Thursday, 20 December 2012

Lucky (Poem)

I'm lucky
Sitting here,
And safe from the cold.
I have shelter
And a home.

I'm lucky
Sitting here,
Wondering what to eat for lunch,
I'm not a starving mass
Of dying skin
And bone.

I'm lucky
Sitting here,
Thinking of Christmas presents,
I don't face the season
And alone.

I am lucky
Sitting here,
Family not far away
That I'm here at all,
And lucky,
I am loved.

Sunday, 2 December 2012

My Response To Lord Freud's Heartless 'Funeral' Comments

I was stunned by Lord Freud’s comments the other day. Something twisted in my stomach, and I wanted to throw the nearest object!

The ‘well, what do you expect?’ type attitude I got from some people I spoke to afterwards, didn’t even begin to cover it!

Firstly, ‘the poor should take more risks because they have less to lose’ idea doesn’t even make sense to me, and I don’t think it would to anyone who understood what it is like to struggle financially.

For those that have to live on a tight budget (and in more and more cases lately) have to choose between heating and eating, the idea of taking risks with what money you do have is a scary one. You can’t take risks with little or no ‘disposable income’ because every penny counts and you spend most of your life hoping that the proverbial ‘rainy day’ never comes.  

To me and many others those comments alone showed a fundamental lack of understanding that has been central to this government and their policies.  

 According to a May 2012 article in the Telegraph, the cabinet is worth seventy million pounds (source:  http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/9290520/Exclusive-Cabinet-is-worth-70million.html ). How then can they possibly claim to understand the hardship increasing numbers of people e are facing in today’s society? They can’t!

Many of them have been wealthy from birth and have had all the privileges and opportunities that go along with it. This brings me (albeit briefly) onto another important point. Why are we allowing ourselves to be so many clearly ‘out of touch’ elites?

Personally, I think it’s time for some big changes. There should be no more so called ‘career politicians’  who have been fast tracked as a result of who they know, where they went to school and how much money their family have. We need people who have at least lived a ‘real’ life and known what it’s like to do a ‘proper’ day’s work.

I’m a big believer in the idea that the experiences you have in life shape you as a person. If you haven’t experienced an ‘everyday life,’ it is going to seem distant from you and you will view things differently. The decisions being made will not have any impact on the people making them, so they don’t concern themselves with the consequences of their actions.

All this ties in rather nicely with further comments made by Lord Freud in the same interview. He was asked what he knew of a life where having ten pounds less to spend would make a difference? I was impressed by the guts of the interviewer in asking such a question, but the Minister’s response made my blood run cold. He said  

“We have a lot of information feedback and listen a lot, so I think we can absorb the information about what it takes and what’s required…I think you don’t have to be the corpse to go to a funeral, which is the implied criticism there.”

Several expletives and a calming conversation with some friends later, I had just about resisted the urge to throw something at the radio!

What hit me first was the total insensitivity of his comments. There is an average of seventy three deaths per week as a result of Welfare Reform. Deaths of the most vulnerable, ill and disabled people in our society who have either been found wrongly ‘fit for work’ by ATOS and died later or those who had been left feeling so fearful and desperate at the thought of life without vital benefits, that they saw no option but to take their own lives! With that in mind those comments are even sicker than they might first appear.

I was disgusted at the heartlessness of the man. These deaths are happening as a result of policies which he has put in place and to me it felt like he was rubbing our noses in it.  

I couldn’t help but think of the corpses of the people that have died as a result of this, and it isn’t an image any of us campaigners really want to be reminded of. It adds to the anxiety and fear that we already feel on a daily basis. We are confronted over and over again by the reality of what’s happening to us – just because we have the misfortune to be ill and disabled. His comments compounded all that and actually, made me feel physically sick.

May I remind you Lord Freud, that when you attend someone’s funeral, it usually means that you cared about them,  and you valued their life. You have no such feelings about the lives of the poor, disabled and ill. Your comments showed that we are worthless to you and your government. If we weren’t you would never have made them!

If it was up to me, Lord Freud would resign. His comments were despicable and unforgivable. The attitude of this whole government towards the sick and disabled is embodied right there, in the attitude of one man. I was left feeling worthless temporarily, but it made me more determined than ever to fight back, and I did that through writing this article.

I am not a corpse! My life and the lives of thousands of others like me, has meaning and value even if you and your government can’t see it!  It is you that are the corpses because you clearly don’t have an ounce of understanding or compassion. You have no right to make judgements on us.

Saturday, 1 December 2012

Christmas is Off! (Short Story)

Rudolf opened a sleepy eye and surveyed the scene. There was no fresh hay, and no one had brought his breakfast yet! It was definitely that time of year again. Hic Choo!  Yes, definitely that time of year again, for Rudolf had a cold. It would help of course, if there were fresh hay and a bit of breakfast when it was required. Neglect, that's what this was – someone should call the R.S.P.C.A!

