Monday, 28 April 2014

Going Back (Poem 2014)

Where there were fields,
There are houses,
Crammed like sardines,
In a tin.

We would play,
Spend our days,
Running with the wind.

Those nights we watched for foxes,
Have been replaced by soulless boxes,
That people live within.

Sunday, 20 April 2014

Given (Poem - 2003)

Finding someone 
To love you, 
Isn't the easiest 

After all 
It's not something, 
You can 
It has to be 

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

My Letter to the Mayor of Swindon - A Response to his Comments About Disabled People.

Dear Councillor Martin,

As a happily married disabled woman, I have to say that I was appalled by your recent comments regarding disabled people, and sex.

Although I was highly offended by your use of the word ‘Mongol’, I am more offended by the fact that you see disabled people as less than human beings, who in your eyes, (and they eyes of this government as a whole, actually), don’t have the right to live as normal a life as we can.

Quite frankly, I think people with beliefs such as yours, shouldn’t be allowed to have sex and breed, just in case such bigoted, discriminatory, heartless and outdated views are passed on.

They show an almost unbelievable lack of insight, compassion and understanding.

Just because a group of people are different to you, what gives you the right to judge them so harshly?!

Love and sex, are part of life. No one has the right to say that anyone should be deprived of it!

I hate to break this to you, but disabled people are people, too! I do realise this may come as a shock to you, but we have the same wants, needs, and rights as everyone else does!

I would also like to point out that anyone can be affected by disability, and their lives can change in a heartbeat.

No one chooses this life, and no one is exempt from the possibility that it could happen to them.

I sincerely hope that you do not ever find yourself in our situation. If you did, you may just regret your words.

I am stunned that someone in public office would think that it is acceptable to say such things. It is not. I would have thought that, (at the very least), you would have the decency to keep them to yourself!

You must be aware that these views are hurtful, and you must also be aware that they will affect your reputation, and popularity.

I hope that there are consequences for your actions, and that this incident isn’t just ignored. You do not deserve to have the privilege of holding public office.

I hope you will do the decent thing now, and step down from your post.

May I also suggest that you make a donation to a charity that helps disabled people. Should you need a list, I’ll be happy to provide one.

An apology is not enough.

Yours sincerely,

Helen Sims

*Councillor Martin has now resigned from his post.

Link to story (with update).


Thursday, 3 April 2014

First Love (Poem 2014)

Somewhere in me,
Lies a past that we
Had to leave behind.

Talking to you again
Should be easier, but then,
We never said goodbye.

So this is closure
By a few weeks exposure,
To a person that was my first love.

Unanswered questions
And old suggestions,
I'm looking at from above.

That I'm happy now
Makes it easier somehow,
But you and I understand,
Wherever I will be
There's a piece of me,
That is always holding your hand.

(Image: Grammarly)


Wednesday, 2 April 2014

Brown (or White) Envelope Disorder - Living in Fear of the Letterbox

As I write this I am recovering from what we campaigners call ‘Brown Envelope Disorder’ – or ‘White Envelope Disorder’ (since it applies in equal measures now). It is what happens to a disabled or ill [benefit claimant] when a brown or white envelope appears on the doormat, particularly those marked ‘DWP’ –Department for Work and Pensions.
I was upstairs, waiting for my painkillers to kick in, when the letterbox went. For an ‘everyday’ person, it is normality. It is part of life. However, if you are disabled or an ill benefit claimant, living under the constant threat of an ATOS assessment or benefit sanction, [the sound of the letterbox] immediately causes the blood pressure to rise, and panic to kick in.
I sat on the bottom of the stairs, shaking and looked at the brown envelope (marked DWP) on the mat. Even though I know (rationally) that ATOS assessment envelopes are usually white, and that I am not due to be assessed for Personal Independence Payment (PIP) – the government’s replacement for Disability Living Allowance – for at least a year, the effect on me (and so many other ill and disabled people) is a reaction of pure fear. I sat there, unable to move, almost as if I was frozen to the spot. Rationality doesn’t come into it anymore. They play games, change dates, change criteria; so even if you think you know what’s what, (and when), for me (and so many others) the fear is still there. My heart begins to pound so loudly that I can hear it in my ears, and my palms begin to sweat. The rational part of me says ‘pick it up and open it. It’ll be fine’. The vulnerable, anxiety prone, part of me knows it is coming.
If I want to keep my life the way it is, I will have to go through a Disability Assessment for PIP, which is stacked against me. I will have to justify my right to the small amount of support I get. I will have to justify myself, my existence, my attempt at as normal a life as I can. I will have to sit there while someone judges me, and asks me leading, (unfair) questions, that are designed to deprive me of support and the things that able-bodied people take for granted.
I was born with Cerebral Palsy, and cannot walk or stand unaided. I suffer more or less constant pain, anxiety and depression – not to mention a few other things. The anxiety and depression have been made worse by this government and the media’s portrayal of disabled people as ‘scroungers’ and fakers. They have deliberately misled the public on the levels of benefit fraud, and we are paying the price.
I continued to sit on the bottom of the stairs, with all this going through my head. I feel worthless, and I know that I will be stripped of my Disability Living Allowance by the transition to Personal Independence Payment. I know that I am luckier than some. I have my husband (and his Pension Credit) to help us live, but for me it’s about independence. It’s about being able to behave like a ‘normal’ wife.
As things stand, I can help my husband pay the bills, I can take myself to the doctors or hospital appointments, I can go out (when I feel well enough), and see friends. I can feel like a ‘normal’ person. If they take my DLA, they take all that too – and I have spent years fighting to keep self-esteem and independence and to build a life for myself. I can’t lose it!
At this point, I am beginning to hyperventilate. ‘Be rational,’ I try to tell myself – ‘be RATIONAL!’ I fear the assessment itself even more than the consequences of it. Sitting on the stairs, I’m imagining all sorts of things. The assessor’s eyes look at me, and judging me. She looks tidy, she looks together, she tells herself. Yes I am, and I’m so lucky. What isn’t so lucky, is that I can’t sleep due to pain and anxiety….even though I’m so very tired.
I’m tired by life, and I’ve been made even more tired by government lies, and persecution, and the feeling that I have to struggle even more than I do already. Why is this happening to me? Why is this happening to any of us? Haven’t we been through enough? I start to cry. Eventually, mid panic attack, I ring my sister, who tells me to breathe deeply, and reminds me that whatever this government says or does, I am a person…and I am worth something. She tells me that if it is the assessment, I’ll handle it, and that they have no right to make me feel like this…in my own home. I tell her I’ll open the envelope and call her back, which I do.
It turns out, that is just a letter confirming my benefit amount, and my level of claim. I curse myself, knowing that I should have checked with a fellow campaigner before panicking, but like I said rationality doesn’t come into it anymore; and besides, there are so many other people like me (and worse off) that don’t have the campaigners to turn to, and don’t have the information at hand. Who cares about how they feel? This government certainly doesn’t!
As my heavy breathing subsides, I go back upstairs, and I’m physically sick in the toilet bowl. No one should be going through this. It is psychological torture, and I’ve had enough. This government needs to be held to account for its actions. There needs to be a proper impact assessment done on the Welfare Reform policy, because what I went through today is only a small part of it. It is causing pain, suffering, panic, malnutrition, isolation, homelessness, and even suicides. Somebody, somewhere, needs to make it stop… Now!

(Image: Google)