Time For Business, Innovation and Skills to Play their Part

We have all heard the Government’s stance on work pays and in that the one box fits all even if you can’t work due to disability.

Now it has become very apparent and being disabled myself I have the great opportunity to see this from a different light, that this stance is not working so much so that it is costing lives real lives and it is for that reason this Governments stance must change and radically change for the greater good.

So why is this not working? after all it has been proven a failure from across the pond in the USA and yet we still follow there policies if that was the be all and end all, can we not think for ourselves and stand on our own feet or does our Government not have those capabilities any more?

We are a wide and diverse nation of many capabilities and you simply cannot put everyone in the same box, whilst some from the disabled communities can work and do work and I for one will never go against that ideology because I like many millions of others do believe that work can pay and can indeed be good for ones well-being there are also many that work is a distant dream and can never be achieved because there disabilities prevent them from doing so and will lead to a shortened lifespan.

Now for those that do want to work and the Government must never make this an enforcement issue which we are seeing now more needs to be done to full-fill that and the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills needs to play it’s part because it will be an uphill struggle and a two part process.

The Department for Work and Pensions needs to collaborate and work more closely with the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills there needs to be seminars and conferences for businesses they need to be taught the benefits of employing disabled citizens, there needs to be greater Government budgets to assist in adaptations otherwise the Government plans will just not work.

I have been on countless interviews and got no where despite tailoring my skills to the jobs being applied for, you see we live in a greedy nation that is being killed and employers put profits before anything else and that has to change, we used to have a positive about disabled symbol and campaign by Jobcentre Plus but the take up was very low due to Jobcentre Plus not actively promoting it that has to change and be brought back as I thought it was a very good idea but I see very few advertisements now having the two ticks symbol.

IB to ESA Migration Pitfalls

As many of you who follow my blog will know I have been having a tough time getting the help and support I am entitled too mainly because due to the SAH Stroke I have mental health issues that are invisible to the naked eye so go untreated despite pleading with my GP.

I have frontal and temporal lobe damage due to two things:

1) A delay in getting treated for the SAH Stroke.

2) Oxygen starvation causing the grey matter to die.

This has caused many issues like memory loss, lack of motivation which is very tough and hard to understand but it is like you really want to get something done but the brain will not get its backside into gear to carry out that task then there is executive function which is an umbrella term for:

“Executive function is an umbrella term for cognitive processes such as planning, working memory, attention, problem solving, verbal reasoning, inhibition, mental flexibility, multi-tasking, and initiation and monitoring of actions”

Could you imagine how useful I would be in a working environment not very is the answer and no doubt the reason I have been turned down on countless interviews.

Anyway back to my claim, all was going well on Incapacity Benefit as I was largely left to my own devises and could plan my days and do what voluntary activity I could manage, however that all changed with the Governments agenda to switch to Employment Support Allowance (ESA) which was often brutal in nature.

You see this ESA was miles apart from the Incapacity Benefit and is no small change no wonder many worry and live in fear, well my day came when that migration letter and the ESA claim pack landed on my door mat and right away I was fearful why you may ask? well there is a 30 day time limit to gather the evidence and fill in the forms and return to ATOS yes straight away for me you can no doubt see a problem there yes that is right the olé chestnut Executive Dysfunction joy it is not.

So anyway I tried I really tried to comply otherwise it would die but try as I might I missed the deadline so I phoned the DWP in the hope of getting a time extension but this fell on deaf ears and I got a letter from DWP telling me my ESA claim had failed and my Incapacity benefit would stop in 4 weeks time as you can guess I was distraught but never being the one to give in like many no doubt would, I decided to send off a reconsideration letter and contact my MP for help the letter is below:

Re: Stopping of Migration from Incapacity Benefit to Employment Support Allowance.

Dear Sir/Madam,

 Please accept this letter to request that you reconsider you wrong decision to stop my Incapacity Benefit.

 This ESA50 Form has now been returned to you although I do accept it was a few days late that was out of my control due to complex mental health issues I have after suffering an SAH Stroke and thus damage to my frontal and temporal lobes caused by blood starvation.

 Because my wife also cares for her mum and who lives with us I am sure you can appreciate we live hectic lives and thus with her mums ever increasing care needs she is not always around to prompt me.

 I endeavoured to return this form to you as soon as possible but the form in it’s self was confusing to say the least and does not relate to the many mental health issues I have.

 The time limit imposed to return forms is clearly not long enough for mental health claimants and one rule does not fit all.

 If my rightful and just claim is stopped it will have a serious impact on us as a family unit because despite being entitled to mortgage interest relief we do not claim this and never have done it was a moral decision we took which we stand by because we do not believe it is the Governments roll to pay this as it was our choice to buy the council house for which was already discounted. However the incapacity benefit paid due to my wide ranging disabilities which was not a life choice goes a long way in meeting our mortgage payments.

