>Imagine You’re Four

>This post was written by Kaliya Franklin and originally appeared at Benefit Scrounging Scum.  It’s reposted here with permission

Imagine you’re four. You love your parents, your friends, the way the light comes through your curtains early in the morning, twinkling on the walls while you wait in your princess room patiently for mummy and daddy’s wake up time. Your favourite things are pink ballons and fairies, when it’s all a bit confusing around you you know you’re safe as long as you can catch sight of those pink flashes and know mum and dad are close. You love to give cuddles, hugs so tight there’s no room to wiggle and when you get excited you rock back and forth from foot to foot, arms spiralling joyfully.

One day a new clipboard lady comes to see your mum and dad. You see them cry and decide you don’t like this clipboard lady, you wonder where the clipboard lady you remember has gone. Mummy and Daddy are sad so you hug them then fling yourself to the floor and scream so the clipboard lady will go away. It works so next time you decide to scream louder and kick your feet harder to be sure she’ll go before your mum and dad cry.

Next time the clipboard lady comes with lots of other people to take you away. Lots of big words you don’t understand like ‘aggressive’ ‘confrontational’ and ‘care order’ float around the room and you can’t see your pink balloons so scream and scream. Mummy and Daddy cry and tell you to be a good girl, that you’ll love your new home, it’ll be full of your favourite things to do, they’ll come to see you soon.

When you get there it’s all scary and wrong. It smells funny and the light doesn’t wake you up in the mornings anymore. No-one knows you like to be woken up by the light and they wouldn’t care if they did. The days are long, no painting or ponies like you’re used to to fill the time and no-one comes to give you cuddles when you’re sad. You cry alot and have tantrums. You’re used to pink balloons and fairies when you have a tantrum, but without being able to see that you just kick more wildly, especially when the carers come to sit on you and hit you.

You might be only four but you can remember the important things Mummy and Daddy spent 18 years teaching you. You know how to hold out your hand and say ‘NO!’ in a loud voice if someone tries to touch you, to say the police will come to look after you, to call out for your Mummy so she knows to come to you. Mummy and Daddy were so proud of you for being their big girl and learning these skills, you try to remember that as you lie on the floor of your shower, surrounded by grown ups shouting at you, throwing cold water all over you, sitting on you and choking you. You cry and cry for your Mum but it just makes the carers hit you more. Sometimes the nurses come along and you look at them while you’re on the floor, pinned beneath a chair, but then someone puts a blanket over your head so you can’t look at them anymore. The blanket’s brown and scratchy and you cry for your pink balloons while they hit you some more.

You don’t get days out anymore. There used to be a car and Mummy and Daddy took you places with swings and slides. Swings, slides, light through the leaves and being happy slip further and further away until you’re not sure there was ever a world beyond beige walls with no pink to hide in to bear the slaps, pinches and pushdowns that are your new routine. You’re sure you remember your parents though and cry for them every day. You don’t know the reason they can’t come to visit is that now you’re a hospital resident 80 miles away from home and the car had to go because you’re no longer entitled to the mobility component of Disability Living Allowance and the Motability scheme. Mummy and Daddy are getting older and they had to care for you instead of going out to work. You don’t know they’re going cold and hungry now they’re unemployed not carers, you only know that no-one comes to see you except the people who hurt you.

You don’t know someone in the hospital did care. That they reported the abuse you are experiencing repeatedly. To their manager, to their manager’s manager, to the Care Quality Commission. You don’t know because no-one did anything, nothing ever changes now, the torture is your daily routine. You don’t know the word for torture, but you could give a better account of what it means than a prisoner in Guantanamo.

You don’t know that in the world outside your torture chamber that people talk alot about double funding, scroungers and fraud. Of something called a deficit, the need to cut costs and protect the vulnerable. You don’t know that because all the talk is of stamping out fraud and you’re so vulnerable no-one knows you exist.

>The Broken of Britain

>Last weekend a new campaign was set up about the proposed cuts and specifically to allow disabled people to campaign about them.  Because we are one of the groups who will be affected most severely by these cuts.  And the government have already admitted they’ve not looked into it fully.

The campaign is The Broken of Britain.

