I, Daniel Blake.
I am a survivor of domestic violence. A mother of three. A carer for my son. Exhausted most days and always struggling for money. I’d like to work. Aside from having children, I have the added responsibility of caring for a disabled child whom I love dearly. Working in a paid job simply isn’t an option for me. It may never be.
Until late 2014 I was also caring for my dad. He died in April 2014. A mere 12 hours before I had a jobcentre appointment, which I attended, for fear of being sanctioned. I cried like a baby, snotted all over the desk and was told to go home. I was called back in 2 weeks later to hand in a CV!! I was told my son would ‘grow out of it’ and that even though I don’t have to look for work I should. Cheers. I already care every moment I’m awake. Anyone know of a job I can do while I’m sleeping?
I’ve been accused of fraud. I’ve been berated. I’ve been harassed. I’ve starved myself to feed my children. I’ve carried my disabled son to school when the car broke down and I had no money to fix it. He’s heavy. I’m no weight lifter. But the likes of me shouldn’t have cars, should we? We shouldn’t have anything apparently.
Advisors have pried into my personal life, asking if I socialise, if I am ‘seeing anyone’, if I want to. Excuse me? I’ve been dragged in for an interrogation for being in a car with a man! (My brother). I’ve jumped through hoops. I’ve filled the endless forms in. Bit my lip and sat on my hands to stop me jumping over that fucking desk and headbutting the pompous Twat telling me all about her holidays abroad. I took my kids camping in a fucking field for 4 days!!
I don’t have to attend their interviews anymore. I don’t claim the benefit that triggers the appointment of absurdity. I’m free from a work focused waste of time. I’m still poor. I couldn’t afford the bus fare to get my oldest to college today. I can’t afford it tomorrow either.
All my experiences pale in comparison to the image of my parents sobbing because they were petrified of an atos assessment when dad was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer. A man who had worked his entire adult life, made to feel like a scrounger because the social security system is now simply a tool to punish anyone who needs help. God forbid human beings be provided with food and shelter. Barbaric! People who have paid their taxes into the pot. People who are vulnerable. People who contributed to society in ways that cannot be measured in money.
I am Daniel Blake, and I am sick to death of this fucking shit!!
“I am not a client, a customer, nor a service user.
I am not a shirker, a scrounger, a beggar, nor a thief.
I am not a national insurance number, nor a blip on a screen.
I paid my dues, never a penny short and proud to do so.
I don’t tug the forelock, but look my neighbour in the eye.
I don’t accept or seek charity.
My name is Daniel Blake, I am a man, not a dog.
As such, I demand my rights. I demand you treat me with respect.
I, Daniel Blake, am a citizen, nothing more, nothing less. Thank you.”
Once again the Cameron’s are talking about their son, Ivan. This time it’s #SamCam.
While I am not trying to disrespect the memory of a dead child, I find it insulting for her to talk of ‘breaking point’ and respite when so many carers get no help at all.
When my own son was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder over 2 years ago we got nothing. We still get nothing. No respite. No carers assessment. I’ve been waiting since diagnosis for autism training and occupational therapy. I’ve fought for a certain awful teacher to recognise my son’s condition is unique, she tried to get him to conform to her way. Anyone who has autism or cares for an autistic person will know that’s not going to work. We’ve had zero support from the services the Cameron’s had.
My friend cares for her son too. The same month my son was diagnosed all her respite was cut. Granted she didn’t get much, an hour, but suddenly that was gone due to the cuts. She’s fighting, just like me, for every crumb.
Breaking point is 2 and a half years with no respite. It is a midnight meltdown that wakes up my 2 daughters. It’s the 30 minute struggle to get my son to get in the car for school. It’s the day the car broke down and I had to carry him to school (he’s 6). Breaking point is him still being awake at 2 am and you’re scared to sleep in case he hurts himself. It’s the ‘advisor’ at the job centre saying “he’ll grow out of it, why can’t you work while he’s at school? ” it’s spending 3 hours filling out the dla form while your dad was dying. Yeah, I did that. Wasted those precious hours because the form is ridiculously long and complicated. I used to care for my dad aswell. He died last year.