Rudolf tapped on the ground impatiently with a hairy hoof, and waited. Prancer jerked awake at the sound. Sharing a stall with a diva had its drawbacks! Prancer peered at his companion and noticed that, once again, his nose was red, swollen and sore. Prancer tried to suppress the silent joy that welled up in him. After all, it wasn't charitable to take pleasure in someone else's misfortune, even if it was Rudolf's!
Instead he said brightly, "Gee Rudy, you have a cold!" His words were greeted by a disdainful huff and a gruff "State the bloomin'...hic choo...obvious, why don't you?!" Prancer smiled inwardly, and closed his eyes again.

Just over an hour later Norm, the bespectacled elf appeared, "Sorry I'm late boys! Been a bit hectic upstairs..." Rudolf said nothing, but noted the elf's change in clothing. The usual comfortable brown over shirt had been replaced by a green and red apron. On it were embroidered the words ‘The North Pole welcomes the Festive Season'. "Festive, my arse!" Rudolf muttered, and began to munch his hay. 

Just then, Mrs Clause appeared in the doorway with her hands on her hips. Her face was pinker than usual. Norm wandered over to her and draped his arm around her shoulders. The Reindeers exchanged glances, ‘Aye, aye, what's going on here then?' From the doorway they clearly heard the words "Christmas is OFF!"

Much later the Reindeers were still in shock. Rumours, whispers and speculation suddenly abound. Had the placid, loving, long suffering Mary Clause finally had enough of her husband? Was she going to leave the North Pole with a certain bespectacled elf? "Let's face it..." Rudolf interjected between sneezes, "He's Brad Pitt by comparison!" The other reindeers sniggered, but no one could avoid the dark clouds of doom that seemed to be gathering over the North Pole.

It was just before dawn the next day, when a large man wearing faded jeans and a crumpled shirt that was two sizes too small wandered aimlessly into the stalls. Rudolf failed to recognise him at first, but as he came closer the long white beard gave him away. A beard which contained pieces of cornflake, traces of tomato sauce and if Rudolf wasn't mistaken, chocolate cake. ‘So this is what Santa Clause looks like on his days off is it?' Rudolf mused, ‘Charming!'

Santa pulled up a stool and perched beside Norm, who, for most of the night, had been sitting reading a novel. Rudolf watched. ‘There may well be fisticuffs.  What would happen then?!'
The two men sat in silence for a while. It was Santa who spoke first eventually. "I'm too big for the sleigh" he said simply, "I know..." Norm responded, putting his book down, "...She did warn you Clause. She tried to change your diet, bought you one of those ‘Wii' thingies to help you exercise more. She knows how much you love your ‘Play station'. "Yes" came the soft reply.

Rudolf listened to the anguished conversation. A moment ago, he had nudged Prancer awake and now they stood alert, uncertain and hardly daring to breathe.
It was true that Rudolf hated Christmas. He hated the chaos, the long, seemingly endless journey and he hated his constant...hic choo...colds, even if they had helped make him famous, he thought smugly. But he loved Clause. They all did. Rudolf caught Prancer's eye, and they knew they had to do something. For now though, captive audience that they were, they carried on listening.
"...You kept on eating, sneaking food when you thought no one was looking..." Norm was saying matter-of-factly, "...and that ‘Wii' thing is still in its box!" Santa nodded sadly. "There must be another way..." Santa said quietly, "We can't just cancel Christmas. Think of the children!"   

Despair crossed his features, as he thought of children around the world, that he, he would let down.  "Someone could go in your place..." Norm said brightly, trying to sound hopeful, but he knew what Santa's response would be, and he was right. "It's against the rules!" Santa replied, his voice gruff with emotion.  Norm stared at the floor, and thought for a moment. Suddenly, an idea struck him. A magnificent idea!  "We could make the sleigh BIGGER!" Norm exclaimed excitedly. 

The little elf began hopping from foot to foot as enthusiasm took hold of him, and his imagination ran riot. Santa looked over at his friend, "We could, but there is just not enough time Norm!" Santa sounded helpless. "We have just over a week"...Norm replied, shaking Clause by the shirt in excitement ... "IT CAN BE DONE!"

While the workshop hustled and bustled, hammered and sawed, the reindeers went into conference themselves,
"I see we weren't consulted about any of this!" Dancer commented, between bites of carrot. All the other reindeers turned to him, "SHUT UP!" they cried in unison, "Was only sayin'" Dancer muttered, "Well, don't!" Rudolf replied, hammering a hoof on the ground with authority. "Hey man, you had a visit from the ghosts of past, present and future or somethin'?!..." Dancer questioned, tilting his head to one side ..."You hate Christmas!" Rudolf was ruffled, "I hate...hic...choo...Christmas, but I don't hate Clause!"

There was silence for a moment while the other reindeers looked at Rudolf with new eyes. Maybe he wasn't as selfish and egotistical as they all thought he was, perhaps they had judged him unfairly.
"We need to contact ‘The Reindeer Council'"... Prancer spoke up ... "There won't be enough of us to pull the... uh, new sleigh." "Consider it done!" Donner called from the back stall. The reindeers, a short time ago filled with such uncertainty, now found themselves bursting with a new sense of optimism and camaraderie.