This afternoon I had a long chat on the phone with Kaliya who set it up.  It was really fun to get to talk to her after knowing her online for so long.  Just a shame we had such a serious topic to talk about.  I’m going to be helping with the campaign by doing stuff like keeping an eye on the blog and answering e-mails.

I also wrote a post for Scope on Monday about this project.  Spreading the word is one of the most important things people can do.  Even if you don’t feel able to share your story or take part in other ways, please consider sharing the link.

Reading the stories is humbling and it can be very hard.  I thought I’d seen a lot of benefit problems as a CAB adviser and knew how they could affect people.  I was wrong.

I just posted Emma’s Story – my own story – to The Broken of Britain blog.  It feels a little raw and it wasn’t easy.  I’ve shared some very personal stuff before through my blogs but this feels like a whole different level of personal and not overly comfortable. I thought about it for a long time and did consider being anonymous as those stories are also accepted. But I knew that if I wrote what I wanted to write and I continued to promote the project plenty of people would read it and know it was me.  Plus, if ever there was a time when I feel the need to stand up for what I believe in, it’s now.

Please consider supporting this project.

>Returning to Blogging, Question and Writing News

>I’ve been meaning to update all weekend.  And I’ve been sat with this window open for ages.  But I’m feeling a bit off and I have so much to say that I can’t make it work.  I’ll be back with a proper update (a long one – I’ve lots to say!) tomorrow or if not then definitely Tuesday.

Oh and if you’ve been missing my writings check out 4 Ways to Discover Inspiration for Writing which is something I wrote for Inspired to Write.

I also have several other things “in the pipeline” as they say.  Including my very first magazine article which has been accepted for publication and will be out at the end of the month!  I am beyond excited!

More on that tomorrow but for now a side note:
 I made a few changes to my blog today which may mean if you follow it through an RSS reader you need to resubscribe.  Or at least when I made the changes it said the feed was now through feedburner (not deliberate, a side effect of what I did) which I suspect means it has a different address etc.  Being that I don’t follow my own blog in a reader I can’t tell you for definite though!  Can someone who does let me know please?

>Bit of a Link Fest

>I’ve been working on guest posts for a few different sites this past week.  I have links to three of them to share.

I Love To Laugh over at DisCo: Disability Conversations.  That’s one of my regular guest blogging places and it’s about crip humour and a funny moment at last week’s creative writing class.

A while ago I was looking for books with disabled characters.  One of the books which got mentioned several times was Gridlock by Ben Elton so I got it from the library.  Then, Sarah who runs Same Difference mentioned that she was looking for reviews of books with disabled characters so I wrote a review of it and sent it to her.  You can read it at A Review of Ben Elton’s Gridlock

Nadine Dorries is a trending topic on twitter today following some ridiculous comments she made.  I’ve written a response on Disability Voices – Twitter, Disabled People and Benefit Fraud?  As an interesting side note, I tweeted the link to that 15 mins ago and it’s already been retweeted 10 times, the most any one tweet of mine has.

>On Writing

>I’ve been meaning to post an update about my writing for a while so here goes.

I’ve been doing a lot of work on my novel.  I don’t have a lot to show for it in terms of words but I’ve made a lot of progress in other ways.

  1. I made a list of all the scenes I have and all the ones I need to write still
  2. I then used post its to work out what goes where and how it should work.
  3. Got a lot of feedback on the start of the novel
  4. Worked out that the end I have in mind really doesn’t work
  5. Came up with several ideas for what might work and other twists
  6. Done some necessary research
I’ve just started trying to write a new intro from the perspective of a different character because I started wondering if I’m writing from the wrong perspective.  The other thing I’ve been wondering about is using the MC I have now but turning it from a male character to a female based on all the feedback I’ve had saying it reads like a woman. I plan to write an intro like that as well and see what I like.
Regardless I think it’s very likely that I’ll be going back to the beginning and starting again. A lot of the stuff I’ve already got I’ve gone back to and thought it needs a lot of editing.  So with everything I’ve not written and everything I’ve got that needs pretty much total rewrites there’s not much left that just needs an edit.  And I’m planning to start afresh so it can be consistent.
In the last two days I’ve done two book reviews and also two guest blogs.  None of those are live online at the moment, I’ll post links when they are.
Finally, my friend Jo has started her own blog today called Not Quite Upwrite.  Just in case it wasn’t obvious, she’s a writer as well.