disability

All posts tagged disability

When Duty Calls Gonna Bust Some Balls, Cause I Am The Mob

Published October 7, 2013 by Bellatrixa

 Yesterday morning I was awoken by a robin sitting next to  my bed and singing at me. It had somehow managed to fly  into my flat, no need to call the RSPB for me keeping a wild  bird inside! This morning, however, I was faced with  something a lot more unsavoury.

While for many years I have always had a low opinion of The Sun, never has it reached the depths that it has today with this headline:

I tried to give The Sun the benefit of the doubt at first. Thinking possibly that they were simply trying to help draw attention to the problems with mental health care in the country. Then I realised if that was indeed their intention, they had gone about it in one of the worst ways possible; by continuing the demonisation of the sick and disabled in Britain. The more I thought about it, even in my half-awake state, the more angry I became. The story is paywalled on their site. I wouldn’t spend 30p on a paper copy even if I was out of loo paper, let alone £1 to join The Sun+ and read more of their crap.  A friend of mine shared the image of the front page herself and said that she had emailed her displeasure.

After some mulling on the situation, here was my email, knowing full well it most likely wouldn’t be read or even acknowledged, but it was better than silently fuming:

To whom it may concern,

I do not buy your paper as I consider it to be nothing better than cat litter tray liner, however I will admit that The Sun has a long history as a newspaper, a very large readership and attempts to pride itself on journalistic integrity. Considering your paper has had a Conservative slant for a long time, I, along with many others, have come to expect the small mindedness that’s generally printed in your pages. How you enjoy campaigning against various minority groups.

I have to admit that your ‘Shop a Scrounger’ campaign irked me as a great many people suffer from hidden disabilities and neither your paper nor your readers have any right to harass or cause distress to those who are genuine claimants, and that includes promoting the idea that everyone in receipt of ESA or DLA are doing so under false pretences. Had you actually checked statistics (government ones at that!) you’d see that DLA actually has one of the lowest benefit fraud rates.

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/fraud-and-error-in-the-benefit-system-201112-revised-estimates

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/fraud-and-error-in-the-benefit-system-preliminary-201213-estimates

Not to mention, there has been a government phone number to report benefit fraud for many years. Yes, back when Labour was in power! I remember seeing commercials for it on TV. The funny thing is, whenever people come out with these anecdotes about “this guy down the pub who’s on the fiddle”, they rarely if ever actually report it. For those who do, most of the reports turn out to be people with genuine conditions. Doesn’t this prove that your campaign isn’t really going to achieve much?

As a DLA claimant myself, I wasn’t even aware that I qualified for DLA until I was told by a therapist who helped me to fill out the forms which are incredibly demeaning as well as dispiriting. They make you talk about how bad your conditions are and for many people will illnesses, this can be incredibly draining and demoralising. Sometimes putting all those things into words can make you feel even worse and hamper any recovery you might be experiencing. That along with the intrusive assessments by ATOS which have been proven over and over to be unfit for purpose.

The other week, I was disgusted at the sale of two Halloween costumes that contributed to the perception that mentally ill people are ‘scary’ and ‘dangerous’. From what I understand, both Tesco and Asda have withdrawn the costumes. My problem wasn’t with the costumes, but with the labelling of them.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-24278768

So, imagine my disgust when I see the front page of your newspaper today trying to create more scaremongering regarding those with mental health conditions. How about reporting how many people in those same 10 years had been killed by drink drivers? By alcohol? By black people? Oh wait, if you’d have said ‘black people’ that would have been racist, wouldn’t it? But you seem to think it’s perfectly ok to attack those who are mentally ill because it’s not racist. It’s the same bigoted thinking, it’s the same prejudicial thinking and it’s unacceptable. Even the government, as much as I loathe them, are making faint hearted stabs at trying to change the way people stigmatise the sick and disabled. I will admit that it seems vacuous from them given how their policies have caused the deaths of many sick and disabled people. Shouldn’t that be the headline you should be running? About how many people have died in the past 3 years of this coalition government as a result of the draconian policies on the sick and disabled? I would expect that a paper with your finanical backing would be more than capable of hiring journalists that can at least use Google:

http://blogs.mirror.co.uk/investigations/2012/04/32-die-a-week-after-failing-in.html

I’m aware you probably won’t like to acknowledge what a rival publication has to say, but I shall quote the following in the hope that some sense sinks in:

‘We’ve used the Freedom of Information Act to discover that, between January and August last year, 1,100 claimants died after they were put in the “work-related activity group”.’

That’s the number of people who have died in a period of 8 months. People who you are intent on demonising with your headline. People who are the most vulnerable in society. People who need help the most in this time of hardship. You’re not helping us at all with headlines that only cause panic, fear and more persecution. Were you even aware that the mentally ill are more likely to be victims of crime and that the number of those has increased since this government came into power with its divisive policies which are aided and abetted by yourselves?