As dusk descended on Christmas Eve, the Pole was alive and buzzing like never before. In the workshop dishevelled looking elves, lead by an ecstatic Norm, tested and retested the extended sleigh. Its front had been widened and painted beautifully with gold, red and black paints. The pieces of metal that held the contraption together had been replaced, buffed and polished. In short, in shone and gleamed like a new penny.

Rudolf stood proudly at the front ready to lead his friends and the large group of ‘agency' reindeer on their journey. "Hic..." "Uh oh!" Donner said from the back,"CHOO!" completed Rudolf. "I wish I could shake off this cold..." he commented, "It's really beginning to get under my fur..." "Or up your nose!" Prancer retorted from behind him.

After finishing what was left of his salad, Santa kissed Mrs Clause goodbye. She touched his cheek affectionately, "Remember what I said, NO mince pies!" Santa groaned, "Which leaves me with?..." Mary Clause smiled, and looked deliberately toward the door, "Rudolf's carrots!" she said loudly, knowing that our favourite reindeer would hear. The sound of chortling and the distinctive sound of a hairy hoof hitting the ground told her he had!

With his wife and the elves watching from the windows, Santa saluted them all, and climbed aboard his brand new sleigh. "Here we go boys!" Santa said, taking the reins and shaking them.
The ecstatic reindeers and a smiling Santa took easily to the air. He waved at his family once more, and watched the Pole fade into the distance, as they began their journey.
Christmas was once again ON!

(Image Courtesy of Google)

Friday, 30 November 2012

Sometimes I wonder... (A Plea). -Facebook Status Update.

Sometimes I wonder how other people would feel if what is happening to disabled and ill people of this country was happening to them?!

How would they feel if they were going to lose the independence they had always fought for, and vital money they relied on?

How would they feel if their friends and comrades were dying every week and everyone was ignoring them when they tried to ask for help?

How would others feel if they were disabled, and the government had taken their lifeline (money) and car away from them?! This is happening to people!

How would they feel if it was them that couldn't walk without help, felt permanently ill, had pain that felt like it might rip them apart, and were still told by the media and government that they were 'faking' and 'scrounging off the state?'

How would they feel if the people who decided if they kept vital disability benefits, were not specialists in your condition and yet still had the right to decide if you were sick/disabled enough to keep benefits?

People are dying - vulnerable people who have been through more suffering and hardship already, than probably most can ever imagine.

I wonder how people would feel if the whole of society made them worthless every single day?

What would it be like to have justify your existence like we do?

I am a person. We all are! I did not ask for my Cerebral Palsy -None of us asked for any of this!

All I want to do is be able to carry a plate across the room without help, go for a walk across the fields with my husband - or simply be able to stand in the middle of room, without having to hold on to something - but I can't, and I never will be able to.

I'll never be able to hold my baby in my arms either. I don't have the option of becoming a mother and watching my kids grow up. I imagine it's the loveliest thing ever, but I can't have it.

We can't have a lot of things. Disabled and ill people have not chosen to be victimised, vilified, made to feel like we are something somebody stepped in, and then stripped of our rights!

All we want is to live as normal a life as we can. We don't ask for much. We just want to be able to make the best of our bad situations, and keep our self respect. Self respect that is being eroded by this government!

Don't swallow the lies and 'scrounger rhetoric'. Please, please, please, don't let them swallow us!

You can your support by at least reading and sharing some of the articles and various bits I put up.

I'm not asking you read all of it. I know it's a lot! But the only weapon we have against this government is sharing information and making people aware of the suffering that is happening around them.

It won't take you more than a few seconds to click 'share' or more than a minute to sign a petition. Please don't ignore us! Our lives depend on it.

Thank you.

Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Spirits and Sleuths - A Short Story for Halloween.

Hi, I’m Mia. Let me begin by telling you that I am not your average fifteen year old girl in more ways than one. I listen to the Eagles and Fleetwood Mac and I don’t do ‘N Dubz’ or Lady Gaga. It’s my mother that waves that waves ‘Heat’ magazine under my nose! I have no interest in Katie and Peter’s latest stunt! Mum and the kids at school think I’m weird. "Really Mia, You should make some attempts to fit in!" Mum will say. "Why?" I reply simply and head back to my room.
Anyway, I digress (yes, I know words like ‘digress’. I learnt them from reading books) and I don’t wish to be mean, but it seems that half the kids in my class probably wouldn’t be able to even spell it!

This story isn’t about me, it’s about my best friend Emma or rather, her house. I guess you could say it’s your average new build family home with three bedrooms and a fully fitted kitchen, blah, blah, blah! The Estate Agent’s details said that there was ‘room for the kids to play’ and almost made a feature of the slide belonging to Emma’s toddler twin sisters. Emma hated that! Actually, Emma hates them! They were an expected present, very unexpected according to Emma, who is silently seething about having to leave her room behind when the family move somewhere bigger.

