Category Archives: Changes

Happy Anniversary To Me . . . and Postal Votes!

I had a notice from WordPress today and, apparently, it’s been 4 years today, since I started Blogging on here.

It actually amazes me that I’m still doing it 4 years on, especially when I think of all the times when I just wasn’t well enough to come on here and whitter away, as is my habit!

The irony that today is the anniversary hit me when I saw it as, apart from checking my emails, I’ve been avoiding any kind of media today that I can, as I can’t bear the suspense with all the general election furore going on. Not because I don’t care, but because I care too much, and the results mean far too much to me, and many thousands of other disabled people.

Talking of which, I spoke to my daughter on the phone earlier on. She lives in Bristol, and we live in west Wales, and so we spend a lot of time either on the phone, or chatting through Facebook, especially when she works abroad.

Anyway, she was telling me of the hoopla she had to go through today, in order to vote – and that she was very nearly tempted not to do so, but for her strong sense of fair play, and even stronger stubborness of character – which she insists she inherited from me – as if!

My daughter works all over the place as a fire performer, and she also helps to manage and direct other stage performances, with other performers, too, and so she travels a huge amount, all over the UK, and the EU, with the occasional trip to the USA and, as she wasn’t sure where she’d be at the time of voting, she had applied for a postal vote. She was accepted for this, but her voting pack hadn’t turned up by the time she had to go off to another festival, and so she assumed this meant that she wouldn”t be able to vote that way.

As as it happened, she ended up back in Bristol a couple of days ago and so, after catching up on everything, and everyone, she needed to, she decided to stroll down to her local voting station, with plenty of ID to prove who she was, to ask if she could do her vote that way.

She arrived, and spoke to one of the helpers, who checked her ID, then checked for her name on the list, and was told she couldn’t vote, because she had a postal vote. My daughter explained that she hadn’t received it in the time needed before she had left for her work at a festival, and that it still hadn’t been there when she checked her post on returning home. She also had to explain that she hadn’t been informed by anyone that this precluded her from voting in person. The lady asked her to wait while she found out what my daughter needed to do to be able to vote.

A few minutes later, she was told that, in order to do be able to vote today, she would have to travel right across Bristol, opposite to her present location, and go to a particular building, and register to vote with them. As it happens, my daughter had a friend with her, who had a car, and her friend offered to take her to the place – an hour and a half away by foot, 30-40 minutes by public transport, or 20-30 minutes by taxi – always supposing she had the money spare for a taxi, of course.

They managed to find the building, and my daughter went to the office she was supposed to, then explained the situation to the people working there, who were puzzled that she was sent there in the first place, as it was the wrong building, and also puzzled that nobody had rung them up to check with them, before my daughter started out to them. They then told my daughter where she should actually have been sent – and it was, once again, right across the other side of Bristol!

My daughter’s friend offered to take her there, too as, by now, even she was angry at the runaround my daughter was being given, and was determined she’d be able to have her vote, and so they set off again, and eventually got to the proper place where, once again, my daughter had to explain why she was there.

Fortunately for everyone, this was the correct place at last, but my daughter then had to fill in all the same forms she had filled in when she first applied for a postal vote then, once they were signed, she was handed a printed-out postal voter’s form, which they then asked her to fill in, fold, and put into the sealed envelope, and then to place in the ballot box.

All-in-all, what had started out as her idea to take a leisurely walk down to her local polling station to vote, actually took her over 3 hours, a lot of petrol and miles, and a couple of arguements – in fact, the final lady to speak to her, thanked her for persevering in the face of everything being put in her way to trying to vote!

If my daughter wasn’t the determined woman she is, she might have given up in the face of all these obstacles in her way and, as we chatted on the phone, and I congratulated her for her perseverance, she was sat in a cafe, having something desperately needed to eat and drink, as she’d had nothing since her morning toast, and we both wondered how many more people were put off voting today,  by the same kinds of things happening to them?

To be fair, it probably was just a concatination of events, totally out of everyone’s control but, with so many postal votes not turning up where they should be in this election, we did have to wonder whether my daugher’s postal vote was one of these, or not?

Neither of us knows who it is, in charge of the postal voting system, nor how partisan they may be with one party or another but, for people like me, who are disabled and unable to leave the house to vote, or people like my daughter, who work all over the place, and can’t guarantee getting to their local polling stations, that postal vote is a necessary thing for us to be able to express our decision on who we want to represent us in Government, so to have it being abused, or even just not being correctly used, is an attack on our very democracy!

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Filed under Anniversaries, Changes, Choices, Daughters, Democracy, Disability Issues, Family, Ideology, Politics, Postal Voting, Proportional Representation, Self-interest, Travelling

Jeremy Corbyn on Everything . . .

