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 Please observe Minions of DWP and Atos

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Posts : 9
Join date : 2012-11-19

PostSubject: Please observe Minions of DWP and Atos    Tue Nov 20, 2012 11:54 pm

Please observe Minions of DWP and Atos who do not have access to unlimited funds should something catastrophic occur and you end up needing the Welfare State

by Tom H

‘I’m one of those people, the unemployed and I am in receipt of benefits. I’m neither “feckless or “work shy” as the press and the government would have you believe. I am ill. I wasn’t always this way. For 10 years I worked for the DWP, I was the person you saw if you needed a social fund loan, a crisis loan, a replacement giro. I saw a lot, and I saw such misery, but I blocked it out, I believed that most of the ‘scroats’ turning up for their so-called “lost in the post giros” were the dregs of a welfare society. Even when I had to refuse loans for something I took for granted, like a washing machine, because it was classed as a non-essential item, a luxury, I had little sympathy. When I had to question a 79 year old man about what he’d spent his savings when he arrived in tears because his payments had stopped I felt no empathy.

Suddenly my life changed. My wife was killed in an accident and I was devastated I couldn’t work, the grief was overwhelming. I could barely look after our son, and I suffered a breakdown. We lost our rented home, my health was so poor I left my job and life was grim. I had to claim benefits. I knew the system, thought I’d be clinical about the process, but I wasn’t. I felt humiliated. Staff, people who knew nothing about me, were judging me, deciding what I could have, and what I couldn’t. I was suddenly shocked to find myself knocking on the windows asking for social fund help to move house and buy new furniture. I suddenly experienced the exasperation felt upon hearing I could only have £250, and no-one understanding it just wouldn’t be enough. I found myself, a single parent, sitting in an office with my peers, but these people were just like me, dependent upon handouts which barely made a difference.

My entire life had changed. I couldn’t afford the things we’d taken for granted before my wife’s death and before I was dependent on benefits. I wasn’t housed by the local authority, they had a rule that because I’d fallen into arrears I was ‘intentionally homeless’, crazy when you consider I’d gone from a joint monthly income of £2600 to benefits only, and couldn’t afford the £800 rent. I was still in the private sector. I had to borrow £1000 to cover a ‘bond’ and ‘fees’ for another place, but at least housing benefit paid the £530 rent for our two bed flat. I couldn’t afford the phone, or insurance, or my dental plan and planning for the future and holidays were just unimaginable. My car had to go when the MOT became due, I couldn’t afford the repairs. I was suddenly aware of the bleakness of being part of the welfare system. It wasn’t ‘free tax payers cash for a good life’, it was a make do, and then, only barely, existence.

My health fluctuated over the years and I was eventually found to have a major depressive illness with anxiety. I wanted to get back into work, and I did, into a supervisory role in retail which lasted two years, and I began to enjoy life again.

Last year I had a minor stroke, from which I am slowly recovering. My son is at university now, forging his own path in life. I’m still in our two bed flat, the place he calls home, and which has been now for over 8 years. I don’t work at the moment, my depression has been relentless since my stroke, and my medication is effective, but it’s side-effects crippling.

I feel suicidal most days, and as someone who didn’t cry easily, find myself wracked with the grief of loss and hopelessness. I know I’ll have to move, the reduction in housing benefits because I have a spare room now my son is at uni, means I can’t afford to stay. I have neither the physical or mental energy to undertake another move. I can’t afford to move. I can’t face another Atos interrogation, I’ve no wish to bare my soul again and again for the pittance which keeps me fed. EDF energy are taking £32 a week from me already for fuel direct as last winter, after my stroke, I used the heating a lot. This isn’t a life, it’s an existence, but not a life, and nothing compared to what I had less than 10 years ago, then my fridge was stocked, my house welcoming and warm and the promise of an evening out was a regular routine. Today I’ve coleslaw, margarine, economy sausages, eggs and bacon to look forward to until ‘benefit day’ and a quilt wrapped around me. I chose a computer over a TV when the TV gave out last year, it’s my contact with the world.

I don’t want people to pity me, it’s a story which will be familiar in variations to many other people, I just want people to understand I didn’t ask for this life. 10 years ago I had no understanding of the crippling illness, depression. I believed the country looked after it’s disabled by giving them cash, free parking and all manner of ‘goodies’ which I was working 40hrs a week to pay for. I believed all the hype and because of that I had no empathy for the people I saw.

I have a plan, and it’s final. When the time comes that I’m forced to move from my home, or when they say I must go work in a scheme where I get paid nothing to work alongside a fully paid staff member I will die, and it will be my ‘choice’ not to live in a society which demeans and punishes me for being unwell. It will be a relief and a release.’
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