Breaking point is running out of clean clothes for your little boy because he soiled himself 5 times in one morning because his body doesn’t tell him when he needs to go. It’s dreading bath time because he hates it, it hurts him, he screams. It’s 2 hours sleep and a call from school because he’s having a meltdown and you have to collect him. It’s having to explain to another paediatrician because there has been a different one at every appointment and it took camhs 2 years to send them the diagnosis.
If there wasn’t an election round the corner, maybe if cuts hadn’t slashed the services we should get support from to the bone, then I might, possibly, be able to stomach the article. But there is an election round the corner and services are threadbare. Therefore I will call it out. This is emotional blackmail and that little boy should not be used in this way.
Next time you read a similar article think about us. The carers who toil for a measly pittance of £61.35 a week. With no help. Sleep deprivation and demonisation as our wages. Walk a mile in our shoes and then see who is ‘spiteful’.
Today Liam Byrne has once again managed to cause outrage with his plans for social security (that’s welfare to the rest of you). It’s not the first time he’s done this.
In June 2011 he was banging on about compulsory employment workshops for the unemployed who have pre school age children, but he’ll pay your child care costs. That went down like a lead balloon. Telling the unemployed they just need to try harder is insulting to the millions who already are.
Today he decided to pander to the Tories and the knee jerk reaction of certain newspapers and have another go at demonising the working class. Today Mr Byrne wants to limit unemployment benefit to just 2 years. We’ve heard that somewhere before haven’t we? Ahhh yes that other poor basher – Iain Duncan Smith. He likes the Wisconsin style of ‘welfare’. Its vicious, they cut you off completely, kids or no kids. They’ll leave you to starve and Liam Byrne’s all for that it seems.
Some of you reading this already know how I feel about politics. Its all rubbish, none of it is for our benefit. Its about a handful of rich people having power and control over the rest of us. But some of you like Labour, some of you hoped they gave a shit, that they’d actually have something to offer. Liam Byrne just stamped all over that.
I don’t avoid work. I’ve worked in some dirty, dusty, back breaking warehouses. Ones that were so cold the ink in my pen froze, I’ve worked till I couldn’t move, I’ve got my hands dirty and collapsed in a heap at the end of the day. I doubt any of the people who make the decisions in this country can say the same.
There is another problem with Byrnes little article. What happens to a victim of domestic abuse? They might have paid nothing into the system, what are they going to get? He wants to link contribution to social security and housing. So the person who’s looking for safety, are they excluded from housing because being in fear of your life isn’t a contribution is it? You see, there’s never any detail is there? They just write a few vague ideas down and expect the ignorant plebs to cheer. Leaving anyone without shelter is inhumane in my opinion. Its a basic right.
I want a social security system that looks after people for as long as they need it. I want people to be valued, not just on their earning capacity. I want people like Byrne and IDS to be irrelevant. There was a time when being a parent was considered worthy of respect, now we’re shipped out as soon as possible. Then we’re labelled bad parents when our children have no one at home because we’re working. The disabled, what happens to them? The unemployed? Are we to leave them to starve on the streets?
We already know Labour are in favour of sanctions. Destitution is a fit and proper punishment for not doing as you’re told apparently.
Have Labour said they’ll reverse the changes to council tax benefit? Will they abolish the bedroom tax? Are they going to get rid of Atos and allow qualified doctors to decide if someone’s ill/disabled?
Is there really a difference between the parties because I don’t see one, do you?
Last weekend a survey from the Tory party was sent to my parents house. I notice one wasn’t sent to me in my lowly little terrace, just to their respectable 3 bed semi on the outskirts of town. How strange. Anyway, my dad insisted I fill it out for them, he’s not well enough to do it himself and mum doesnt really do all that politics stuff. How could I refuse? I have scanned the result for your viewing pleasure.
I think this gives us all an insight into what the Tory party think and want (if any of you were ever in any doubt), and its very telling that the people most likely to be on benefits have not been asked to participate in this survey. My parents are actually on benefits. My dad’s disabled.
Unless you’ve found yourself in a refuge, temporary accommodation or a homeless hostel you might not realise how much it costs to be there. When I was homeless due to domestic abuse, after the maximum housing benefit award (pre LHA days) I had to pay an additional £7.70 a week (the first time) and £8.80 a week (the second time). That was for one room, one bed for myself and my daughter. A shared toilet, bathroom and kitchen. So I applaud Mr Void for highlighting the issue.
