#Housebound #ESA and Surviving #Coronavirus

I am one of an unknown number of people unable to leave their home for much or all of the time; I live with a number of Chronic conditions all of which mean I function on a High dose of Medication.
This is a person post outlining the problems I, along with doubtless many many others, are facing during the Corvid19 Crisis.
Before I begin I do want to say how very pleased I am to see self employed people and those who’s jobs are at risk, supported £ during this time.
However, I’m also Very Concerned for the number of #Sick & #Disabled people Surviving on #ESA, and maybe #PIP. Firstly lets look at Food & Household Essentials; how the Heck are we supposed to manage the Increase in aforementioned goods AND How are we Even supposed to Access the #Essentials??
The Supermarkets are talking well, with special shopping hours for Vulnerable people but; what use is that to those of us unable to get to these venues?
It has just taken me over half an hour to desperately struggle to unload my delivered shopping from the crates stacked on my doorstep, into my hall, all the while feeling the need to apologise to the delivery driver who stood watching.  I then grappled with the transfer of goods to my kitchen;  and then of course I had to put it away. Usually the drivers bring my goods into the kitchen and help me unload onto the worksurfaces meaning I do not have to bend; and with osteoarthritis of the spine, This is an Amazing help.
All the above took place without me receiving over 50% of my order, including potatoes, bread and mince; all of which were supposedly available last night?! So now I have to go over another week without basics before another delivery slot is available!
Is it too much for supermarkets to consider not only providing shopping Times for #Vulnerable people, to line up their online shopping sites with their stock and Prioritise #Basics for housebound Shoppers?
I am actually fortunate at the minute as my daughter, who is also disabled,  is braving the virus to help me and my 90 year old mum; but not everyone is as lucky.
The second issue is medication & Pain support, I have only recently been forced to wait for a week without one lot of my meds; and the withdrawal was sheer torment. The virus is causing problems with both accessing and delivering essential medication to us housebound folk and I am hearing NO support form the government for this. Further my appointment for steroid injections next week has been cancelled; I do accept this might seem petty to those who do not Exist in Chronic pain but, I assure you it is not. These injections are the ONLY respite I get; once a year,  for a while, I live without the feeling of constantly being stabbed in my neck.
I do get this is not a priority over those who are fighting to survive Coronavirus but they are one of lifelines.
Lastly for today the problem is surviving the issues my Mental Health problems are causing during isolation; like everyone else I’m inundated with often contradictory tales of what we should or should not do to manage the virus. Personally my chronic depression is really playing the ‘what is the point of life’ game; and the problems outlined above, along with the worries of financially coping are causing these thoughts to blow up expedientially.
I am turning to online learning, You Tube, and my lifesaving Kindle for ways to distract both the news and my inner voices.
If anyone is experiencing similar issues to me, and fancies setting up an online campaign about the problems of disabled, housebound people, or wants to sound off Please leave me a comment; a like minded bunch of people online is just what I need right now
Hoping you ALL Stay Safe and As Well as possible xx

free bus travel for all ESA, JSA and Universal Credit claimants.

There is a Petition on the Government website that is asking the Government to : To fund free bus travel for all ESA, JSA and Universal Credit claimants. It was created by Maria Nelson who lives with back and joint problems and due to her semi-rural location has a 12 mile circular trip to the nearest jobcentre and a 16 miles round trip for medical and support services. Maria attends various appointments for both health and support, and with a daily bus pass being £7.50, a busy week can cost her over a quarter of her ESA.  Realising she is not alone she decided to start the petition 

Empathising with Maria’s situation, I am supporting this petition through this post; to  give you a proper insight as to its importance, below is the rationale in Maria’s words.