Anyway sorry, where was I? Oh yes, the house. I have stayed there lots of times but I always feel uneasy. The first time I went in there four years ago I felt so nauseous. Emma laughed and put it down to me eating too many of her Dad’s dodgy pancakes! I didn’t find it funny.

Then she grabbed my hand and hauled me excitedly upstairs to see her new room. I remember suddenly not being able to breathe properly as we reached the doorway, and then being almost overwhelmed by the strong smell of smoke and I stopped dead. Emma turned to me, "You alright? You don’t look too good..."she asked, concerned "Has your Mum burnt something?" I replied quietly, my voice cracking slightly. "No, not in the last twenty four hours!"Emma laughed opening the door to show me her en suite. I think she expected me to be jealous, but I wasn’t. "Oh well, maybe the neighbours are having a bonfire or something then" I replied, and did my best to forget about it.

The day of Emma’s fourteenth birthday, she asked me over for a barbeque. It was a Saturday so Mum said yes when I asked to sleepover.

The house was icy cold when I stepped through the front door into the hall. It was the middle of August and sunlight was streaming through the windows. I had been comfortable in my short red summer dress but suddenly I wished I had brought a jumper. "Hello Mia!" Emma’s mum said brightly as she carried a basket of washing downstairs "...Oh Emma, for goodness sake, get Mia a drink! Don’t just leave her standing there. She’s walked all the way over here!" Emma grumbled and pulled me into the kitchen.

Leaning against the kitchen worktop, I waited for my best friend to fill up our glasses with Coke when I clearly saw a little boy run towards the back door, from the direction of the hall. He looked about our age and had ash blonde hair, appearing not just once, but twice, as the scene repeated itself again. 

My heart stopped beating for a second, and my blood ran cold in my veins. "Em!" I whispered almost too scared to speak, "Did you see that?" "See what?" she replied, handing me the glass. I struggled to take it from her because my hands were clammy and trembling, "Um... you won’t believe this but I think I just saw a ghost! It was a little boy in dark brown trousers, and a white shirt... He just ran across there!" I said gesturing towards the back door. Emma put her arm round me and giggled "Oh yeah, right, you see dead people! You need help Mee!" she commented, and giggled again.

Up until then I had doubted myself, believing that everything I felt and even smelt in that house was a product of the overactive imagination that my Mum says I get from Gran. Still shaking, I took hold of Emma’s arm, "Come on, we’re going outside!" I said rather more urgently than I had intended. Once out on the lawn I felt safe again and the goose pimples began to disappear.

I remember being reluctant to stay that night, and I didn’t sleep a wink! I was ‘top to toe’ with Emma who snuffled and shuffled most of the night, frequently pulling the Justin Bieber covered duvet completely off me.
About two in the morning I needed the loo. Closing my eyes and counting to a hundred, I tried not to think about it. Eventually, I had to give in make my way across the landing to the bathroom. With every click of the pipe work or creaking of floorboard, the latter of which was of my own making, I jumped out of my skin and looked nervously around me.

I was tiptoeing back past the twin’s room a few minutes later, when I noticed a hazy red mist floating steadily up the staircase. Suddenly I no longer cared about waking anyone up and bolted back to bed as fast as my legs would carry me! Emma stirred momentarily as I pulled the duvet roughly over my head. There I stayed huddled tightly and listening to my own breathing, until the birds finally started to sing.

I was picked up just after breakfast, and when I’d hugged Emma goodbye, I asked Mum to drop me at the library. She sighed and rolled her eyes, "What do you want to go there for? We’ve got the internet at home!" When I persisted, she did as I asked telling me to ring when I was ready to come home.
I enjoy the peace of the library.

I love the quiet industriousness of it, and the hissed "Sshhh!" every time someone’s mobile accidentally rings! I turned mine off, and began to search the ‘Local History’ section. I found lots on industry and the Civil War but that wasn’t what was needed. Sipping some squash that I quickly smuggled out of my bag, I looked around. Just about to give up, I noticed the librarian, and wandered nervously over to her. She was busy on the computer but she looked up and smiled warmly, "Excuse me" I muttered quietly "I don’t suppose you would know anything about the housing estate on Wilmhurst Lane, would you? It’s just I can’t seem to find anything."

The woman had red hair and when she smiled at me her green eyes twinkled. Not at all the way you’d expect a librarian to look. "This way" she replied... "The estate used to be fields with a few smallholdings. My Grandfather was born there."
She showed me to a big pile of newspapers tucked away on a bottom shelf. "No one asks to look at these much" she said almost apologetically. "There are some old maps over in the corner. You should find what you are looking for and if you need any help I’m just over here."

I thanked her and, feeling like Sherlock Holmes with a wonderful buzz I can’t explain, I began trawling through facsimiles, papers and maps. Time flew by. I was propelled by thoughts of Emma’s house and the field it was built on. I grinned to myself. ‘Heat’ magazine couldn’t give you this type of buzz!