When I’d finished reading the post I scrolled down to the comments. They are what have prompted me to write this post.
As a survivor of domestic abuse I support all services that are available for victims, and there are many, both nationally and locally, all around the UK (google your local service). They include specialist support for men, women, the LGBT community and different ethnicities. The support is not solely for women, although that appeas to be the widely held view.
It is true that the support solely for men and LGBT is not as vast as Womens Aid/Refuge’s network, but it does exist. I was in a refuge where a father was staying with his daughter. They were fleeing domestic abuse. Our local council sees no difference between male or female victims.
It saddens me greatly that some people jump up and down when Womens Aid are mentioned, because they are an organisation for women. I don’t jump up and down because ManKind is a service for men. I’m glay they both exist. I hope that one day the provision for male, female and LGBT victims are all equally vast.
I’d also like to point out that it was Womens Aid who helped me encourage a male friend to seek legal advice about an ex girlfriend. He got an injunction and she stopped abusing him and his children.
Below is a list of contact for ALL victims of domestic abuse.
National helpline: 01823 334244
Mens Advice Line (run by Respect)
0808 801 0327
01209 202688 (office)
07825 220 232 (mobile)
Broken rainbow UK
0300 999 5428
London Lesbian And Gay Switchboard
0300 330 0630
LGBT Cymru Helpline
0808 840 2069
0808 2000 247
0808 2000 247
If you are in immediate danger.
Please do not hesitate to dial 999!
This is my first post for quite some time. Why the absence you may ask? Well life’s been very hectic since January for various reasons. I’m currently caring for 2 family members, 1 officially, 1 unofficially as they haven’t yet been diagnosed. I’ve still got 3 kids who are very demanding, 1 of which is being assessed for autism. I also don’t have an internet connection at home anymore, I couldn’t afford it so until I pay my ISP the money I owe I have to use my phone for all online activities (which is hard going for blog posts).
There is some better news, I got married in August, to the father of my two youngest children 🙂 So I’m now Mrs Darkestangel lol
I’ve been following the news when I can, keeping updated on the welfare reforms and the cuts in general, as well as locally.
While I’m able I’ll attempt to post but it might be a bit hit and miss. I still have to post that reply from my MP about welfare reform.
Well, the kids are calling, its time to put them to bed. I’ll be back soon…
Before I begin I’d like some of you to take the time to visit www.hiddenhurt.co.uk
Those of you who do not understand what domestic violence is, those who have no first hand experience of it and those who hold onto the myths that have surrounded it for so long. When you have finished please come back and read this blog.
Some of you will already know that I’m a survivor of domestic violence along with my daughter. We have been free of violence for 11 years. We have been free from abuse for less than that, and free from fear for 3 years.
I’ve written about the cuts to domestic violence services more than once since I started this blog. It was clear at the end of 2010 that the services victims and survivors rely on to escape abuse and to stay safe were under threat. Having personally used these vital services more than once it filled me with dread. Not because I think I will need them again (although I have no crystal ball, it could happen), but because I know how it feels to be sat in a police station with my child literally begging for help, begging for a safe place to sleep for the night. I have personally faced the prospect of not having anywhere for us to sleep unless we went back to our abuser. We have been lucky, last time a police officer spoke to the council and pleaded our case until they found us a room in a local hostel. It was very last minute. I was told by the hostel warden that the lady who should have had our room had simply not arrived and that’s why we were given it. That hostel room was the safest place in the world for us. No one could get in. My daughter wasn’t scared and I slept for the first time in so long because I knew nothing could happen to us. It was just one room with one bed but it was our security and we will always be grateful for it.
Thousands of women up and down the country are not so lucky and it’s getting worse. The single most important factor when I fled domestic violence was having somewhere safe to go, without it I would have gone back. Those of us fortunate to still have contact with friends or family may be able to stay with them but often we have been isolated over a number of years and have no one left or feel too ashamed to approach the people who love us. Many of us are unaware of womens aid or refuge until we actually need them, until our lives depend on it. Womens Aid helped me enormously last time I fled. They assured me that I didn’t need a visible injury When I asked for help to be classed as a victim because abuse comes in many forms. Warwickshire Domestic Violence Support Services helped me with extra home security when I finally got my own place. It was free and it helped me feel safer as a woman living on her own with a small child. All of these things are under threat.
