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Your Help Needed: Our busiest month ever proves I was wrong, @DWP are not listening…

by on February 1, 2017

MENTAL HEALTH PROBLEMS ARE DEBILITATING.

That’s a statement of the obvious if ever there was one, but it’s something that the DWP and their Work Capability Assessment (WCA) staff seem to be either unwilling or unable to grasp, so I’ll say it again, louder:

MENTAL HEALTH PROBLEMS ARE DEBILITATING

They undermine self-confidence and self-esteem, they knock the ability to process information, to relate to other people, they leave people disoriented, sap the will to live, make them want to curl up and die: to get to the point, dear DWP people, mental health problems affect the ability to work. Then when you at the DWP respond to a mentally ill person who hasn’t attended a WCA meeting—or has otherwise tripped up on your point-scoring system—by simply issuing a form letter telling them their benefits have been stopped, that knocks them even further into an even darker place.

@DWP tweeting about helping people

@DWP: “How can we work together to help more people with mental health issues into employment?”

You tweet about supporting people into work but what you do is withdraw support from people who are not fit for work: it is—and I say this with the utmost care—no exaggeration to say that you at the DWP have blood on your hands. You drive people to the edge and over the edge using cold, hunger and despair as weapons, then you wash your hands of them ready to process your next victim. You send letters from hell: “We support your application for heaven but we’ve removed the stairway and taken out the lift for good measure.”

Why, you may ask, such a drastic change of tone after my last post? Why this harsh assessment, these angry words? Simply this: the last fortnight has been our busiest ever period at 5 Quid for Life. We’re now dealing with around 20 enquiries per week, of which about 1 in 4 are leading to us issuing grants. It’s a development that’s taken us by surprise, but it’s one that’s long overdue.

If you follow us on facebook or twitter then you’ll know that we’ve been concerned for some time that we haven’t been reaching the people who need our help. Now, thanks to Turn2us, we are; and every enquiry we field is a tale of personal tragedy from someone who has been kicked when they’re down by the DWP. They’re people who have had the rug pulled from under their feet and been left floundering as their very means of survival have been taken away by sanctions or reassessments of their eligibility for benefits.

Consider Nicky, for instance. That’s not her real name, of course, and the story that we present here has been compiled using details from several different cases to ensure that no specific individual can be identified:

Nicky lives alone and struggles with depression and anxiety to the point where she can’t face going outside, where she can’t cope with meeting other people. She can’t concentrate, can’t think straight, loses track of the days. Her GP has given her a ‘Fit Note’ (there’s a misnomer if ever there was one!) to say she’s not fit for work due to her mental health problems. But the DWP called her in for a Work Capability Assessment regardless, and when she didn’t turn up for it, they stopped her benefits. Suddenly she’s left with no money to pay her rent, to buy food, to heat her flat. No discussion, just a form letter saying that because she didn’t attend her WCA, she’s no longer entitled to benefits—but she can appeal, which may take six weeks or longer to process…

Thankfully, Nicky discovered Turn2us, they referred her to us and we sent her £200 to help tide her over. But the harsh reality is that our £200 isn’t going to last long; and in the meantime, here at 5 Quid for Life we’re running out of money.

Here’s the current situation:

Current a/c balance at 27/01/2017: £3,774.72
Reserve a/c balance at 27/11/2016: £1,003.26
Total: £4,777.98
Income: £95.00 p/m from 15 regular supporters
Cheques issued in January, not yet cleared: £1,400 (7 beneficiaries)
Applications in progress: £1,200 (6 beneficiaries)
Balance remaining, inc. reserve: £2,177.98
Projection: at the current rate we will exhaust available funds, including reserves, within the next 2 to 3 weeks…

Dates are for the latest bank statements, current a/c issued monthly, reserve a/c issued quarterly. Zero interest on current a/c, £0.03 p/m on reserve a/c.

During the time it’s taken me to finalise this post, another four requests for help have come in. The demand is relentless and the need is raw as vulnerable people find themselves stripped of support.

If you’re already one of our supporters, thank you: without your support we wouldn’t be able to help any of these people. If you’re not a supporter, please consider joining us, either by donating through PayPal, through online banking (or a branch visit if you’d like to pay in cash or cheques) or by setting up a standing order direct to our bank account:

Donate with PayPal
Account Name: 5 Quid for Life
Bank: HSBC Woodbridge
Sort Code: 40 47 42
Account No: 2146 8928

I’d also like to say thank you to:

My friends and colleagues on the 5 Quid for Life Committee, who have rallied round to help meet the new level of demand. You all have busy lives but haven’t hesitated to take the time needed to review and respond to applications for help and to bounce ideas around as we try to forge our way ahead. People, you rock and I’m immensely proud of you all: it’s a privilege to work with you.

My friends and colleagues at DLT Books, for your support, encouragement and understanding when I’ve had to focus on 5 Quid for Life when I really ought to be working on DLT promotions and publicity. You are stars, each and every one of you: long may your light continue to shine.

Finally for now, some good news: as a special thank you to all our followers, friends and supporters, DLT Books are offering 50% off their entire Mental Health range. Please see this post for details: A Special Offer from @dlt_books for @5QuidForLife friends and supporters

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From → 5 Quid for Life, News

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