My name is Maria Nelson and I created this petition to ask the Government to fund free travel for people claiming  ESA, JSA and Universal Credit (UC)
The reasons are many and varied, to coin a phrase favoured by the DWP, the  Conservative Government claims it wants to support sick and disabled people, the low paid and job seekers; but the  reality is very different.
Many claimants live in rural and semi rural locations, not within walking distance to shops, advice services or the jobcentre, further many are disabled or suffering chronic pain and assorted illness and so rely on public transport to comply with UC compliance rules such as attending appointments, assessments, jobsearch programmes and training.
These same claimants often need to access support and advice services to fill in UC, Pip, ESA and other claim forms and for help with appeals; these services are usually at locations which aren’t local or within comfortable safe walking distances. JSA claimants and wrag (work related assessed group) also need to attend jobcentres to search for work and attend interviews.
Sometimes  people can claim travel money back, but obviously they have to pay it up front, also jobcentres and assessment centres won’t tell you this unless you ask?
Sick and disabled people also need to attend medical appointments and travel can be costly for this too; for example I have appointments on  both 10th and 11th September and this will cost me £12.00. The cost of travel has sky-rocketed in the past 8 years, but our benefits do not go up according to the cost of living  or inflation; many chronically sick and disabled people are living well below the poverty line, defined at 60% of average income.
I’m at currently living at about 43% below the average income, but others such as those on JSA are far worse off. Many claimants are surviving on income so low that after council tax, bedroom tax, and the money to make up Housing benefit shortfall for rent can’t afford bus travel and are forced to walk many miles. This becomes a real issue if you are one of the many middle-aged, sick, and, or, disabled who cannot walk long distances.
A  further point to note is if claimants could access the free travel scheme ran by most Councils, it would save the DWP and its many training schemes and work provider deliverers a whole lot of clerical hours and paper when paying out individual travel claims.
I feel having concessionary travel passes and it is not the least important,  many disabled people live alone and don’t have access to a car; I can personally vouch that struggling with shopping  because you can’t afford the travel cost is detrimental to health. I pulled my arm joint struggling to get a trolley on a bus; living in a village I have to use the bus to get to and from the supermarket. I also feel completely isolated, which is detrimental to and already has damaged my mental health. Other than essential travel to shop, get to medical treatment I can not afford to get out.
I would also, as per Human Right Act, like to occasionally partake in community and social events when I feel well enough.
Their are millions like me.
Regarding UC, many on benefits will be changed to UC  next year. How on earth are we meant to access help with no income for 5 weeks and having to save to pay the rent for the duration? How are we supposed to access food banks, charity support, advice without travel?
There are so many more reasons a travel pass would free us.
 Please sign my petition  and share it, ask friends to help. Don’t forget to Confirm your signature in the email from Parliament or it doesn’t count.”
On behalf of Maria Thank-you

DEAEP Desperately Needs Your Help:

DEAEP Desperately Needs Your Help: Click to Donate: http://gofund.me/deaepleics?pc=tw_cr_n … …

deaeper

Disability Enabling and Empowerment Project are a group of people who are helping disabled people with the problems that arise from the disgusting treatment from the Ian Duncan Smith and the disgraceful department that he runs.

We give our time to people for nothing but if we are going to carry on helping people then we will need financial help to carry on helping and training people. To date we have funded all admin and travel costs ourselves but our benefits will no longer allow us to do this; to this end we have set up our GoFundMe account.

We have so far successfully won over a dozen cases and helped numerous people with their benefit problems. We have also trained 6 people to be Peer Support workers and are looking to run more courses throughout the UK.

If you can spare even £1.00 this will help us to continue…

View original post 10 more words

How DEAEP helped Former soldier with ESA Claim

One of the long term cases we are dealing with at  DEAEP  is Burt, he initially came to us for help in January 2014, a deterioration of his health had left him unable to work and in October 2013 he’d claimed ESA. He received an award in January and he’d been placed into WRAG, his range of physical and mental health difficulties were such it was clear he was in the wrong group, therefore  he we supported him submit a mandatory reconsideration (MR) claim to be moved into the Support Group.

In October 2014, Burt received the letter informing him his 365 limit for NI contribution based ESA was ending, so we reapplied for Income based ESA including up to date health information from his specialists demonstrating his further health deterioration.  He was immediately re-awarded and the decision maker had again placed him in WRAG, ergo we resubmitted a MR for inclusion into the Support group.