Professor Sylvia Walby, UNESCO Chair in Gender Research, and Jude Towers at Lancaster University, wrote a report on the impact of cuts on violence against women services. A summary is below:
• 31% of the funding to the domestic violence and sexual abuse sector from local authorities was cut between 2010/11 to 2011/12, a reduction from £7.8 million to £5.4 million.
• Among those with local authority funding of less than £20,000 the average cut was 70% as compared with 29% for those receiving over £100,000, between 2010/11 and 2011/12.
• 230 women, just under 9% of those seeking refuge, were turned away by Women’s Aid on a typical day in 2011 due to lack of space.
• The number of Independent Domestic Violence Advisers (IDVA) has been reduced: in 2011 among 8 major IDVA service providers supporting 13,180 clients, 2 faced funding cuts of 100%, 3 cuts of 50%, 3 of 40% and 2 of 25%
• IMKAAN, who run services for women from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic groups, report the closing of two of their six specialist refuges and cuts to local authority funding for two more.
• RESPECT services working to reform male perpetrators of domestic violence suffered budget cuts so that between 2010 and 2011 78% of services reduced the number of clients they were able to assist.
• Statutory provision, including those police and court services that involve specialised expertise, has also been reduced following funding cuts. This includes cuts in the operating levels of Domestic Abuse Officers, a unit on female genital mutilation and domestic violence courts.
So we see that as a result of reduced funding victims are being turned away due to lack of space, services are closing, perpetrator programmes are facing cuts and the specialist courts and police officers are being cut too. It’s also worth remembering that there are thousands of male victims of domestic violence aswell. Statistics are hard to find but it has been estimated that roughly 1 in 5 men experience domestic violence at the hand of a female partner. Domestic violence does not discriminate, it cares not if you are rich or poor, male or female, gay or straight. and it is often deadly. No one deserves it.
You may not personally know someone who has been killed, I don’t, but I do remember a lady who lived near to me who was murdered by her abusive partner. Her name was Sharon Franklin. and she’s 1 of millions. Domestic violence kills two women every single week in England and Wales. It devastates the lives of its victims, it destroys children’s futures. I know, my daughter’s spent 11 long years having nightmares, bed wetting, lack of confidence and self esteem and she was the only child in her nursery and school to spend the entire day scared stiff something would happen to mummy while she was gone. It has taken 11 years of hard work and sheer determination to help her become who she is today. Without domestic violence specialist services we wouldn’t have known how to cope, we would have felt alone and worst of all, I wouldn’t have stayed safe. We wouldn’t be here.
Patrick Stewart was a child that grew up in a home blighted by domestic violence when there were no such services as Womens Aid and Refuge. He has spoken out against these savage cuts in the Guardian, it’s about time others followed suit. Being a survivor does not mean I have forgotten the horror, on the contrary, it is with me every day. My story is mild when you compare it to those of Sharon Franklin, Cassandra Hasanovic, my friend Rose, and the thousands of ladies and gentlemen I have had the pleasure of knowing over the years who have suffered even worse abuse than I have. Most of them have been fortunate to have been helped by various charities and specialist services. My friend Rose works in the sector now, my friend Kathy has been helping at her local refuge for over a decade and another lady is studying to be a child psychologist to help children affected by domestic violence. Without the help we all received we wouldn’t be where we are, some of us just wouldn’t be here.
Theresa May said that the government wants to “end violence against women and girls”. They have a very strange way of achieving that aim. Decimating the vital services victims and survivors need to escape, stay safe and rebuild their lives is not only contradictory but it’s extremely dangerous. Remember:
Domestic violence kills two women every single week in England and Wales
That figure is already two women too high. It will rise if these cuts aren’t reversed.
Don’t just sit there, let your voice be heard, speak out. The days of ‘behind closed doors’ are long gone.
Blog it, write to your MP, shout it from the rooftops, join the fight. This has got to stop. One day it could be you looking for somewhere to turn, a safe place to sleep, a future free from fear.
