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Where we are — and a shout out to @CharitySANE @MindCharity and @Rethink_ #MentalHealthSafetyNet

by on January 22, 2015

Boudicca Rising, our Project Manager, writes:

When I drafted this blog, one of our members said “good stuff, albeit grim. However, it’s where we are”. No truer words and all that.

After a brief hiatus in which nothing much seemed to happen, we have had a small flurry of requests for urgent help from people who are desperate to survive in the current climate of benefit sanctions and hysteria around benefit claimants.

Just imagine if you can, being ill. Imagine being in a cold flat or house, with no money for heating. Or food.

Imagine having a baby and having to choose whether the baby ate, or was warm.

Vox Political: Work capability assessor asked why depressed claimant had not committed suicide

Vox Political: Work capability assessor asked why depressed claimant had not committed suicide

Imagine having to sit through an assessment where an ATOS advisor asks you why you hadn’t killed yourself: Work capability assessor asked why depressed claimant had not committed suicide.

… the assessors’ attitude seemed to be that she couldn’t be depressed if she had not already killed herself.

Imagine if you can, the sheer desperation Jacqueline Harris, a former nurse, must have felt – visually impaired and suffering back pain so excruciating, she was waiting for an operation – when her assessment took place.

The only question asked of her during a two minute assessment was whether she could catch a bus.

Jacqueline did kill herself, after a career spent caring for the sick. Half-blind UK widow commits suicide after incapacity benefit cut.

Jacqueline is not the only one who has reached the limits of what she could bear and sadly, we don’t think she will be the last.

According to this article in The Independent Atos told incontinent woman to ‘wear nappy’: Firm condemned by MPs for pressuring sick and disabled into returning to work:

  • 1,300 people have died after being prepared to return to work
  • 2,200 people died before the assessment process was completed

However, there are no “official” figures. From that article:

Kevan Jones, a former Labour minister, said suicides of claimants who were found fit to work by Atos had been reported. “There are… a number of well-publicised cases where people have taken their own lives because of this system,” he said. “It is not too strong to say that this Coalition Government has blood on their hands for the deaths of those individuals.”

Tim Salter’s death was equally tragic and again directly linked to cuts made to his benefits when he was assessed by someone not capable of understanding his disabilities, Benefit cuts blind man committed suicide after Atos ruled him fit to work:

A coroner ruled the Government’s decision to axe Tim’s meagre incapacity benefit contributed to his death.

In closing here are some more eye witness accounts of deaths, shaming and humiliations carried out with our tax money on the very people the benefits system is designed to support and help, taken from Benefit Tales » Category Archives » suicide:

Benefits assessment led to woman’s suicide says watchdog:

“This lady had a lot to look forward to,” said the chief executive of the MWC, Dr Donald Lyons. “She was getting married. She was being treated. She was undertaking voluntary work. She had a good social network. There wasn’t anything else which we could identify that would lead us to believe that there was any other factor in her life that resulted in her decision to end her life.”

Grandad shoots himself after finding out his benefits were being stopped:

Edward Jacques, 47, of Sneinton, Nottingham, took a fatal overdose after his benefit payments were stopped.
Jobless Richard Sanderson, 44, of Southfields, south-west London, stabbed himself in the heart.
Unemployed electrician Lee Robinson, 39, of Crawley, Sussex, also took his own life.

We have deliberately quoted from a variety of media sources from as many sides of the political spectrum as possible to show that these are not mere blips in statistics, not drops in the ocean.

These are people, people with lives and loves just like you.

The only difference is that they had the bad, bad luck of becoming ill or disabled in modern Britain where they were treated with disdain, disbelief and derogation.

Over the past few months we have been able to help a mere handful of people who are too ill to work, whose benefits have been partially or wholly removed.

Currently, we are reviewing whether we are able to help a man who needs financial assistance to buy clothes for job interviews after a period of time out of work due to mental ill-health. Whilst this request falls outside the strict letter of our criteria, we feel his circumstances may be such that our assistance may be justified to prevent his situation moving from the precarious into a crisis and therefore falls within the spirit of what we are trying to do here – save lives.

We are aware that there are many more whom we can help and we sit on the sidelines sometimes, in tears, when we hear of yet another precious life lost.

Please help us get the word out – we are here to provide crisis help and we are currently able to do so (see our criteria for financial crisis support here: Eligibility Criteria ).

Please help us get word to those who need us most: in particular, we’d like to shout out to SANE, Mind and Rethink — please, please let your clients know we’re here, that financial support is available if they’re in a crisis due to benefit cuts and sanctions. Let’s have an end to suicides because people think no help is available when it is if only someone told them!

To those who are already supporting us, a huge thank you: we wouldn’t be here without you; and if you’re not a supporter, please support us if you can: your contribution of five quid a month will help us save lives.

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2 Comments
  1. It really isn’t possible to ‘Like’ this, is it? Thank you, Boudie, for pulling all those threads together into a coherent report. Anyone reading — please, please help us spread the word that we’re here to help. Thank you.

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