 I hope that you can see the decision you took was wrong and that I am not a scrounger as perceived by our wonderful Government who’s MP’s claim every expense under the sun including mortgage payments on second homes.

 I appreciate your rules and regulations do not come from the many good civil servants reading these letters but from management and politicians above so I apologise if this letter is harsh in places but it has to be said because the WCA and ATOS are a farce and goes against all disability law both here and at the EU and UN.

 Yours Sincerely

I never heard a bean from them so decided to give them a phone call and was told that my Incapacity Benefit has been reinstated and that I would here from ATOS shortly regarding an assessment.

I never did hear from ATOS maybe my letter above put the frighteners on them and the DWP maybe that is why I got the letter last Wednesday informing me I will be switching to ESA next month.

However the fight is not over because I have been put into the WRAG group and my claim is limited to 365 days which is no good to me with the physical and mental disabilities I have so am now preparing my appeal.

A statement of reasons has been requested.

A SAR to the DWP has been sent which I will forward to my solicitor handling the appeal.

Further up to date medical evidence has been applied for from my GP.

SO BRING IT ON!!!!!!!

An E-Book from a great friend of mine

This is an E-Book from a facebook friend of mine that I have offered to put on my blog in the hope it can get her a few sales.

Description

Paula Peters was born on 19th July 1971 in Farnborough, near Bromley in Kent. Having suffered with Depression from the age of nine when she lost a close relative and suffered bullying at primary school.

At 18, Paula started the second part of the journey, rapid cycling mood swings. Paula had a breakdown at the age of 23, which resulted in a suicide attempt and her first in patient hospital admission at the local psychiatric hospital.

Paula continued with the battle with her mood swings, never understanding why her moods were cycling rapidly, and getting no answers as to why it was happening. In 1998 at the age of 27, Paula was referred to the Affective Disorders Unit via the Bethlem Royal Hospital, and she was admitted as an in-patient. It whilst while she was there Paula had times when her moods cycled 26 times over a single day she was given a diagnosis for all the suffering she had endured, Cloythmia Mood Disorder.

Stephen Fry termed this condition Bipolar Lite, having been diagnosed with this himself, Paula describes it as the constant ups and downs in her book, “Yes, I really do hate yo-yo’s”, the constant fear of never being in control, the attempt to take her own life, and the condition was so serious, that Paula was admitted into hospital in January 2011 because of a depressive episode and suicidal thoughts. From 2010-2011 Paula was treated by the crisis team at least five times.

Towards the end of 2011 Paula’s health took on a new twist when she became physically unwell and her hands and wrists became stiff, swollen and painful. In January 2012 Paula was given the news she was suffering from the auto immune disease Rheumatoid Arthritis (R.A.) she describes in her book pain of the condition, being scared of the future and the unknown of what will happen, and how mental health disability collides with a physical disability.

In 1995, a therapist at Paula’s local hospital suggested she wrote down how she was feeling as she could not verbalise her thoughts clearly, and a way of expressing herself was born – through words and verse, Poetry. Paula said “whenever I could not sleep, and the pit closed around me, I would write how I was feeling down, and it would help me deal with the feelings I was experiencing and lessen the emotions after a while. I loved writing, but it was only when I became ill with Depression and then Cyclothymia that I started writing Poetry. It has really helped me through some very traumatic and dark times by being creative and helping others by giving them hope and understanding.”

“Yes’ I really do hate yo-yo’s gives messages of hope, and that even with a disability whether a mental or physical illness you can still achieve. The Powerful Poem “Human Beings” and “I am” shows how with a behind a disability there is still a person who can still achieve and has hopes and dreams and just wants to live their lives, a powerful statement based in truth. Within her book she describes the battles with the constant ups and downs, the battles with Depression, suicide, but clung to the hope that she could still achieve.

In 1996, Paula joined the service user movement, speaking out on mental health issues that affected other patients; she ran a campaign to save her local day hospital at the psychiatrist unit and then joined Bromley User Group (service user involvement) where she rose to become their chairperson in 1998 at the age of 27. Paula has participated in video called myths about madness that helps mental health professionals gain more understanding about mental health conditions and how they affect people. In 1999 Paula was attending a Bi-polar self help group and her local group met the world famous actor Richard E Grant as he was researching a part he was given where he portrayed a character with Cyclothymia for a TV production for Lynda La Plant’s Trial and Retribution, the advice Paula among others gave him was invaluable to him, and he was grateful to her and others for their support and encouragement in playing the role with a character with mental illness so accurately.