Dear Mr Jones,
I received your letter today regarding the Welfare Reform Bill that is currently being passed between the House of Lords and the House of Commons.
Your response failed to explained anything I haven’t already read on the DWP website or from listening to interviews from Iain Duncan Smith. You failed to address the majority of the points I raised in my previous letter and as a result I am extremely disappointed.
In case you have forgotten what my original concerns were I shall list them below.
- Monthly payments of ALL benefits
- CSA charges at the point of access and charges on every single payment thereafter
- Abolition of the social fund and non ring fenced funding given to local authorities
- The Benefit Cap which will cause hardship for those in and out of work on benefits
- Changes to the way council tax benefit is paid
- Disabled children not being allowed to build up NI contributions to entitle them to an independent income in adulthood
- Halving the tax credit payments to parents of disabled children who only qualify for the lower rate of DLA
- In-work conditionality
- Lack of clarity regarding help with child care
- Unpaid work experience and The Work Programme in general
- The rhetoric being used that has resulted in increased disability hate crime, suicides and personally, I have regular nightmares that myself and my children are going to find ourselves homeless.
I would appreciate it if you would answer my concerns with some detailed explanation which I haven’t already heard from Iain Duncan Smith or the DWP website.
I wonder how long it will take for him to reply to me this time……
Mr Jones is replying to an email I sent him before the big commons vote on the Lords amendments. I think every other MP in the country manages to reply to me before today.
The email contained all the points in this letter to IDS
17th February 2012
Dear Ms Hardy
RE: Welfare Reform Bill
Thank you for contacting mw about the Welfare Reform Bill
I realise that you may be concerned by some elements of this legislation, but I am assured that the Government remains committed to supporting the vulnerable and providing support for all those who need it. However, the Government has also been clear that it does not believe welfare should be a lifestyle choice and there is clear expectation that if people can work, then they should work, even if it is only for a few hours a week.
The one year limit on the length of time people can receive contribution-based Employment & Support Allowance (ESA) is an important measure designed to ensure that people make the journey back towards work. It strikes the right balance between restricting access to contributory benefits and allowing those with longer-term illnesses to adjust to their health condition and surrounding circumstances, and it is double the length of time allowed for contribution based JobSeeker’s Allowance (JSA) in recognition of that fact. Furthermore, the one year time limit is not an arbitrary figure; it is in line with similar limits to other countries around the world including France, Spain and Ireland. It should also be noted that it is only the contributory element of ESA that will be time-limited, not income-related ESA.
In addition to this, the plan to introduce a new Personal Independence Payment (PIP) will continue to offer disabled people a non-means-tested cash benefit that people can spend as they choose. It will remain a benefit that is paid to people whether they are in or out of work with the main aim being to support those facing the greatest challenges to living an independent life.
One of the key problems with DLA is that the vast majority of people receive a lifetime award of this benefit and there is no follow up assessment. This has led to the situation where £630m has been overpaid, meanwhile some claimants whose conditions have deteriorated, have not received the full amount that they are entitled to.
The PIP will require people to undergo a face-to-face assessment but, this will ensure that people receive a far more personalised service. Moreover, people will not be required to undergo an annual assessment but will instead be re-assessed after an appropriate time period, based on the nature of their condition. I am informed that the Government also continues to engage with disability organisations over the assessment criteria for PIP to ensure that the assessment process is fair.
Should you have any further queries or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact me again.
Marcus Jones MP
Yes Mr Jones, I do have queries and concerns. Number 1 being that you ignored the majority of my letter and chose the parts you were so obviously briefed on. Number 2, when are you going to learn to think for yourself and stop repeating the party line? Number 3, how on earth am I going to work ‘for a few hours’ with no childcare and the threat of in-work conditionality and sanctions hanging over my head if I don’t earn enough to satisfy your good buddy IDS’ idea of ‘making work pay’. Honestly, get a grip!!
Chris Grayling has hit out at those who oppose his workfare *cough* work experience schemes as being ‘job snobs’ in The Telegraph. The biggest problem with the entire article is that Grayling has told several whoppers.