I’ve not often sat to listen to political videos, but came across one on a post by  Beastrabban.

It’s an interview between Owen Jones and Jeremy Corbyn, and lasts around 45 minutes but, if you really want to know the thoughts and ideas of Jeremy Corbyn, then you should listen to it, and see what a difference he could make to us all.

Here’s the link to the interview through Owen Jone’s Youtube account, if you want to watch it directly:

Owen Jones Interviews Jeremy Corbyn

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Filed under Benefits, Budgets, Carers, Changes, Disability Issues, Economy, Government Spending, House Prices, Housing Benefits, Human Rights, Media, Politics, Private Sector, Proportional Representation, Welfare

I, Daniel Blake . . .

Last night I was unable to sleep, because the pain in my body has become unbearable recently, and so I decided to watch a new DVD delivered to me yesterday, in order to get my mind off of the pain for a little while. The DVD is: ‘I, Daniel Blake’.

. . . and now I sit here, many hours later, with red eyes, and cheeks sore from the tears I shed watching it, while trying to put into words what I need to express after seeing it.

I wonder how anyone who has an iota of fellow feeling in them, can watch something like this, and not feel sad, or frustrated, and also totally furious, at our government – and the people they employ – who follow every machiavellian rule they can make up, without thinking of the consequences to the real people they are doing it all to, and I wonder, who can put people through all these kinds of hoops, purely for an ideology that seems to drive them into schemes that are making the poor even poorer – as the rich  get ever richer?

Ken Loach’s film has shown so clearly what is happening every single day here in the UK, and it is happening to too many people innocent of the accusations being thrown at them by their own government, as well as by their many right-wing media outlets.

. . . . and I’m one of those people. I, too, am Daniel Blake and, because of the injustices I saw in the film – while knowing they were just characters playing their parts, I also know they were based on real people going through the same, crazy, soul-destroying, routines – I want to tell you what is happening with me at the moment.

I’ve been worried for a couple of years now, about the changeover this government is making, from DLA to PIP, as I’d heard that so many people on Indefinite awards of DLA, like I am, have lost their benefits completely – including people with terminal cancer, or MS, or Parkinsons!

I have, unfortunately, developed many health problems over my life, which had basically starting from a messed up immune system, brought about by the Thalidomide tablets that my Mum took while she was around 6 months pregnant with me, as it was thought the tablet would ease the terrible morning sickness she continuously felt throughout this pregnancy. The tablets actually made Mum worse, so she didn’t take them as long as she might have but, unfortunately, she took them long enough that they affected the development of my immune system and so, although I was so very fortunate to have been born with all  of my limbs, I have been prone to bouts of ill health for most of my life, and this gradually worsened, to the point that, right now, everything wrong with me is based on a screwed-up immune system, and everything I suffer with is without a cure, and will only get worse, to the point of death – hence the Indefinite award.

I’m basically 100% housebound, and 95% bedbound, and was eventually sent the changeover form from the DWP, which arrived on 23rd December 2016, asking me to fill it in, and to send it back by 16th January, 2017, at the latest. With what I’ve recently learned about the processes put into place with the new PIP, I’ve no hope that I will get the equivalent of my DLA award with this new PIP award, and will be amazed if I’m fortunate enough to get anything at all.

Due to my illnesses, I have great trouble focusing on anything nowadays, let alone long, and very complicated, forms such as this one was. I sleep more than I’m awake, and the strong pain meds I have to take (or end up screaming with pain), leave me unable to formulate thoughts and ideas in the way that I used to be able to do, before my illnesses got as bad as they are now. I struggle a lot to find the words I need, as my short-term memory is badly affected, too, which makes it very difficult for me to be able to express how I feel, or how my ailments affect me, especially if I’m under any kind of stress – me, the calm, unflappable, total wordsmith, who used to read continuously, and delighted in learning something new every day – until my illnesses took all that away 😦

The day after I received the PIP form, the 24th December, 2016, I received news that my Mum was seriously ill in hospital, and wasn’t expected to live.

As you may imagine, this knocked me for six, especially as I’d only lost my Dad the previous year, and had been too ill to be able to travel the 365 miles between us, to go and pay my last respects to him. Anyway, from the moment I was told about Mum, I spent all the time I was able to, keeping in touch with my siblings, and trying to find out how Mum was – while desperately hoping, and praying, that she would rally – as she had done on previous occasions – but, on 1st January, 2017, Mum slipped away in her sleep and, once again, I faced the fact that I wasn’t well enough to be able to travel to say my goodbyes.

