a reply to: theabsolutetruth
You really do live in la-la land, don't you? Wake up and smell the sewage.
I started off life on a good trajectory. I went to university, qualified with a BSc in physics. I got a job in a laboratory doing physical testing on
a companies final product, to make sure it was safe and within the companies specifications. Then, I got cancer, probably caused by some of the
noxious compounds that were around me in the lab, but this could never be proven.
After a 3 year battle with cancer, I returned to the 'market place'. I didn't want to go and work in a lab again, all things considered, and because
my education was so specific to working in a lab, I found it hard to get another job. I eventually ended up working in the kitchen of a restauraunt. I
started to rebuild my life, I had an income, I started night school, to retrain as a computer programmer.
Around this point it was discovered that I had type 2 diabetes mellitius. Not a big issue at that point.
I went rock climbing with some friends of mine, and fell, shattering my right leg. Yes, some will say 'thats your own fault', and they'd be correct. I
don't blame anyone for that. However the long term result was a loss of mobility. The break was so severe it impaired the blood flow to the leg, and
effectivly confined me to a wheelchair. I can walk, but no more than 20 meters or so, without extreme pain.
The sudden sedentry lifestyle, coupled with the afore mentioned DM eventuall resulted in an eye condition known as diabetic retinopathy. In other
words, I'm going blind. It can be treated but only to a certain extent, and not cured.
I was placed, initially on Incapacity Benefit after a lot of medical exams, and told that because of my conditions, I would never be expected to work
again. The new government's healthcare policies revoked that, and once again I was subjected to a lot of medical questioning and testing. The outcome
was much the same, the DM told me I probably shouldn't be expected to work again, as its quite obvious that given my condition, I would be unable to.
However the changes in the law meant that he could only award me Contribution Based ESA for 5 years, then I'd have to be reassessed.
Contribution based ESA means I have an income, but it is somewhat less than it was under IB. It also means I am not eligible for rent our council tax
support. The local council has some discretionary power over this, and decided that I only oave to pay £80 per fortnight towards my rent. They would
make up the rest.
I won't go into the minutae of my financial position, save to say that after the rent, council tax, water is paid, I have £20 a fortnight left, with
which I have to pay for gas, electric, food, clothing, travel expenses (travel expenses to hospital are refunded so can be excluded).
The simple reality of it is, I have on average, £5 per fortnight left for food, during summer when I don't need to pay for heating as much as its
warm out. Less in winter.
I don't own a fridge or freezer, they cost too much electricity to run. Which is actually pretty bad, as my insulin is meant to be kept cool. The
doctor understands this, and gives me smaller prescriptions of it, more frequently. I don't own a TV, the licence fee is too much for my budget. I own
a PC, its even an alienware desktop, but only becase my best friend bought it me as a birthday present 3 years ago. He lets me bludge off his wifi. I
came close to selling it several times, just to be able to afford to eat. He stopped me every time because he knows I love that PC.
I've not been able to afford new clothes in over 10 years. Not even ones from Oxfam. Even a pair of oxfam trousers are a significant chunk out of my
For some reason, social services told me I don't meet the requirements to qualify to use a food bank. They did give me the reasons, they didn't make a
whole lot of sense to me.
Sure, companies like Tesco do home delivery for about £5. Oh wait, thats my entire food budget. Iceland do free delivery, but you have to spend at
least £25 in a single visit to qualify.
So how do I manage to buy "organic flour" which costs only 50p more? I don't. I'd rather take that 50p and buy the non-organic, chemical laden stuff
for 23p, and a bag of pasta.
So please, stop living in la-la land, and realise that poverty is very real and people have to make very harsh choices about heat or eat.
Occasionally my friend will buy me a pizza. Or take me out shopping in his car, or pay for my shopping occasionally, and refill my larder properly. It
makes me feel bad to accept, but realistically, what choice do I have?
Edit: To add:
I supplement my food with things I grow in the garden. I have 4 gooseberry bushes, 2 blackberry bushes, a plum tree, and I grow tomatoes and cabbage
in the borders where most people would grow flowers.
edit on 6/8/2014 by BMorris because: Additional info