks to the house move.
  • I am angry about my situation and who I am because of it all the time… and no matter what I try it just doesn’t subside. As I’ve said before, all I’ve ever asked for is the help and support I need to get back to having a somewhat productive life. I’m not the only one in such a predicament but it astounds me still that politicians from all three major UK parties have strong opinions about disabled people and work, yet they seem to go out of their way to make things as difficult and inhumane as possible for us. Everything from Disability Living Allowance to Access To Work to Working Tax Credits is such a nightmare to navigate and especially for anyone who is completely alone.

Some people say that I have to “fake it until it’s real” and other similar Mindfulness pearls of wisdom along admonishments to “play the game” – both of which go down like a lead-weighted balloon. Being fake just does not compute. I am who I am and what I am is tired… just so very tired of the never-ending fighting for absolutely everything in every part of my life. And I am acutely aware that for every person who might *get* what I’m saying there will be a number of detractors. That’s fine… I can only ever tell the truth – my truth. It’s the same for all of us.

So here I am carrying on doing everything that I am told to do and hoping against all reasonable hope that things will get better.

 

 

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Musings: Lifestyle Change vs. Political Change and Disability

Just replied to a comment on my blog from a disability campaigner now owning that his focus is on “lifestyle change rather than political change” (I’m one of more than a few people with criticism of the BioPsychoSocial mantras being rammed down our throats).

This is my response:

“Again – lifestyle change for disabled people not born into privilege will not happen without political change.”

I still don’t want to live this life – the real world 2 months #afterESA

Today marks the point of no return for many disabled and ill people. An estimated 40,000 – 100,000 of those in our community who have worked will lose our Contributory Employment Support Allowance (ESA)  thanks to the new one year time limit railroaded through Parliament as part of the recent welfare reforms.

I’m one of them. Continue reading

Pat’s Petition: Update for 16th April 2012 via carerwatch.com

Let’s help Pat reach 100,000 signatures

Over 35,000 people have signed Pat’s Petition so far

 Have YOU?

Stop and review the cuts to benefits and services, which are falling disproportionately

on disabled people, their carers and families

Welfare reform – NHS – local authority budgets – legal aid – sure start – Independent Living Fund – Remploy – social grant fund

Please sign Pat’s Petition

 click here: http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/20968

and

Share, Share, Share

  1. In e-mails, via social media, blogs
  2. Add to newsletters
  3. Ask family, friends, work colleagues, contacts
  4. If you are part of the Hardest Hit / Care and Support Alliances, send your members the details. This is a great way for those unable to attend protests to add their voices to the many others raised in anger. Request your staff to sign.


Please send a supporting statement to patspetition@gmail.com detailing the actions you’ve taken.

These will be added to Pat’s campaign blog

WE ARE ALL IN THIS TOGETHER

The Joint Committee on Human Rights also recently highlighted the risks regarding the rights of disabled people in their report, Implementation of the Right of Disabled People to Independent Living’. Also the Scottish Campaign for a fair Society, told the Human Rights Council of the UN that the United Kingdom Government is in breach of its human rights obligations to disabled people, their carers and families.

carerwatch.com

#ATOSuni update no. 5: Derby U. sleight of hand

The Masters of the Universe running French IT firm Atos Origin are quite an ambitious lot. Continue reading

Smoke and Mirrors: Remploy & Access to Work

REMPLOY bills itself as the UK’s leading provider of employment services for people with disabilities.  In the wake of government cuts to funding, the company is closing its contested Factories is re-establishing itself as yet another support mechanism for both Jobseekers and potential employers alike. They claim to have supported more than 20,000 people to find, and remain in, employment in 2010/11Note the emphasis on “finding” work and “remaining in” employment (which works well given the catastrophic failures of A4E doing similar work as a Provider of outsourced government unemployment support).

Many Disability Campaigners, myself included, and various segments of the media have accused the government of diverting funds that should go into keeping open Remploy factories. The culprit has been named and shamed as the Department of Pensions  “Access to Work” programme for disabled people returning to work (aka “welfare to work”).

Access to Work is yet another government programme under the auspices of the DWP’s JobCentre Plus. 

@ITVLauraK - Remploy

Tweet from ITV Reporter Laura Kuenssberg

source: @ITVLaura 

 

What few of us had yet to realise is that in December of 2011, Remploy was awarded the tender for a new UK-wide Access To Work programme to support those of us with mental health conditions back into work.

