Spartacus Stories

Here is a collection of Stories written by many different disabled people about the impact that DLA has on their lives. It also includes stories of fear about the proposed changes to personal independence payment.

Admin: benefitscroungingscum, Lucia and Lucy
to add your story email us at spartacusstories @ g mail . com (without the spaces) (your posts are there, just being scheduled throughout the day) (can you add how you want your 'name' to appear ta)

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

From An Anonymous Advisor #spartacusstories #spartacusreport

I work for an agency which among other things provides advice to those who need it.  A huge part of that is to do with welfare.  We help with whatever we can.  But a huge part of what we do is welfare related.  Checking to make sure people are claiming all the benefits they can.  Advising how to claim.  Physically filling out forms for those who can’t.  Explaining how the system works.  Supporting people to appeal if necessary.  Homelessness applications when they lose their homes.  Debt management when ends just don’t meet. 

I doubt a week goes by where we don’t spend several hours on a DLA form.  Or let someone without their own phone use ours to apply for a crisis loan as they’ve literally nowhere else to turn.  Crisis loan phone calls can take up to an hour.  Most of that time can be waiting for the call to be answered whilst an automated message repeatedly suggests “why not call later we’re open until…”  A good suggestion if not for the fact this is a form of support for people in crisis – not something that can be planned or put off.

The majority of the other workers in our organisation do so voluntarily.  They are the mum with a few hours to spare whilst her children are at school.  The retiree who still wants to feel useful.  The disabled people who aren’t able to work but who have the ability to do a few hours once a week.  It takes a lot of a commitment to do what we do.  Huge.  Every single one of us, volunteer or paid staff has undergone months of training.  Training that continues even once you qualify. 

I’m not being melodramatic but what we do can be difficult.  You have to learn not to take on other peoples problems.  It’s not always possible and there is the occasional day where you go home worrying about someone you’ve seen or wishing you could have done more.  Sometimes we see people in desperate situations and no matter how much we want to, we can’t do anything.  I’ve heard many new recruits express their shock at how hard this can be.  Several I know had to give up because it was too stressful for them.  As volunteers and staff trying to provde support we have the luxury of deciding not to do that any more.  For our clients, there is no choice.

The single mother fighting to make the system understand she can’t give  her address on a benefits claim because she fled domestic abuse and is living in a shelter (the conditions of which give a PO Box address only for correspondence to ensure safety).  The very ill person who comes in on the coldest day of the year whose benefit claim had been delayed for months; they couldn’t heat their house and barely ate.  The parents told their disabled child didn’t qualify for a blue badge.  The person whose child answered the door to people from the DWP wanting to interview their mum for benefit fraud (when actually the mistake made was the DWP’s fault and not fraud).

Those are just the ones we see, others can’t get to us.  Or we have to turn away as we’ve not got the resources to deal with the number of callers we have.

This is pre cuts.  We’ll continue once the cuts come in, just as we always have.  But our job will be much harder.  I know the coalition want a “Big Society” but that’s what we’ve already  And that’s why although I am not disabled I support One Month Before Heartbreak and all those campaigning.

Originally posted as part of the One Month Before Heartbreak Campaign Jan, 2011 

No comments:

Post a Comment