In those 10 days, I’d not been well enough to be able to try and even start to fill in the DLA-PIP form. The stress and grief I felt had seriously affected my already appalling health, and I was unable to think, or to understand, anything written in the form. I’d not been able to get hold of anyone at the DWP to explain my situation to, because I’d received the form the day before christmas eve, and so everyone was now on holiday, and there was nobody available locally to help me with the forms.

On 4th January, I finally managed to get somebody at the DWP, and explained my situation, and was given an extention of 14 days, until 30th January, to give me extra time to get the forms filled in.

A few days later, fortunately for me, our daughter came to visit and, over the next few weeks, she helped me with both my grief at losing Mum and, more importantly for my health, she helped me to fill in the forms, which wasn’t easy even with her help, especially as every question asked on the form made me have to face up to everything I had lost of myself, and the life I used to lead, at a time when grief and loss of my Mum was making me so depressed I could barely cope.

I think that, if the questions I was asked had had any real meaning, it might have been a little easier for me to do, but they were so formulaic, so loaded, so unreal to the life I actually have to live, that I couldn’t relate to them at all, and it took four different people to explain to me what the questions were actually trying to lead me to say, before I realised that they weren’t being asked to help me in any way, but I really felt as if they had been written, even designed, to trip me up in some  way – as if I were living a lie, and claiming these benefits unlawfully because, of course, everyone who claims benefits of any sort are lying through their teeth, right? Wrong!

Anyway, with lots of help, the form was filled in, and I stated at the end, written in red, bold, type – in the section asking if there was anything I wanted to tell them, about coming to a face-to-face assessment – that I wished for a Home Assessment, and for this assessment to be recorded. A friend then posted it all off for me, recorded delivery, and I checked online a few days later, and saw that it had been received. I then waited a couple of days, and phoned them up just to check, and reassure myelf, that they had actually got it – they had.

After I sent off the form, I looked through the paperwork again, and saw that, if I wanted a Home Assessment, then I needed a letter from my doctor, to prove that I was ill enough to need this!

I was fortunate that my Doctor was willing to do this for me, as he knows my many limitations well and so, on 6th February, a friend posted his letter for me, which included a cover note of my own, to the DWP then, on the 13th February, I phoned to check that it had arrived. To my horror, they said that it hadn’t, but that I was to ring back in a few days, in case it was waiting to be scanned, then uploaded onto their computer system. I waited another  week then, on 22nd February,  I phoned the DWP, to be reassured that my doctor’s letter had appeared on their system on the 14th February, which was a huge relief for me.

On that same 22nd February, I had also received a letter from Capita (Capita do the assessments for the DWP in my area), dated 7th February.  The letter basically told me that they had received my form, and were now looking at my claim, and that someone would contact me about arranging an assessment for me. I didn’t do anything about it that day, as I was too unwell to cope with any more phone calls then, 2 days later, on 24th February, I had 2 more letters from Capita dropped in my letterbox. The first, dated 13th February, telling me that they had looked at my application for PIP, and that they had arranged an assessment in my nearest large town, 14 miles away, to be done on 2nd March. The 2nd letter, dated 21st February, and also arriving on 24th, was a reminder of the appointment.

I phoned Capita straight away, and explained to the lady who answered that I had just that day received the two letters, and asked her why they had made an appointment away from my home, after I’d already requested a home visit. I explained about the doctor’s letter taking time to be shown on the DWP’s computer, then asked, once again, for a Home Assessment. The lady said straight away, ‘Well, I can cancel this appointment, but you do realise that you are only allowed one cancelation, don’t you?’ I pointed out that I had only just that day received both the letters they had sent me, so hadn’t even known an appointment had already been made – and that I had clearly requested a Home Assessment on my form – but the lady was adamant that this would be the only cancellation I would be allowed, so I had to accept this, and go to the appointment already made for me, or risk having my money stopped immediately I didn’t turn up.

As I had no choice, I had to cancel the appointment, and the lady assured me I would hear from someone within 2-3 days, letting me know when the new appointment would be. While she was on the phone, I made sure to ask her if recording the home assessment was permitted and, after she had gone away to check, she told me it was, but that they would only allow cassette tapes to be used, and that I would have to tape 2 identical copies at the same time, one for me, and one for the assessor. I would be allowed to use ordinary cassette tapes, or even the micro tapes used for dictaphones, but I was not allowed to use any kind of digital recording.

Fortunately, I’d seen this written on a website, so had already bought 2 identical recorders, and the tapes to go with them, so am prepared for that, at least.

I hadn’t heard from Capita by Thursday, 2nd March, so I phoned them to see what was happening. Nothing was happening!