 

DWP confirm REMPLOY Tender

DWP confirm REMPLOY Tender - Dec'11: mental health support in Access to Work Programme

source: DWP

 

 

REMPLOY confirm DWP Access to Work Tender.

REMPLOY confirm DWP Access to Work Tender same day as DWP announcemen. 5th tDec'11

source: REMPLOY (pls click to review all details not included in screenshot)

 

I only discovered this in the last two weeks myself, after my public meltdown after being forced off ESA (a saga itself and the aftermath of which are worthy of their own posts). I am now an Access to Work “customer” forced to deal with a number of Third Party Service Providers of which REMPLOY is only one and the experience is not dissimilar to those under A4E and other external providers whilst receiving Employment Support Allowance and /or Jobseeker’s Allowance.  Whenever I mention the factories closing, #REMPLOY staff always claim to know nothing about it & mention the new #mhuk contract.

According to the DWP Access to Work is available to anyone who is:

  • in a paid job
  • unemployed and about to start a job
  • unemployed and about to start a Work Trial
  • self-employed

and your disability or health condition stops you from being able to do parts of your job.

Your disability or health condition may not have a big effect on what you do each day, but may have a long-term effect on how well you can do your job.

So that Employers don’t suffer too much inconvenience or  financial hardship the programme will cover the cost of suitable adaptations for their workplace.

Your employer’s responsibilities

Once your adviser has decided on the package of support they feel is appropriate, they will seek formal approval of their recommendations from Jobcentre Plus. You and your employer will then receive a letter informing you of the approved level of support and the grant available.

It is the responsibility of your employer – or you, if you are self-employed – to arrange the agreed support and buy the necessary equipment. Your employer can then claim repayment of the approved costs from Access to Work.

 

Access to Work details on Direct Gov

Access to Work details on DirectGov

source: DirectGov (pls click to review all details not included in screenshot)

For those in the Employers’ Forum on Disability who welcomed government implementation of the Sayce Review and complained that REMPLOY Factories were just another form of social and professional isolation for disabled people, it seems that this new Mental Health Support service within the already established Access to Work framework  is the panacea to those particular ills. This new REMPLOY contract with Access to Work was most likely the sweetener that made it very easy for the REMPLOY Board to propose closing of 36 of its 54 factories thereby putting 1,700 disabled people out of work – and into the power of JobCentre Plus. After all, the 18 months of “support” for ex-REMPLOY employees that Disability Minister Maria Miller and other politicians continue to over-sell is the same that made the likes of A4E’s Emma Harrison a millionairess with a Stately Home, in spite of fraud accusations and a service that didn’t deliver on it’s “Benefits Buster” promises.

The DWP have killed two birds with one Sayce Review stone – Liz Sayce had called for more funding  to be put into Access to Work and for REMPLOY to be modernised.  Forcing disabled people into mainstream employment, regardless of suitability albeit with “support”  for our own good, is quite a progressive neo-liberal move indeed.

Related information:

 

#CreativeCrip in the media: “Technical Difficulties” radio show 9th March 2012

Last Friday, 9th March 2012, I was one of several guests on Tim Abbott’s Resonance FM radio show “Technical Difficulties”

The topics under discussion were #BenefitsCamp (including the winning project by my team)  – and my fledgling Rise Up UK  DPULO / SocEnt Rise Up UK!  (last ten minutes of the programme).

You can listen to the podcast at http://podcasts.resonancefm.com/archives/8553

Related information:

ATOS Meltdown Continued: Dark Night of the Soul (#DWPPressOffice #workfare #ESA #disabilityUK #ukmh #mhuk #a4e)

 

 

 

Sometimes you just need someone to hold your hand and mentor you through things.

This is one of those times.

Continue reading

ATOS Meltdown Continued: Dark Night of the Soul

Steinem-Truth
Image Source: “Gloria Steinem Quote.” Image. Ephemera-Inc.com 01 Jun. 2011..

NEW POST at thecreativecrip.com:

Sometimes you just need someone to hold your hand and mentor you through things.

This is one of those times.

Read the full article here:  http://thecreativecrip.com/2012/02/atos-meltdown-continued-dark-night-of-the-soul/

Media: “Technical Difficulties” with Tim Abbott – 24 Feb 2012


Resonance FM
Image via Wikipedia (CC “Fair Use”)

 

 

Today marked my first foray into radio.

I was a guest on Tim Abbott’s “Technical Difficulties” radio show on Resonance FM.

You can listen to the Podcast at http://podcasts.resonancefm.com/archives/8452

Continue reading