Back in June, I was released by my employer as an administrator for the NHS on medical grounds, because I had been off work for over a year. The contract termination was handled with compassion and fairness, and I remain on really good terms with my old co-workers and have regular catch-ups and coffee.
The next step was to sign on for unemployment. Now when I signed on for social security payments, the staff made me feel like something they’d scraped off the bottom of there shoes, they made me feel worthless, that it was all my fault I couldn’t work. There was absolutely no offer of help, nothing about what they would do to help me, all I got was a contract I had to sign to get money, what it also says, is you must do everything they say when they say, or you will be sanctioned, which means your money will be stopped, 3 sanctions and they stop your money for 3 years. Even though I am unable to work due to complex medical conditions, I am still made to grovel for help.
Now I had been signed off work by my doctor indefinitely, but the jobcentre tell me I will have to attend a work capability assessment, the reason for this assessment is because they don’t believe me,and they don’t believe what 7 medical specialists have said and diagnosed over the last 7 years, plus reports from several General practitioners. The stress they put me under is inhuman, they made me feel worthless, a liar and a cheat.
Well it’s now 5 months since I signed on, and Monday I finally had to attend my Work capability assessment. It’s just over an hours drive to get there, though any travelling over 30 mins these days is difficult and extremely painful. Luckily I had a lot of help to get me there from good friends Karen and Sue, so I wouldn’t have to drive.
When we arrived at the centre we found that the only disabled parking bay was about 25 yds from the main entrance of the jobcentre, and was on a slight slope, not helpful when your disabled, and because your there for a work capability assessment your can’t use it, instead you have to make your way down and around the outside of the building, then you have to go down a driveway that has to be another 75 yds to the assessment centre entrance, only, the top of the driveway is coned off so you can’t be driven and dropped off.
Anyway we arrived on time, in fact we were 15 mins early, unfortunately we had to wait around for an hour past my appointment time. The receptionist did apologise and said it won’t be much longer as your assessor is just reading your notes. Now I’m sure that some of you will be saying , oh well shit happens an hours not too long to wait, so let me put it from my side, in the contract I had to sign, it states that if I am late for or miss my appointment I will be sanctioned and lose my benefits, then the week before the appointment I received several texts reminding me to attend, and reminding me that my benefits will be affected if I don’t attend, then to top it all off I got a phone call to remind me about attending. So by Friday night my stress levels were through the roof.
They already have the information which they will question me on, because they sent me a 20 page questionnaire to fill out before I attended, I also had to take along proof of the medications I take, MRI Scan pictures of the damaged area of my spine and the spinal cord inflammatory scar. In fact proof of just about everything. About half way through the questioning the doctor tells me she hasn’t read my notes and she doesn’t really know much about Osteoperosis. I was told the doctor had read my notes and they would have a good understanding of my conditions, what a joke. Once the ordeal was over, Karen asked them if we could leave through the jobcentre entrance as I was struggling, so it only took us less than a minute to get outside to the car park. So why make people take the long way, why make it harder. It makes you think.
Now I just have to wait, to see if they think I am fit for work, or not, by there standards not medical ones, and I have no idea when I will find out.
I have to say that they way this Tory government, the DWP, Jobcentre +, ATOS, & MAXIMUS, treat the sick, the disabled, the homeless and the poor is disgusting and inhumane. Why are we demonised? Why are we penalised? Why can this not be carried out with compassion and fairness?
I still feel I am one of the lucky ones though, simply because I have an amazing support group of family and friends around me, but for those who don’t have that, and end up homeless, or end up taking there own lives as so many 1000″s already have. It really makes me very angry, and it absolutely breaks my heart, nobody in the 21st century in the UK should be treated this badly . We are the Worlds 5th richest country.
Thank you Karen for accompanying me, and supporting me during the assessment, and thank you Sue, for driving me to Brighton General for the first leg of my journey.
Take care all,