Paula is a firm believer in user empowerment, and when her local mental health trust came to her local area, Paula grabbed the opportunity to help by getting the service user voice heard in shaping local services something she is passionate about and she says “we use the services, why shouldn’t have a say and influence in what is being provided and how it is being run, and more importantly, what works. We are the experts, the service users,”

In 2010, Paula then came into contact with Community Options a mental health charity that supports people with mental health issues live independently in the community and be socially included as a human being, empowered and enabled. Paula helped set up C.O.I.N (Community Options Involvement Network) and they now have two groups, in Bromley and Tower Hamlets. Paula is still a member of C.O.I.N, but knows there is still a lot of work ahead.

Paula also believes in campaigning for mental health stigma, and pledged her support for It’s time to change, she says “there is a lot of work to be done in getting our voices heard about stigma, discrimination with a mental illness, what we have endured and that most importantly, we are human beings. We are people, we had careers, have families, and have talents. We do not have two heads and nine eyes. We are compassionate and caring individuals who want to live our life despite our mental health. I am not afraid to speak out and get that message across, I do so because there are many who can’t and I want to make the world a better place for them, for me, for the future generations that will go through this. Most importantly, I would like to get the message across that anyone can have a mental health problem, no one is immune. If someone who abused us with lies suddenly developed a mental health problem, they would see a different perspective and would then join us in saying stigma and discrimination is wrong, that we are human. We have a right to a life.”

In February 2012, Paula started a Face book page called “Abolish Disabled Discrimination” Paula says “I want to start a campaign to Abolish discrimination for all disabled people. I would like to be able to challenge policy at national level and hopefully internationally by making people think about the hateful words they use, and for all disabled people to live their lives free from fear. Disabled hate crime has risen 50 per cent, mostly in part to the media, well, there are two sides, and it is time we were heard, I want others to join with me and they can participate in my page, help me administer it, and turn it into a global campaign, we do better if we unite together, because it is only together as a powerful lobbying group that we bring about change.” In March 2012 Paula wrote the poem “Human Beings,” Paula says “Even in my poetry I can speak out and help others. I wrote this poem with a message we are human beings, we want to live our lives, and give us a chance we can show you who we are, that with a disability we are exceptional human beings”. I took a risk, posted it on my Face book profile, and my friends, and family loved it, saying it needed publishing for others to be touched by it, then I sent it to Community Options who declared it was their manifesto, and they recommended Chipmunka publishing, and I took a deep breath, sent it to Jason Pegler, who then said send it more poems and I will have a look and see how he could help. I did that, and he told me he was going to publish my work. Now I have a wider audience to get my voice heard, a lifetime’s dream realised. The messages of hope and encouragement I have received have been mind blowing, people telling me to get their voices heard and get their messages in the wider community, I am passionate about doing this, and it will help me with my own battles, by helping others. I want to raise awareness of Cyclothymia, there is little known about it and I want to change all that. I want to raise awareness of auto-immune diseases as well. But I want to raise awareness that people with ALL disabilities are Human Beings. It has given me new purpose and a new mission in life – campaigning for others but on a bigger scale. I want to see where I can take this. I want to have an impact on other people’s lives and make the world a better place for them to live with a disability.

About “Yes I really do hate yo-yo’s” Living with Cylothymia Mood Disorder and Rheumatoid Arthritis. (R.A) By Paula Peters.

Read the journey Paula experienced with suffering distressing mood swings and the darkness of Depression. The story of “It began” with crying out in the darkness with “Depression” wanting professionals to write about cyclothymia mood disorder “No information,” and wanting to change hospital food and in “Dear old hospital Food” She gives insight to the darkness of Depression, the despair when thoughts of suicide creep in, and the powerful message in the poem “Human Beings” and “I am” that we are people not a label and that we want to live our lives” that despite disabilities she became a campaigner, and her gift in writing poetry brought about by her mental illness brought about the book, “Yes, I really do hate yo-yo’s”. It is a story of despair, fear of not being in control, the fear of the unknown when you are first diagnosed with a physical disability, but despite it all, the message of hope, inspiration, determination, and despite all the issues faced for a person with a disability, they want to get on with their lives and be. Powerful, heartfelt, and insightful writing through verses of poetry,” This is the book called “Yes, I really do hate yo-yo’s” by Paula Peters.

Yes, I Really Do Hate Yo-Yo’s

£5.00

By Paula Peters

ISBN: 978-1-84991-845-9
Published: 2012
Pages: 123
Key Themes: Mental Health, Depression, Cyclothymia, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Mood Swings

http://chipmunkapublishing.co.uk/shop/index.php?main_page=product_info&products_id=2259&zenid=16fd57f017c6743703b735de27bca99c

Working age stroke survivors struggle most to make ends meet

PRESS RELEASE FROM THE STROKE ASSOCIATION.

Stroke is having a drastic impact on the finances of stroke survivors and their families according to a new report, published today by the Stroke Association. Those affected the most are working age stroke survivors who, unable to return to work, are coping with a fall in income, increased household bills and a benefits system that fails to fully understand the impact of stroke.