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-24420430

You are just as culpable as the government in those deaths and the hate crimes that happen towards the disabled. If you decide you have the responsibility to inform, you also assume the consequences of your actions. There is indeed a problem with mental health care in this country, however your newspaper’s headline is not the way to draw attention to it by causing yet more scaremongering and continuing to perpetuate the myth that all mental health sufferers are axe wielding psychopaths.

I will not only continue not to buy your paper, but will also take a more active role in campaigning against your odious little rag and small minded reporting. I know others will do the same and not just individuals like myself. The disabled community has taken far too much for far too long. Report on something more important such as David Cameron’s plans to scrap benefits for all under 25s. I’m sure that would be a great concern to your newspapers demographic considering how many of them are under 25 and buy your paper because it has tits on Page 3.

Yours not faithfully,

Bellatrixa Booty

 

If anyone wishes to use my email as a template to send to The Sun, be my guest. For too long this sort of thing has gone on unopposed. The lions of Britain are waking and boy, are they pissed off.

The Primary Role of the Government is to Protect Property From the Majority and So It Remains

Published December 3, 2012 by Bellatrixa

You know, it’s been quite an amusing December 3rd. First of all, it was International Day of Persons with Disabilities, which in England was particularly ironic considering  some new legislation especially for us with disabilities! No, it’s not the re-opening of workhouses, but it’s pretty close. From today in England, all of us who are on sickness benefit and deemed ‘fit to work’, will have to do so. For nothing. For as long as they feel like making us do it. If we don’t? We lose our money.

Now, I get some people haven’t worked in their lives. I’m not one of those people. Currently I’m having to claim Employment Support Allowance (ESA) as I’m long term sick, have no specified date when I will be fit to work again and wouldn’t be able to hold down a job. When ESA was brought in, the idea was to replace the old Incapacity Benefit (IB) which didn’t have reassessments and people just claimed for as long as their doctors would sign them off for. Obviously this wasn’t the most efficient of systems, hence the reformation and introduction of ESA which would work nicely if it worked properly. See, the problem with ESA is that the government contracted this French IT company called Atos to do the Work Capability Assessments (WCAs).

Something struck me as strange about this; why would you ignore the fact that we have a national health care system who could do these assessments and appoint an IT firm to do them? So, Atos basically pays “healthcare professionals” to conduct these WCAs. When you go to them at/around the 13 week period of your ESA claim, you’re not even guaranteed to be seeing someone who has an understanding of your conditions. They’re meant to have information from your GP and any hospital/medical reports. You are in turn expected to provide any details of medication and treatment. The WCA is divided into two sections: the interview and the physical. The interview is a series of questions about how your day to day routine is affected by your illness, the physical is meant to assess your ability to perform simple physical movements. As far as I can tell, the ESA50 form that you fill in prior to this is meant to dictate what happens in the medical itself.

In my personal case, I have both physical and mental health issues. I was diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) at 19 following 5 years of depression and self harm, soliosis (curvature of the spine) at 18 after 3 years of issues with my knees and back which I initially thought were due to the physical nature of the work I did and playing hockey, then borderline personality disorder (BPD) at 24 following further self harming, depression and suicide attempts as well as increasingly erratic behaviour. In my WCA, I was asked about how I had been coping with the wait for the medical, how I had gotten there and some questions about my daily routine. Now, as someone who has health issues that fluctuate (particularly the BPD), I wasn’t entirely sure what sort of response to give, so I spoke as if it was one of my worse days. When it came to the physical, I was having issues getting on and off the couch which was raised a fair distance above the ground and had no supports to help me stabilise myself, on top of the fact that as I was getting down, even though the woman doing my assessment saw I was having issues, she walked back over to the desk and didn’t bother helping. Apparently I’m far from the only person who has had this happen so courtesy is something also excluded from these assessments.

I’m currently waiting on the results of my WCA, so only time will tell whether they find me fit to work or not. The really dispiriting part is that people have been dying as a result of these inaccurate assessments. Last month, disabled rights movement Spartacus published The People’s Review of the Work Capability Assessment, which was a report put together by those who have been through the ESA system themselves or helped others through the process in a response to Professor Harrington’s third and final independent WCA review. An average of 73 people die each week as a result of the WCA process. In a first world country. Britain.

Today there was a 2 minute silence in remembrance for those who have died as a result of these despicable assessments. There has been increasing social media coverage of events and even celebrities speaking out against the effective genocide in my country. It’s funny because it also makes a mockery of the Second World War; you know, how Britain fought against the Nazis and has similar inhumane acts going on.

Groups like Spartacus, DPAC, UK Uncut and The Black Triangle Campaign have been doing sterling work across social media in drawing attention to and in supporting those who are experiencing distress and strife with the cuts from the government.

Although there have been a number of demonstrations (I’m going to a local one on Friday outside the Atos branch that I had my WCA at), one feels as if nothing’s changing. There are more and more people speaking out now about the persecution of the disabled, and yet there are no changes to anything and everything seems to be falling on deaf ears. I seriously worry how much more blood needs to be shed before something happens.