• Michelle Partington

Benefits is not a dirty word!

For the last couple of weeks I’ve become very accustomed to Wigan hospital as my nan was sadly admitted 2 weeks. When I take my grandad in to see her I drop him as close to nans bed as possible and leave them to have some ‘alone’ time while I go and sit in the cafe. So a couple of days ago I was sat in the hospital cafe and overheard a woman saying “….don’t want to rent it out as we may get those housing benefit type people who will wreck the place”. Oh my word I was fuming!!!! What angered me more was that she was a teacher. What sort of example is she going to be setting to the young ones!!

So the list of benefits people claim for are as follows:

Attendance Allowance Bereavement Benefit Carer’s Allowance Disability Living Allowance Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) Incapacity Benefit Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA) Maternity Allowance Pension Credit State Pension Widow’s Benefit Housing Benefit Child Support Agency 

People claim these benefits for a reason. Without these benefits people would not be able to live. Yes, there are a minority of people who claim benefits by defrauding the system but there will always be the few. It’s unfair to place everyone who claims benefits in the same box. Most people are in dire need of the benefits afforded them, receive it and still struggle to make ends meet. I know so many who would rather be out working but sadly in some cases they would be much worse off. It’s a vicious circle.

I have watched a number of the benefits programmes which to be fair, havent portrayed people on benefits in a good light. However, I stress again, this is in the minority. Some of my family and friends claim benefits and none of those are bucking the system, nor do they wreck the houses they rent. Most people I have met are the kindest, most loyal people I have met. They look out for each other all the time which I find awesome.

One of the benefit shows featured a single mum with 2 children, one of which was very severely disabled, requiring 24hr care. She took care of both her sons without support from the care system. All her neighbours rallied around to bring alive a dream the lovely lad had before becoming ill. They made it a special day for the whole family. Shortly afterwards her disabled son died. Quite rightly her carers benefit ceased but what wasn’t right was that the government almost instantly charged her bedroom tax for the bedroom her son used to live in. She couldn’t afford to live there due to the severe cut of money and was forced to move out of a home she had lived in for 25 years! That is just one tragic story of thousands in similar situations.

Other tragic stories which I guess is much closer to home include people with mental health illnesses who struggle to leave home, or are attending medical appointments are being sanctioned because they haven’t been able to attend their review appointments. They have cut their money without even checking to see why they were unable to attend. This increase impacts hugely on their wellbeing causing them to further struggle.

So I say to the lady in the cafe, and many more who judge people who ‘don’t get off their backsides’, actually, step out of your pretty little bubble and see what’s going on in the outside world. Not everybody has it easy and one day you to may need a helping hand yourself.


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