Sometime after lunch, I struck gold! With a map that showed the location of ‘Little Croft smallholding’ at my side, I found a front page story dated March 1910. "Hamsworth Family Die in Fire Tragedy". I felt sad. That would explain the red mist and the little boy running toward the door. Despite myself I let out a tiny squeal of delight and everyone turned to look at me. I shrank down in my seat, embarrassed. From her place behind the desk the librarian looked in my direction and smiled.

On the way out of the library a while later, I filled out a membership form. When the librarian took it from me, she looked at my name in its black block capitals. "Well, hello Miss Woodward" she said, "glad to see you have such an interest in books!" Her eyes made their way slowly down the form, checking for errors as she spoke "Don’t forget if there’s ever a book you can’t find, just come up to the desk, and ask. I've been here long enough to know where most things are". 

I smiled, and thanking her, I turned to make my way towards the exit. However, as I walked through the heavy doors and out into the street, the woman's voice seemed to follow behind me, "Just ask for Lucy, Lucy Hamsworth. They will know who you mean"...

(Image - Courtesy of 'Google')

Monday, 15 October 2012

Dear Mr Cameron - A Letter to the Prime Minister (Sent 14.10.12)

Dear Mr Cameron

Following your closing speech at the party conference, I felt compelled to write to you in the hope that I may go some way to changing your mind about your policies regarding disabled people.

No disabled, ill or vulnerable person in the country deserves to be targeted, victimised, stripped of their independence and be made to suffer. No one deserves the anxiety and fear that you have inflicted on us.

No one in the world should be made to feel like they don't matter and they don't have a right to support.

The most vulnerable people in this country should not be labelled as 'scroungers' and should definitely not be forced into destitution. They should not be feeling so desperate that they feel their only option is to take their own lives.

To do that to a whole section of society is despicable, callous and cruel, and I find it hard to believe that any decent leader or any so called 'compassionate' party would allow 73 deaths per week to happen! 73 deaths per week of people who are so ill that they are dying – and yet the deeply flawed Work Compatibility Assessment has found them fit for work! It is not compassionate, it is morally wrong!

Where is the compassion in making people like me suffer even more when we already suffer enough? Where is the compassion in creating so much anxiety and outright fear amongst disabled and ill people?

There is none!

I did not ask to be born with Cerebral Palsy. I did not ask never to be able to walk or stand unaided and I did not ask for my constant pain and mind numbing exhaustion. In fact, I did not ask for any of the heartbreaking limitations that have been placed on my life!

I'm terrified of losing what independence I have worked hard to keep. You aren't just taking independence when you strip people of vital disability benefits (although that's bad enough) but you are also taking away our pride and dignity. That is not compassionate. It's not even remotely fair!

Taking away money from the poorest, most ill and disabled sections of society before you tax the rich is something I will never be able to understand. It is not justifiable - ever!

We did not cause the economic mess and yet we are being asked to pay for it! How can you justify hurting so many people and destroying so many lives?

You and I both know that the figures for Disability Benefit Fraud are very low indeed. In reality only 0.5% for Disability Living Allowance and 1.5% for Employment Support Allowance, yet, you and your government feel the need to lie to the public through the media. Why? We simply do not deserve it. 

As a result of this negative media coverage, disability hate crime has risen by 20% nationally.

It hurts us. It really, really hurts us! We are not useless, we are not work shy or feckless or fraudsters! We are people who just want to live as normal a life as we can. We are not bugs to be crushed!

I'm asking you, in fact I will beg you if that's what it takes, to please, please, please, stop destroying our lives! 

Yours sincerely



Saturday, 22 September 2012

An 'Off Day' - A 'Guest Blog' Post (Written for the 'Spartacus' Campaign).

I think I’m allowed an ‘off day’ occasionally. With everything I’ve been through already, and will continue to go through until the day I die. I should allow myself an ‘it’s not fair’ day sometimes, because it isn’t.

It isn’t fair that I can’t walk or stand without help, it isn’t fair that I can’t have a job or a baby, and it isn’t fair that I am usually tired and in pain. My Cerebral Palsy is not my fault. It is a result of a hospital mistake, for which we have never received an apology.

They could probably argue that I was a ‘Prem’ baby and it could’ve happened anyway. Busy, overworked staff who didn’t notice my faulty heart monitor until it was almost too late. I know I’m lucky to be here at all, but the damage was done.

Anyway, all I’m trying to say, on behalf of all of us, is never underestimate the amount of strength it takes to cope with our daily lives and accept ourselves.

Now we are being told that our lives and our struggles are worthless.
We are ‘scroungers’ and when we get to assessment, our disabilities or illnesses suddenly don’t exist! Well excuse us for being hurt, frustrated and angry!

This situation just compounds everything we cope with already. I feel ok today, but some days I want to collapse in a quivering heap because I am so sick of struggling and having to fight for things that others take for granted.

The government claims that up to 75% of disability benefit claimants are fraudsters, and they are using doctored figures to justify harsh, callous and cruel benefit cuts which are damaging the lives of people like me. The real figures are very much lower. Only One  in every  Two Hundred  claimants are ‘faking!’

The fact that up to 32 people per week are taking their own lives out of fear, desperation and feeling that there is nowhere to turn is being hidden and ignored.

