There for the most deserving

This was a really good post in my opinion.  But wordpress ate it and it published blank with all the points I spent ages making gone off into the ether and not here on my blog where they should be.

It was about my friend who after being very ill, spending time in intensive care with multi organ failure, having nearly six months off work and being diagnosed with a life long condition.  And about how she’s new to the world of disability, support, benefits and all that entailled.  But already learning about not being “disabled enough”.  Being told by people that she should be able to get help but then discovering actually she can’t.

And it was about Karen Sherlock.  I didn’t know Karen but she was a disability campaigner.  She had diabetes, was visually impaired, was about to go on dalysis and was being considered for a transplant.  Karen claimed ESA and fought a long battle over many months to get moved from the WRAG to the support group.  ATOS considered her fit for work despite her many problems meaning she didn’t leave the house unless absolutely necessary and never alone.  She had medicals, filled out forms, there were many problems and mistakes a long the way and it was to put it bluntly a battle she shouldn’t have had to fight..

Karen eventually won that battle and was placed into the support group as she should have been originally.

She died two weeks later.

I’ve probably not made my points as well as I had in my original blog entry.  They certainly don’t have as much detail.  But I just wanted to welcome you to this new world.

It’s called Britain in 2012.  It’s a world where “the most deserving” get the help they need.  But where no one knows just who this “most deserving” group of people actually are.  And where some of us are beginning to doub they even exist.

>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.

>Left Out In The Cold Press Release

>

On the eve of the second reading of the government’s controversial Welfare Reform Bill, on 9 March, disabled activist Kaliya Franklin stripped off to demonstrate what the result would be for disabled people across the UK if disability benefits are slashed to the bare minimum.
The photo shoot depicts a naked Franklin lying on the sand on a wintry beach, next to her empty wheelchair.
“I was absolutely frozen when I took my clothes off for the photo shoot,” says Franklin, “but it was nothing like as cold I and other disabled people will be if the government removes our essential benefits.”
The Left Out In The Cold awareness-raising campaign is being organised by disability rights group The Broken of Britain, of which Franklin is a founder and director.
Says Franklin, “It’s vital that every able-bodied person remembers they are just an accident or illness away from being disabled themselves. Many people think if they do become disabled that the state will look after them.
“But the fact is that even under current provisions, disability benefits are not enough for disabled people to live on. If the Welfare Reform Bill is passed, the situation will become unimaginably worse.”



In January, Franklin released a video on YouTube that explained how able-bodied people would be in for a major shock if they found themselves needing to apply for disability benefits. The video can be seen at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q7EXSpmrVMU.

The Broken of Britain group has been campaigning since summer 2010 to raise awareness of the government’s wider anti-disability policies. The group has consistently drawn attention to disabled people being the target of unjust government rhetoric and sham consultations, tabloid slander and political myths.

It says: “We are now the targets of deep and damaging cuts to disability services that are contained in and symbolised by the Welfare Reform Bill. The Bill disguises cuts and changes to a number of benefits, from housing benefit to Income Support that will punish disabled people.”


Notes for editors


1. Kaliya Franklin and other case studies are available for interview.

2. A high resolution version of the campaign photograph is available on request.

3. For more information, contact Rhydian Fôn James at rhydian@thebrokenofbritain.org or 07774021785, or Kaliya Franklin at 07714208602

4. Contribution-related Employment Support Allowance will be restricted to 365 days, meaning that a married claimant would be unable to claim after a year if their spouse works. 

5. The Welfare Reform Bill confirms that Disability Living Allowance will be replaced by the Personal Independence Payment which will use unfair assessment and conditions to disqualify 20 per cent of the current DLA caseload. 

There is no evidence that supports government’s claims that DLA is “broken” and in need of reform. In fact, most evidence suggests that DLA is an efficient and popular benefit, and this support includes the vast majority of the DWP’s own research.

The inclusion of this benefit change in the Welfare Reform Bill took place before the consultation on DLA reform was completed. 

6. Other cuts to disability services not included in the Welfare Reform Bill are:

• Plans to remove security of tenure from social housing tenants, as costly adaptations are a barrier to moving regardless of size of property.
• Many changes to the provision, entitlement to and charges paid for receiving social care and disability services provided by local authorities.
• The Independent Living Fund which provided for the highest level support needs in combination with the local authorities is now to be scrapped without consultation. 
• Access to Work reform redefines what it is “reasonable” to expect an employer to provide for disabled staff, meaning it is likely to push many currently employed disabled people out of work and back onto benefits. 

7. Disabled people are more likely to live in poverty than any other group in the UK and more likely to be unemployed or in low paid jobs. 60% of those with a work-limiting disability are unemployed, with 25% wanting to work.

Creative Commons Licence
Left Out In The Cold by Kaliya Franklin is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at http://thebrokenofbritain.blogspot.com/.

>More One Month Before Heartbreak Details

>

With just a few days to go before One Month Before Heartbreak I’m sure everyone wants to know what will happen on the day.  I know I do and I’m running it!
This is a work in progress so please bear with me/us.
There will be a master links list on The Broken of Britain Blog.  So please let us know where you’re post is so we can include it.  A brief idea of what it’s about is also useful (just topic not details).  You can do this in the comments on the blog or on twitter.
We also have a One Month Before Heartbreak blog where we hope to cross post as many submissions as possible.  If you are happy for us to cross post your submission please let us know.
Please try to comment on some of the things people post.  I would love if everyone who takes part could comment on at least one other post.  Blog comments rock and can be especially useful in a situation like this where people may be posting personal things.  It takes a lot of guts, please respect that.
If you see something you people like make sure to tell others about it.  Blog it, Facebook it, tweet it, e-mail us and let us know.  Shout it from the rooftops, even!  We want to get the word out about what the benefit cuts mean to us.  Share the details of the link list and our blog.
Equally, I hope that there will be several “highlights” posts from different bloggers after the event as a kind of round up.  If you do one I want to know about it!  Or if you have any ideas about One Month Before Heartbreak, let us know.
On Twitter? Use the hashtag #ombh in One Month Before Heartbreak tweets.  Or the Broken of Britain hashtag #TBofB.   #UKCuts and #disability are also useful hashtags if you can fit them in.
Consider changing your profile picture on Facebook, twitter or other social networking sites to the One Month Before Heartbreak logo for the 3 days of the event.  And posting the link to explain why.
We want to make as many people as possible aware of One Month Before Heartbreak.  E-mail your MP and tell them about us.  A template letter will be available from Sunday for people to use.
The most important thing I think for everyone involved is to enjoy it and stay safe.  No one is under any pressure to contribute on each of the days, or to take part at all.  Please don’t feel under any pressure to do more than you are able or comfortable doing.
And finally, a really really massive thank you to everyone who has helped to raise awareness and get the word out there so far.  I’m absolutely blown away by how big this is shaping up to be – and I couldn’t have done it without you all!
Emma

>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.