Short-changed by stroke, is based on the findings of a survey(i) of over 2,200 people affected by stroke and in-depth interviews with stroke survivors on their experiences of applying for Employment Support Allowance (ESA) and undergoing the Work Capability Assessment (WCA).

Findings from the survey found that of those aged between 25-59 (ii):

  • Almost two thirds (65%) reported an increase in household bills and expenses. The same percentage reported a fall in their income.
  • Over two thirds (69%) of people whose income went down reported that the main reason for this is because they are now unable to work.
  • More than a third (38%) cut back on food.
  • The majority (80%) are worried about their financial future.

In addition:

  • Almost 60% of carers report that caring for their loved one had affected their employment. Carers are faced with the stark choice of reducing their hours or giving up work to support the stroke survivor but still requiring an income to pay the bills.

Further research with 120 stroke survivors(iii) brought to light problems when applying for ESA. Their experiences revealed that staff conducting WCA often failed to understand the impact of stroke beyond that of physical disability, leaving some ineligible for ESA (which is worth up to £105 a week) and struggling financially.

Peter, who was 36 when he had a stroke, comments: “I don’t have many physical disabilities but I suffer with lots of things you can’t see, like migraines, motion sickness, seeing flashing lights, poor concentration and problems with my memory. The assessors just don’t get it. Being assessed for ESA left me feeling humiliated and I spent a year fighting for the support I’m entitled to from the benefits system.”

Jon Barrick, the Stroke Association Chief Executive says: “Stroke is often thought of as an older person’s issue, yet about a quarter of strokes occur in people of working age. There are over 300,000 people under 60 living with the effects of stroke in the UK(iv).  Our report shows the heavy financial impact of stroke on families who may face a dual loss of income at a time when financial commitments are likely to be at their most stretched. Not only are they struggling to make ends meet on a day to day basis, but they are unable to plan for their future financial security.

“Stroke survivors face additional problems when seeking Employment Support Allowance telling us that too often the wide ranging impact of stroke is not understood by those who are undertaking assessments. Having a stroke is bad enough, but too many stroke survivors have to fight for financial support when they should be focussing on their recovery.

“Stroke is the leading cause of severe adult disability in the UK and it is inexcusable that the DWP processes are being carried out by undertrained assessors with a view to restricting support rather than enabling help.”(v)

The Stroke Association is calling on the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) to make sure:

  • The benefits system is fair and respects the dignity of stroke survivors and their families.
  • All assessors and DWP staff are trained to understand the impact of stroke and recognise the range of the disabilities it causes.
  • The guidance that assessors use in the WCA is clear and accurate on the hidden effects of stroke.
  • DWP learn from the mistakes that have been made with ESA and the WCA and do not repeat them when the Personal Independence Payment replaces Disability Living Allowance.
  • Click here to download the report

Find out more about the Stroke Association’s Life After Stroke Campaign or sign up to show your support by visiting www.stroke.org.uk/campaigns

For more information please contact the press office

Ends

Notes to Editors
Short-changed by stroke is the second chapter in the Life After Stroke campaign.

i.) Daily Life Survey conducted by The Stroke Association. 2,200 stroke survivors and carers completed the survey Sept – Dec 2011.
ii.) 520 respondents were aged between 29-59.
iii.) Stroke Association survey of 120 stroke survivors and 10 in-depth interviews on WCA and ESA through external agency (BCD Care Associates) 2012.
iv.) Approximately a quarter of strokes happen to people under the age of 65. Reducing brain damage: Faster access to better stroke care National Audit Office Report. Department of Health 2005
v.) The disturbing truth about disability assessments, Margaret McCartney, BMJ, 08 August 2012

  • A stroke is a brain attack which happens when the blood supply to the brain is cut off, caused by a clot or bleeding in the brain. Around 150,000 people have a stroke in the UK every year and it is the leading cause of severe adult disability. There are over one million people in UK living with the effects of stroke.
  • The Stroke Association is a charity. We believe in life after stroke and we’re leading a community of people to change the world for people affected by stroke. We work directly with stroke survivors and their families and carers, with health and social care professionals and with scientists and researchers. We campaign to improve stroke care and support people to make the best recovery they can. We fund research to develop new treatments and ways of preventing stroke. The Stroke Helpline (0303 303 3100) provides information and support on stroke.
  • The Life After Stroke campaign is proudly supported by IPSEN. Ipsen Limited is the UK subsidiary of Ipsen, a specialty pharmaceutical company. Ipsen’s ambition is to become a global leader in the treatment of targeted debilitating diseases supported by franchises in neurology, endocrinology, uro-oncology and haemophilia. Our extensive Research and Development programmes are focused in peptides and toxins with an active policy of partnerships.