Put yourselves in our shoes, just for a minute or so. How would you feel?! All we ask is a little bit of support from society and the government.

I will fight against this with every fibre of my being. They will NOT win!

Simply share if you’re with us.

Thank you.

Friday, 21 September 2012

People must wake up to what is happening in the welfare state.

This is real and this IS happening. We must raise awareness of the realities of what is happening to disabled, sick and vulnerable people in the UK. We are wrongly losing our benefits. It is getting worse by the day.  Lives are being all but destroyed. For a disabled person like me or anyone that is too ill to work, benefits are a lifeline.

They enable us to put food on the table and keep ourselves afloat.We do not live in luxury. All we want is independence and the same chances as able bodied take for granted every day. None of us want to live on benefits. I want to earn my own my own money, have a job and be a Mum. Those options aren't open to me.

My Cerebral Palsy means I am frequently in pain and exhausted. The smallest of things that people take for granted and manage in a heartbeat are impossible or very difficult for me. Can you imagine not being able to stand and cook a meal, carry a cup of tea across a room, or not be able to get yourself in and out of the bath? Can you imagine what your life would be like if you knew you couldn't have children? Can you imagine having to think about every step in case you fall? That's what my reality is like. It's draining, it's hard...and it's heartbreaking.
While people have been left without vital money and the assistance that they need due to a deeply flawed system and a government that seems hell-bent on punishing and misrepresenting those who already suffer enough on a daily basis, I have to do this! We have very few people willing to speak up for us, so we have to do it ourselves.

Quite frankly a lot of us don't have the energy or strength to do this, but we are doing anyway, because no one else will. I cannot allow desperate and isolated people to commit suicide and live with myself. We have to at least try and speak out. If I sat back and nothing, I know I would feel awful. As of May 2012 an average of thirty two people are committing suicide each week as a direct or indirect result of benefit cuts.

 The company paid by the government to assess disabled and ill people essentially relies on a computer programme, a sort of 'tick box' system to decide if a person is fit for work or entitled to social security. Many illnesses and variations in a person’s condition are not being taken into account, and they do not accurately reflect the realities of our situation. 

What's more, the people carrying out these assessments are often not medical professionals. They are not required to be. I hear you say, 'well at least they have a person's medical records at hand'...but no, often, THEY DON'T. Can you imagine if someone with no knowledge of what you did everyday walked in and, after meeting you only once, had the right to decide if you got paid or not?! Is that fair? No. 
Many people with lifelong conditions and terminal illnesses are being put through this process, which only adds to the stress and anxiety they already live with.
It's not just the assessment it's the waiting for that letter to drop on the doormat. For me, and many others, it is almost psychological torture. I’m often anxious and unable to sleep Every time the letterbox goes, I find myself thinking 'is this it?' 'Have I saved enough money?  

If my benefit is cut I lose my independence that I have spent my whole life fighting for. I won't be able to visit friends independently if I can no longer afford a taxi. My husband will have to come everywhere with me. I won't be able to help pay some of the household bills and there will be no mobile phone to keep me safe.  
These things are essential. Helping to pay a bill and maintain a household makes me feel 'normal'. There are so many 'normal' things that are painfully out of my reach through no fault of my own!

There are others in far worse situations than myself - People with chronic illness who have been left without enough money for food or to heat their homes because their benefits have been wrongly stopped. The ‘system’ is failing us. We do not need to be punished and made to pay for the mistakes of the bankers and the government. It is not fair and it is not right.

I am asking you as a human being who thinks and feels the same way do, and wants so desperately to have a normal life, not to believe the government's 'Scrounger' rhetoric. I'm not denying that there are people who 'swing the lead', but being portrayed this way by the media at seemingly every turn is destroying my self esteem.

I've worked hard to accept who I am, and accept my limitations. Now, I'm told on an almost daily basis, that I'm a burden on society because I am unable to contribute to our broken economy.

Don't they realise that I am broken too? Being me breaks my heart some days. I say I've accepted things, I try and be strong. In reality, even though I try, I'm not sure I ever really will. I already feel worthless to an extent because I can't work, because I can't have a baby,  because I can't do so many things  I wonder what my purpose is? Lately those feelings have been compounded by a heartless government and a heavily biased, ill informed media smear campaign against all those who claim benefits - justified or not.

The government has claimed that up to seventy five percent of disability benefit claimants are ‘faking’. In reality, the figure is much less – only one in every two hundred claimants are fraudsters.

Please open your eyes and think for yourself. Question what you are being told by this government, before more vulnerable and desperate people are frightened enough to take their own lives. This must not be allowed to continue.   


NB: (2014-Edit) - Weekly deaths have risen an average of 73 - according to later stats). 

Saturday, 8 September 2012

ATOS KILLS - A Facebook Status Update Shared

Apparently, if we say ATOS KILLS on Facebook - we get barred.

They are an IT company after all and shouldn't have anything to do with CARE!

Come on then, bar me, because ATOS DOES KILL an average of 72 people PER WEEK!