Once again I had to tell the person I spoke to what had already been discussed and, fortunately, he then wrote in my notes that I wished for a Home Assessment – he then promised I’d be hearing, by letter, to let me know the date of the assessment . . .

I’ll be letting you know what happens next . . . .

________________________________________

12-03-17. 3.41 am.

Thought I’d let you know that my home assessment is due on 21st March, at 11.45 am. I just hope that I’m actually awake, and my brain is in working mode when the assessor gets here! 😦

 

 

 

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Filed under Benefits, Changes, Daughters, Death, Disability, DLA, DWP, Ill Health, PIP

Are we all asking ourselves the right questions? . . . . . .

I was catching up on my Blog reading this evening (I get emails from the Blogs I follow, whenever they post anything), and I read yesterday’s post by Kitty S. Jones, in her Politics and Insights Blog.

She was asking the questions to all of her readers, that I’ve been asking myself for the past few weeks and, what she says, is so very relevant to us all, if we don’t want to lose sight of the bigger picture, politics-wise!

At the moment, the Media are going crazy over the Labour Leadership challenge, which would be okay, if they had also become angered, and then let the world know this, at the way the Right-wing Labour PLP had disenfranchised thousands of new Labour Party members (myself included), after promising them on joining, that they would be able to vote in the leadership challenge!

They then went on to charge £25 each for those who still wanted to vote – throught the registered supporters ticket – and then, after the money was paid, managed to get a court ruling that the new members, and the supporters who had paid for the privilege to vote, could not now vote either – a fraudulent, and totally undemocratic, use of members fees!

Despite the anger I, and so many others feel, though, it behoves us all to start thinking more about what’s being done on the quiet, where the Conservatives are concerned!

These are the ones we should be fighting, not each other and, if you don’t believe me, maybe you should follow the link below, and read what Kitty says, and what will happen if we continue to ignore the important stuff. I know that, after reading her post, I’m more concerned than ever over the way Labour’s split is leaving the Conservatives the freedom to take away both our civil liberties, and our Human Rights!

 

Dead Cat Conditioning, Attention Deficit, andThe Social Order

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Filed under Changes, Choices, Disability Issues, Disasters, Divide and Rule, History, Human Rights, Ideology, Politics, Reading, Rhetoric

This is a New Me . . .

. . and I really don’t know how I’m developing as yet.

 

I spent too many years listening to some men in New York, telling me that I should have nothing to do with the World, and not enough time learning about everything happening around me – and then I woke up, after learning that those men in New York were more interested in protecting paedophiles, than the children they were supposed to be protecting!

It was quite a wake up call!

Then, before I could turn around, the UK was calling for a referendum, to decide whether to stay in the EU or not and, as it happens, because of a campaign of lies and deceit (on both sides, I have to add), the votes went with the Leave party – and what a can of worms that opened!

 

Now, when we joined the EU, I was just a young child, and all I recall about that, was my Mum up in arms, because the EU had decided that cucumbers, or bananas, or something of that nature, needed to be straighter (I may have misheard this, of course, but you get the picture, I hope?) and, suddenly, my pocket-money was given in Monopoly money, and I couldn’t buy as much as I used to with it! Lol

Fast forward all those years, where the EU and I were quite comfortable with each other (well, all right, I was comfortable with the EU – I don’t suppose it knows I’m alive! Lol) and I’ve been reading a ton of words about how things should have been, how they may be and, frankly, how nobody knows anything, but it’ll work out okay, won’t it?

Through all the last few weeks, I’ve been trying to learn what I can about those characters who are considered the movers and shakers – aka, our MP’s – because I was going to be voting – something I hadn’t done since the year I turned 18, and voted for a woman as, surely, a woman couldn’t make any worse a hash of things as the men have done – can she?

😦

Anyway, I was reading, and reading, and getting seriously depressed at the dearth of choices we have for our Prime Minister, only to find that the choices have got ever smaller (please, God, don’t let it be Gove!)

Anyway, reading about the various party leaders, I was interested in what was said about Jeremy Corbyn. All I knew was that the Media, and practically every opposition MP, were having a real pop at him but, rather than putting me off the guy, the fact that he seemed to be universally hated by everyone who has had a hand in making the mess we’re in right now, decided me to try to find out what he was trying to achieve.

I was pleasantly surprised:)

After the 172 Labour MP’s tried to stage a coup against Jeremy Corbyn, I expected him to be forced into resigning, as so many politicians had done before him – but, no, he stuck around, and continued to promise the Labour Grass Roots that, if he did ever become Prime Minister, he would do his best to bring things around to the way they should be, where Labour will be about the people who voted for them.

