The news has been filled with reports today about people who receive PIP are having to rely on food banks more and more often, while issues with them receiving their payments are resolved. I find it utterly sickening that in this day and age, families in the UK are being let down by the system.
Personally, I am grateful that we don’t need to rely completely on the government for support. My older sister isn’t so lucky…. She is 37 now, and has a wide range of physical, medical and behavioural difficulties. Since she was 18, my sister has lived in the community with around the clock support. (Under the Labour Government, she used to get 12 hours a day 1-1 support and 12 hours per evening of 1-2 support, shared with her housemate). My sister has volunteered in the community for the past 10 years and been a spokesperson for people with learning disabilities.
Her funding has been cut so much that now, instead of 24 hour support, she is only entitled to 4 hours a day of 1-1 care. This has to be used at the times she is highest risk of hurting herself – 8-9am when she is getting up, showered and dressed, 9-10am when she is taking her medication and having her breakfast, 6-7pm when making her evening meal and then 7-8pm when getting undressed and taking her evening medication. This leaves her no time whatsoever to go out and about with 1-1 support. No time to do her food shopping, no time for help with banking or clothes shopping, no time to do stuff which mean she is living and not just alive. She hasn’t had a holiday since 2015 (which was 2 nights in Llandudno) as there just isn’t any money for her to go. This is the life our vulnerable citizens are living now. This is what all of the cutbacks are doing to people. My sister doesn’t have a life any more – she has an existence.
My sister is one of the lucky ones. She has people fighting her corner. She has family behind her who won’t stop fighting to get her the support she needs. If you need information on what help is available if you have a disabled family member, this Talk-Tax article is well worth a read.
2 years ago, my sister fell over and the staff ratio in her home meant they couldn’t take her to A&E, so she was left for 2 days, until the manager was back on duty and insisted she be taken. Long story short, her foot, ankle and leg were all broken – probably a result of her having walked on fractures all weekend. She had to have surgery to insert screws and a plate, it took 8 months for her to heal, and she was forced to move from the home she had been happy in for 4 years to a new home as she couldn’t manage the 2 steps between her bedroom and the front door in her existing home. Of course we (her family) reported this to social services and she was given an extra 2 hours of 1-1 support per day until her leg was out of plaster – lucky her!
For now, she has food in her belly and a roof over her head, but she’s not living…. not really.
With all of the funding cuts being handed out left, right and centre, it’s no wonder people are having to rely more on food banks and clothing donations. I feel physically sick at the thought of children going to school with empty bellies, or their parents skipping meals to make sure the rent is paid. This is why I say enough is enough. The sad fact is though, I can’t see things changing for the better any time soon.