If you don't see me on Facebook, you know what's happened.

I hope you also know that I am telling the truth, and if they ban my account, so be it! 

Either way, I'm doing and saying what I believe in and I won't stop!  
You might be able to bar us, but you won't CHANGE THE TRUTH!

Please share/RT and show them that we don't care and the truth must come out!

Helen Sims


Friday, 7 September 2012

Sunshine and Drizzle Cake...

I was in pain when I woke up. My hips were throbbing and the Endometriosis sharpness was surging through my sides. Shifting on my back, I wondered if it was too late to cancel our plans? I couldn't guarantee I wasn't going to be sick again.

My husband peered around the bedroom door, "How are you feeling? If you want to cancel we'd better do it soon..."

Bright, beautiful sunshine was streaming through the window, and knowing how rare it has been this summer, I responded with, 'No, I'm OK'.

I wanted to be up, out and taking photos of a church we hadn't been to yet. It might seem a strange hobby (especially for an Atheist) but I love taking photos of churches almost as much as I love taking photos of derelict buildings!

Churches and the graveyards that surround them are special to me. It's the architecture, the history, but most importantly it's the peace and the stillness. There is a calming effect whether you believe in 'anything else' or not. Churches rarely change so the feeling of timelessness is another thing that attracts me.

Imagine all those people for all those generations, that have pushed open that heavy door...

I didn't bother with breakfast - I rarely do. The 'Endo' makes me feel to sick in the mornings. Instead I swallowed a painkiller and sipped a cup of tea. Tea is my 'starter fuel' and feeling sick or not, I find I don't function well without it!

Marian, (my husband's sister) arrived and gave me a hug. We watched our husbands load my wheelchair into the back of their new car. "I hope it fits" she said, smiling at me, "Me too" I replied as another pain shot through my hip and down to my toes.

It did.

Mells church, (the church of St Andrew) is especially pretty. I'll include its Wikipedia link so you can see it for yourself, but I loved the porch with its window, that you can see above the outer door, and the interior is especially ornate, so much detail and unique memorials - one if which was designed by Edwin Lutyens.


I hope the link works!

The graveyard has several notable burials, perhaps the most notable is Siegfried Sassoon (1886 - 1967) -the  war poet and soldier. I'll put his wiki page below too:


With my wheelchair parked beside his grave (the church yard is too bumpy to push the wheelchair over and I definitely was not in a fit state to walk even a little way on my crutches), I wondered about all the things he must have seen. That has to change a person.

The writer in me wondered about his writing process, and if he had a desk! I don't have one - usually it's the dining room table or my notebook comes to bed with me...

I shivered a bit as the pain ran through me again...but nothing compared to what people involved in war must experience. I felt lucky.

Mells is quite close to us. It's a beautiful village with old cottages, a post office, pub and a few tea rooms.

The place is riddled with history, and I believe the nursery rhyme 'Little Jack Horner' has its origins there. The Horner's being local wealthy landowners, and responsible for bringing many 'arty types' to the village.

The sunshine made my pain seem less important, and as I sat on the wooden outdoor chairs of 'The Walled Garden' with the warmth on my back, I knew I'd done the right thing in forcing myself to go out. It is a case of forcing myself sometimes - what with the pain, nausea and depression, it can be easy to just stay at home with my husband and let the days slip by.

The lemon drizzle cake sweet on my tongue, the sunshine, and my husband's hand in mine made me so glad this one hadn't.

Thursday, 30 August 2012

Can You See Me? (Poem - 2009)

For a few precious moments
I escape,
Into my perfect world.

I'm drifting
Clad in silver
Over a vast ice rink.

I don't feel
I don't think.
I'm right there,
Can you see me?
The real ice queen
I was meant to be.

For a few precious moments
I escape,
Into my perfect world.

I'm singing
This time,
Centre stage
Radio City Music Hall.
I'm up there,
Can you see me?
I'm having a ball!

For a few precious moments
I escape
Into my perfect world.

I'm dancing
In a red dress,
A smile is on my face,
Just because I can,
I'm dancing in the rain.
I'm out there,
Can you see me?
I'm where I want to be.

For a few precious moments
We have escaped
Into our perfect world.

We're standing
Holding hands
In a field of perfect green.
We laugh,
Just because he can,
He gently kisses my cheek.
Can you see us?
We're still in there,
This is no daydream. 

It's necessary for writers' to have a strong imagination. I couldn't do what I do without it. In fact, I couldn't DO without it!

When I was in hospital for all that time, a large part of it was spent flat on my back counting the squares on the ceiling. I was unable to move, and especially during the heat of that summer, time dragged! I created a little world for myself where I could do all the things I can't in reality.

Sometimes, as the poem tells you, I was a figure skater, others I was a dancer, and sometimes I was simply a mum at home with her children. 

That isn't meant to make feel sorry for me, because actually being able to escape like that (usually with music playing through headphones) has given me so much joy and peace when I have needed it most. I suppose it is almost like meditation in a way, and I treasure it.