I would love to see a Labour Party that really protects those that need it, whether through illness, disability, through age, or because jobs are presently few and far between.

We need a party that will deliver on their promises of public ownership of resources, rather than selling everything off to private companies with no accountability; we need our NHS back up to scratch, with more training places given free to local people who want to work as our future doctors and nurses; we need to be building more homes for those people who, through no fault of their own, can’t, and never will be able to, afford to buy their own and, as a consequence of that building work, they will generate more jobs! We need a party that will make taxes fair for everyone – including making the super-rich companies, presently hiding behind unfair tax laws, cough up what they owe to a country that has provided their work forces, their raw materials in a lot of cases, and the land that the buildings they occupy stand on!

We also need to put a stop to the awful xenophobia currently splashing its way around the country – and this a country that has been made up of practically every nation in Europe, from the distant past, to the present day – plus all those Commonwealth countries, that were forcibly put under the yoke of the British Empire, had all their wealth stolen away, and were forced into slavery, to help make a few Elite even wealthier than they already were!

I digress!

Anyway, if Jeremy Corbyn can get the Labour Party turned back to its original purposes, and can then help to protect us all from the idealogically-driven ideas of this present lot, then we may actually get back some of that spirit that drove the working man to better his lot in the first place – not by climbing over the bleeding backs of others to get only what we want, but standing on the shoulders of those who came before them, with the dream of making life  – maybe not easier, but certainly better than it’s been for at least the last few decades.

Maybe I’m a dreamer, but I’d love to see our MP’s get away from seeing themselves as Career Politicians, or as a way to line their pockets with whatever they can squeeze out of an unaware electorate – and I mean that for every Party!

I would love to see the Politician doing the job they are paid for – protecting the rights of the people of this country, no matter what race, colour, or creed they happen to be!

I guess time will tell, but I hope that, in the meantime, someone will work out what we’re going to actually do about the pickle we’re in at the moment!

 

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Filed under Changes, Childhood, Choices, Disability Issues, Faith, Human Rights, Ideology, Politics, Reading

Off with the old, on with the new . . .

Now that our dear old First Class system is reduced to read only, I find myself missing the busyness of my various favourite forums, which had been saved onto my FC desktop, and so were easily found by accessing FC – which was done with the mere click of a button.
Now, I’m having to negotiate Moodle – a hotchpotch of different pages and links that confuse even the more computer-literate of us, which I’m definitely not!


The biggest problem with this, is accessing the new forums placed on there, which I had been having great trouble finding, ending up going around in circles until I gave up in despair! If it wasn’t for a lovely student who was more computer-savvy than I – and many more of us humble students – I’d still be either struggling with the system, or giving up the access to my fellow students, and going it alone, as I’d had to do before getting First Class access in my early years with the Open University. 
But, with her idiot-proof, step-by-step instructions, I eventually worked out how to find all my favourite forums on Moodle, and then save them to links on my Student Page!


For the first time in what seemed like ages, I went through the links yesterday, and caught up with all the news, although I’ve found that many of my favourite forums are still only lightly used – whether by the fact of holidays, or people finding access to Moodle difficult, we shall have to see – although there have been some comments where some students, because of their various disabilities, are finding the whole thing impossible to negotiate – bad news for those of us left, as we are now missing out on the wisdom, and delight, of some very special contributors to the various forums!


I still have no real idea why the O.U., in their supposed wisdom, decided to change over from FC to Moodle – although I suspect the main reason was financial, as usual 😦
I find it ridiculous, though, that a facility that was important to all of us far-flung students, has now been compromised for the sake of penny-pinching!


One of the reasons I stuck with the O.U., was the fact that I could contact, and chat with, students from all over the country, and even all over the world practically, and we were able to discuss both the work we were studying, and also any problems we were facing both with study, and personally, which also put us on a par with students who access brick Unis, when they meet up with their fellow students.


FC had made it possible for our forums to feel like a huge family to me, and I loved that instant access to people who had more than studying in common, especially with all my health problems but, with the Moodle access, there isn’t the flexibility for discussion that we had with FC, and this is bound to put off students with more serious problems than my own to cope with.


I feel like Mum and Dad have divorced, and we children are now having to cope with step-parents who, although they still look after us, don’t have that same family feeling of caring to back it up.
I feel like we are now all second best to the new-born child of this new family group and, like the child with her nose put out of joint by the newcomer, I don’t like it at all 😦

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Wishing you Peace and Joy in the coming new year!



I hope that all who read this will find Peace, Joy and much Love in the coming new year.


May God keep you all in His care 🙂


x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x

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