He claims that under the last government claimants would have had their JSA stopped for taking part in work experience. While he is technically correct, if a work experience placement was arranged through the jobcentre then they kept all of their benefits. As far as I am aware Grayling’s schemes are arranged via the Jobcentre/work programme, so claimants would have kept their JSA anyway.
It is also claimed that the current placements are voluntary. They’re not. The word ‘mandatory’ means you have to do it, and don’t forget that if you do not complete your placement, don’t turn up, refuse, or fail to perform adequately you can be sanctioned, that means you lose your benefits for a period of time. The government are currently attempting to increase the maximum sanction period to three years. If you change your mind and return to your placement your sanction still stands, so if you have been sanctioned for 3 months you would be working for absolutely nothing, not even your JSA.
“Short term work experience placements lasting a few weeks are of immense value to young people looking to get a foothold on the job ladder,”
The problem is, it’s not short term anymore. The previous government had work trials, which meant you could work in a real job for 2 weeks and decide if you wanted the job at the end of the trial. That’s short term and it has a goal in sight, a job with real wages!
Yes, Labour introduced New Deal (later renamed Flexible New Deal) and I know a few people who went to this scheme. The main difference I can see is that New Deal comprised of 6 different programmes. Grayling’s scheme is in essence one programme. The needs of different groups are not the same. In 3 years if I’m not working I could be put onto the same programme as someone with no children, half my age, or someone with disabilities. We clearly all have different needs and need different help accessing the labour market. How is packing me off to a big supermarket for 30 hours a week going to help me arrange childcare, travel (the actual art of getting there. Reimbursing me is no good if I can’t get there in the first place!) and then matching my actual skills or ambitions to the ‘work experience’ I’m ordered to do for fear of losing my only source of income?
I’m not a ‘job snob’, I’ve worked full time in noisy, sometimes dirty warehouses doing back breaking manual labour for the minimum wage and I actually quite enjoyed it. I have also walked out of premises and never returned when an employer has failed to pay me for my hard work. I was once working unpaid for 2 weeks. I walked out on day 14 because the tax credits alone didn’t pay the rent. I should have been earning almost £200 a week, instead myself and my daughter were living off tax credits and child benefit. I went back to my old job and survived on minimum wage because it’s better than nothing. That small wage was reward for my hard work. Wanting a wage for hard work does not make anyone a snob, some rich, middle aged Tory who has never worked an 8 hour shift in a dusty, cold warehouse, hurting himself to finish his quota for the day, being completely exhausted when he finally collapsed in the chair at home is a snob for expecting another human being to work for the measly sum of £53.45 for under 25’s, £67.50 for over 25’s and £105.95 for couples a week. Would you work full time for that? Mr Grayling says that if you don’t, you’re the snob, as he swans around in his ministerial car with his expensive clothes, full fridge & freezer and his heating on full. Not to mention his large salary and expenses.
Grayling also seems to be under the impression that it’s just the BBC and Guardian that oppose workfare. Maybe he should go and take a peek at the Superdrug facebook page, the Tesco facebook page, the Argos facebook page and open those comments up on the ASDA Facebook page. He could even sign onto Twitter and see a magnitude of opposition to workfare. Maybe he’d prefer to have a gander at a simple job search that brings up pages of advertisements asking for Jobseekers, mostly 18-24yrs old, to come and work for their benefits. Don’t try to tell me they’re all IT errors, they’re clearly not.
I would also like to bring to your attention the governments intention to push all disabled claimants of ESA who are rightly or wrongly put into the WRAG (Work-Related Activity Group) into workfare on an unlimited time scale. There will be no fixed period for these placements, they could last 1 week or 1 year, the government want to keep them open ended. If people don’t comply they will be sanctioned.
Mr Grayling is a liar, and not a very good one either. If anyone is a hypocrite it’s him. My dad always says ‘don’t ask someone to do anything you’re not prepared to do yourself’. Chris ‘Pinocchio’ Grayling might do better in the future if he bears that in mind. I’m not holding my breath though.
If you’re lucky enough to be employed then the entire workfare scheme is putting your job at risk. Why would an employer want to pay you for something the government can force someone else to do for free? The employer does not pay the JSA, the government do. Keep your job and help to create new ones, real ones for people who desperately want them. Oppose workfare!