As my rehab progressed, we were required to spend an hour each day (usually between lunch and more physio), lying on our stomachs with our feet dangling over the end of our beds. They called it lying 'prone' and it was done in order to stretch muscles after surgery.

I still do it most days now when my muscles are cramping and tight, but back then, doing it day after day was painful, not to mention boring!  After a while, I was able to drift into my imagination and with my headphones on and my eyes closed - those hours flew by!

I did it again much later before my GCSE and A level exams.  I would just try and relax. Although, especially when it came to my A level's,  I still went to pot! 

It didn't matter how much I revised, I was panic stricken as soon as I entered the hall. My heart pounded, my hips cramped badly each time, and my hands shook. The writing on the papers swam in front of my eyes, and even though I tried so hard to get a grip, the panic was relentless.

Needless to say, when it came to my A level results, they weren't what I wanted. I managed to completely fail two of them and the third (English Lit) was not the grade it should have been.

Fat lot of use my 'meditation technique' was to me then!

Anyway, later in life it is still useful - especially when I feel down or the pain is particularly bad, I'll either let my mind take me somewhere else or I'll do some singing. I love singing as much as I love writing, and both give me great stress relief. 

The last stanza of the poem is probably the most important to me, because it tells you what happened later, and how reality can be even more special than the dreams ever are.

Yes, I get depressed sometimes (as no doubt you will find out) and yes, I do still need to 'escape', but not so much in the last ten years. 

I'm stronger now, and I know I have my husband's love - exactly as I am. I don't need to be anyone one else. I can be me - and that makes me so lucky.

H xx    


Sunday, 26 August 2012

Depression - A shared 'Status Update'

It's been a rough few weeks for me. Well, it's been a rough year for all disabled and ill benefit claimants, as we continue to fight this government.

I suppose, given my (almost) lifelong battle with depression, the fight and constant worry, coupled with lack of sleep and pain too, I was always going to have another bout eventually. Thankfully it's been a short one, and I am beginning to feel much better.

The constant lies and 'scrounger rhetoric' hurts every single one of us. It is not like we choose our disabilities, illnesses and limitations!

I'd love to live a 'normal' life more than anything else in the world.

As I've said before, it breaks my heart sometimes, knowing that I can never have children and watch them grow, knowing I can't stand long enough without pain to cook a meal for my husband. I can barely stand long enough to make a cup of tea without pain ripping through the lower half of my body.

It's not just the Cerebral Palsy, it's the Endometriosis too. If you add to that the Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, and the exhaustion that pain brings. You might understand why I get depressed sometimes!

It's just so hard to know you face the same struggles for the rest of your life. I will never be 'free' to do the things others do.

None of us want this for ourselves. Now we have to cope with the extra stress of what this government is doing to our lives.

I for one, have felt so hopeless and helpless - so beaten down by it all. I feel it often but I manage to fight it off usually, by throwing myself into the campaign and reminding myself that I am not alone.

In the last few weeks though, something gave in me. I wasn't suicidal by any means, but I just felt so tired. I wish they knew what damage they are doing to us - how much it hurts to be made to feel like you are 'persona non grata' in society.

I wish they cared.

It's all bonuses for rich people, and big business. I can't help but feel that if they claimed back the tax they are owed, and closed certain loopholes, then the poor and vulnerable wouldn't have to pay the price like we are now.

We don't ask for much.

Anyway, I just thought I would share yesterday's Facebook status with you, to remind people that they aren't alone. We all want to give up sometimes...but I won't. Not while there are people out there facing such uncertain futures, who cannot speak for themselves.

Here it is:

'Now that (I think) I'm coming to the end of a mini bout of depression, I can admit it to you. If you know me well, you'll know that I've suffered with it on and off since I was 14 - with the worst bouts being in my teens.

You will also know that I've taken antidepressants since then. The depression is 'clinical' and made worse by permanent damage to my body's ability to produce serotonin, due to so much anaesthetic over a short period of time when I had my surgery.

The last few weeks especially, I've been weepy and tired. I'm always tired, but I've felt like every piece of energy has been zapped out of me. If I'm honest, campaigning has been so hard - and I have felt like chucking it in and walking away. Just letting what happens, happen! I KNOW that isn't me!

When I don't want to sing - or rather when singing doesn't make me feel better, there's a problem. When I don't even want try and beat my writers' block - that's a really bad sign!

I've just felt completely worthless and useless and like I just can't be bothered, even to do the things I love.

Hubby said he's noticed a few times, but I've hidden it well. That's the thing with depression, sometimes you feel like you have to hide it, because no one wants to know someone who is feeling awful about themselves, and about life in general.

'I wish you'd talk to me' comes out of people's mouths so easily, but it's very difficult to know where to start, or put into words something that you really don't understand yourself - and 'I wish you'd talk to me' is easy to say, but it is harder to listen sometimes.

Anyway, what I really wanted to say, was that I'm sorry if I haven't been myself lately, or I haven't done or said what you needed me to. However, (hopefully) I'm on the right track again now.

The fight back will continue! :-)

Love, H xx'