A fortnight ago Burt received a mandatory Work-focussed interview for today, which we arranged to attend at, and everything was running smoothly until Friday when he received another two letters; one for him to attend a conditionality interview on the following day (Saturday) and the second was the start date for him to begin The Work Programme with A4 on Thursday this week!

Burt immediately phoned the DWP and said he could not possibly get to the JobCentre the next day, but he would be attending today; the call centre operator said this was fine and she believed the letters to be duplicates and to ignore them!

We attended Burt’s interview with him this morning, and after the interviewer explained the reasons for the meeting today, (the changes under Welfare Reform) we entered into a debate as to why Burt was not fit for work. We explained how Burt’s Army induced PTSD and Depression, along with his crushed Spine, Osteoarthritis, Chronic Sciatica and Emphysema; meant he is in constant pain and is fatigued from perpetual Nightmares. Fortunately the personal advisor (PA) we met with was not only willing to listen, she was also suffering from disillusionment with Welfare Reform; she shared with us that before the changes, she as his PA, had the authority to decide which group Burt ought to be in, and in her opinion he should be in the support group. When we asked if there were any approximate  time scales for  MR she said No but the decision makers were still considering our request submitted in January!

She then cancelled  the Conditionality interview and completed the Work Programme Action plan, which was due to be filled at Thursdays appointment, with the statement “customer will respond to or attend all appointments booked by work coach or external advisors“; this allowing either Burt or ourselves the option to advise A4 of non-attendance, until such time the decision makers determine the mandatory reconsideration request.

For me there are Three key points arising from this experience:

The Personal Advisor is the one who communicates directly with the customer, therefore they are best paced to determine which group ESA claimants should be in?

There are far too many  ‘sections’ (14 according to the PA today) in the JobCentre, all dealing with small parts of the ‘customers journey’, and as with Burt, claimants can be called in for each separate part; this causes major difficulties for sick,  disabled and financially vulnerable claimants and obvious confusion for call centre staff. Claimants should have One PA who manages their claims for beginning to end?

Some staff at JobCentre are as sick of the ludicrous outcomes of Welfare Reform as we are, and are trying doing their job; but they’re not medically trained and therefore are not be best paced to make such vital decisions.

If anyone finds themselves in similar situations and would like support please contact us at DEAEP, we’re here to help.

 

 

Reasons for Supporting the TRUTH Campaign – IDS Time to Stop the Lies

Earlier this week Debbie and I started the latest stage in the TRUTH campaign, and launched a petition demanding Kathryn Hudson Parliamentary Commissioner For Standards investigate #IDS for persistently misleading both Parliament and the Public.

There are two primary reasons for our campaign; the ongoing misuse of statistics is not only a breach of the code of conduct #IDS is obliged as a Member of Parliament to abide by, but they result in the dangerous and inappropriate Policies disabled people are suffering from. The raft of Policies forming the Welfare Reform Act have been built on these distorted truths and the consequences are as numerous as the Polices:

The above examples are not the whole picture, particularly when we consider the negative outcomes on our health:

I could go on but I think you get the picture, the Joseph Rowntree Foundation got it right when they said     “our current welfare system doesn’t work“.

If any of the above offends, upsets or concerns you, might I remind you these real life issues are ALL the responsibility of one man Iain Duncan Smith, as the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions has overall responsibility for the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP); I’m not suggesting he personally designed the policies but he DID sign then off, he DOES regularly defend them with Lies, and it is this behaviour we are challenging.

Please SIGN our Petition, SHARE, BLOG, and  TWEET #IDSTimeForTruth about this Campaign

We may have started it but…it belongs to YOU.

 Disabled DYING

We’re DEAEP – Can WE Help YOU??

Disability Enabling & Empowerment Project, DEAEP, is a relatively new company run by disabled people and carers; we enable other disabled people to develop the confidence to regain control of their lives, supporting them through benefit claims and also training others to do the same.

Our Courses are aimed at disabled and chronically ill people, affording them the opportunities to expand their skill base and potentially improve their quality of life through enabling them to make positive steps towards Further Education and, or possible employment.

DEAEP has the capacity to offer not only, training and links to employment but we also aim to employ our successful trainees to act as peer supporters to others and potentially as other trainers.

DEAEP are currently running a Level 3 Peer Support in Action course which consists of 5 core modules aimed at anyone who wishes to train to help others. We also develop bespoke courses for other professionals engaged in working with disabled people and other disadvantaged groups

All the above is available in further detail on our website

DEAEP also run a professional representation service supporting people to complete benefit application forms, PIP/ESA, appeals etc; we will also attend assessments/ formal appointments with disabled or other disadvantaged people who find themselves needing support. DEAEP can support individuals from the start to completions of benefit claims.

If you or your company require any help whether it training or representation please contact us via our website.

DEAEP has the advantage of being the only company that aims solely to empower the disabled community and employs people with personal experience of the difficulties that disabled people face every day.

Here We Go Again – DWP to Repeat the ATOS Disaster ?

I’m sure I’m not alone in being totally unsurprised, albeit sick to my stomach at the latest revelation to be leaked from Tory proposals for Benefits, the drastic cutting of  ESA; it appears that new claimants placed in  WRAG will only receive 50 pence a week more than JSA. This has led me to wonder if this extreme reduction has anything to do with the increase in the number of people claiming out of work sickness or disability benefits?

The fact the cut was ‘leaked’ on the same day, and to the same source as the claim, Maximus will be the company taking over the contract from ATOS, also leaves me unsurprised. I can imagine the key players from DWP and Maximus sitting around the table and plotting this decimation of ESA as a part of the contract. The key aim of Welfare Reform has always been to slash Benefits, irrespective of need, and now seemingly wants to privatise all out of work benefits; therefore given Maximus’ existing  involvement in running the Work Programme, and the new Health and Work programme  this pairing seems a perfect match.

However when John Pring initially suggested, Maximus was the preferred bidder to replace ATOS, he also revealed the company’s “chilling” record of incompetence, discrimination and alleged fraud“. Thinking back to when ATOS was initially awarded the contract for WCAs, there were similar concerns around the unsuitability of ATOS, and we all know the outcome of that appointment.

It appears the DWP have completely failed to learn from the ATOS debacle and is planning to enter into another disastrous contract with a seemingly corrupt company, all for Corporate Greed.  Further the DWP seems to be continuing the rhetoric of  blaming us being ill; refusing to acknowledge their attacks on poorest and most vulnerable people through both the continuing  scapegoating and their discriminatory Policies, are in any way responsible.

The ‘leaking’ of these two announcements today suggest the DWP are maintaining their insidious behaviour, softly ensuring their plans emerge into the public psyche in an attempt to build public support:

‘the poorest people are choosing the higher paying benefit to avoid looking for work, because  they are lazy, the DWP are doing the majority a favour by stopping these idlers take the easy option, and are bringing in a company who will stamp this out’

What can we can fight back against this? Johnny Void suggests we gather the information necessary to take Maximus out of the picture and I agree; but I also believe we need to demonstrate WHY sick and disable people need the extra money to survive, lets collect your stories that demonstrates precisely what we do with the difference between JSA and ESA, because if we don’t – We Will Lose it!

 

Disabled and becoming Self Employed – A Case Study

This is my  first official post for Deaeper, the blog site for DEAEP  (Disability Enabling And Empowerment Project), and wearing my professional hat, I wanted to share my experience of  working with 3 other disabled people, collectively utilising our skills and experience to become financially viably self employed.  The following has been adapted from a letter I sent to Kate Green MP in response to Labour’s plan to turn around £8 billion overspend on disability benefits, and the suggestions at the end are specifically aimed at Government.

DEAEP is a charitable social enterprise that offers training and support to sick and disabled people, unemployed, and other vulnerable individuals. Our training experience enables participants to, knowledgeably and confidently, actively support others during times of extreme stress; this could be attending ATOS assessments and, or to participate in social and community engagement.

Our training programme has been specifically designed by sick & disabled people to enable others develop necessary the skills, ability and confidence, to actively empower others to self advocate when needed. We can also offer the opportunity for participants to train as a skill sharer, thus enabling them to impart this learning to others. Alternatively participants might utilise this programme to go onto other further education or into employment. There is a the supervised practice element of the programme wherein participants will provide supervised advocacy for others.

This year we have supported over a dozen users through their varying claims, and issues with the DWP, we have helped people write successfully ESA & PIP applications, supported others with mandatory reconsiderations and represented people at tribunal, we have also enabled people manage their issues with job related training programmes. We have piloted out training programme and from this gained five volunteers skilled to offer this type of support to their peers.  All of the which has been at personal cost to ourselves both financially and in terms of health.

Our overall aim is to enable chronically sick and disabled people participate in society through the provision of an appropriate range of training opportunities, which allows participants to either enrol on Further & Higher Education, gain the necessary skills to confidently enter Community Engagement enter employment or, fully re-engage in Society; and to enable those too ill to work access the social security the are rightly entitled to.

We are experiencing several primary issues :

Our target group have no access to finances to pay for this essential  service

There is no money to help us ‘sell’ our corporate training to the people who want/need it; despite having hard evidence of demand from Unite the Union and several solicitors offices.

We have no way of paying for the administration costs of running the course.

The fact we are all disabled creates problems for us personally with the DWP

An acknowledgement by DWP that disabled people often require more time to complete tasks and their energy levels are low due to fatigue.

We believe the following would make a huge difference

A loosening of the earning on benefits regulations would allow people to continue receiving ESA/JSA until such time they become financially independent

Access for small companies to government grants/contracts which offer direct provision to disabled people

A government funded grant programme  enabling disabled people develop the confidence and self awareness to allow them access further opportunities

Changes to access to FE opportunities specifically aimed at disabled adults thus removing the current barriers

This is a précis of our experience to date and I would welcome positive feedback and comments from others on this post.

Thanks for reading – Jayne x

DWP Breaks its Own Rules when threatening Support Group Members

Further to my post earlier this week, today another example of the most seriously ill disabled people being told they must attend work focussed interviews or else be sanctioned; never mind this is in direct conflict with the DWP’s own guidance which states :

Support Group

If you have a condition that severely limits what you can do, you’ll be in the support group. You’ll not be expected to look for work and we won’t expect you to take place in any work-focussed interviews”.

How the DWP are going to Spin this is yet yo been seen; what I do know is this is yet another time this unelected Government has deliberately broke it’s own rules and then Lied about it!

This ongoing Discriniation against Disabled People is  Totally Unacceptable & I can only hope people say ENOUGH

It is Time to Join the Truth Campaign and Sign the Petition  to STOP The SPIN.

#NOWPetition #Impeach DWP

Are you in the ESA Support Group and have been asked to attend a Work Focussed Interview?

It would appear the DWP are up to their tricks again – threatening sick and disabled people with withdrawal of benefits unless they attend Work Focussed Interviews – Even those of us in the Support group!

Below is a Calling Notice from DPAC

DPAC have been getting information that people in the ESA Support Group are being required by JobCentre Plus offices to attend Work Focussed Interviews, under threat of benefits being withdrawn if you don’t go.

According to the DWP Webpage, if you are in the Support Group you “You don’t have to go to interviews, but you can ask to talk to a personal adviser. “, which should mean that they cannot require you to attend.

We are going to look closely at this and do whatever we can to get this stopped, but in order to do that we first need to gather information about how widespread this is, which areas it is happening in and how long it has been going on.

DPAC are asking for people to come forward  – if you are in the ESA Support Group and have been contacted by your Jobcentre to attend an interview, they would really like to hear from you, please email  atmail@dpac.uk.net and they will get back to you.

DPAC will deal with all emails in Complete Confidence. If you or someone you know has been called for a  Work Focussed Interviews Contact DPAC as soon as possible.

 

 Don’t let the DWP Bully you