This is a guest post by @GemmaGoode and originally appeared here.
I have received disability living allowance (DLA) since I was around 7 years old. My feet are so bad that walking is extremely painful! At 24 I can’t walk half as far as I used too, I have insoles made to go in the one pair of trainers I can fit into and I also take painkillers and anti-inflammatory drugs every day to try and give me some small shot at making it through the day. In the UK if you receive the higher rate mobility component of DLA you can opt to use the money for the motability scheme – a great service where instead of money, you receive a car on a 3 year lease for help with ‘getting around’. At 17 I passed my driving test and I used the scheme to get a car to help me go to work, do the food shopping, attend hospital appointments and go swimming. My car has been the one thing that has enabled me to live a ‘normal’ life. I can have a full time job, run my own home and have the freedom to know If I need to be somewhere I can get there – pain free!
So imagine my devastation when my government, took away my car and told me, you are no longer entitled to help or benefits because frankly you’re just not disabled enough. With no car I fear now my life as I know it is on borrowed time. I’ve appealed but the minimum wait for an appeal is another 11 weeks. With no car I’m struggling to get to work, I have to walk to the bus stop and try and manage two bus journeys and another walk from the bus stop to work. By the time I get there my feet already scream in pain. By the time I’ve done an 8 hour shift I’m dead on my feet and I have the same two bus journey home to do before I can even think about sitting down and resting my red raw and sore painful feet. If they ever get that bad I usually don’t walk on them for 24 hours to try and let them recover but without a car and rent and bills to pay I have less than 12 hours before I have to do it all over again. There’s no chance of food shopping (how on earth could I carry it home!) and I don’t think hospital appointments are available on a weekend.
If I lose my job I lose my house and then where do I go? On a council housing list? Oh I’m afraid not, you see I was bought up to earn my own living, take the minimal help i need and don’t have babies until i can afford them, and yet when I call to ask for help I am told that as i don’t have any dependent children they cannot house me and as i elected to leave work (regardless of why!) they won’t help to find me a home because I had one.
So here I am, in pain and in fear of losing my home because I can’t physically carry on getting to work but more importantly because today my government gave up on me. I’ve spent all my life trying to live the right life, to be a productive part of society and not different but it seems I got it wrong because my society cannot help me unless I have done all the things my hard working mother told me not too.
How much of a failure do I feel to know that my mind IS capable of working but my body is not, it’s not my fault but I’m being punished for it anyway. My car helped me to be normal, there was nothing that I couldn’t do because if my feet couldn’t get me there my wheels could.
The government has a legal obligation to support a child whose parents do not because it’s simply not the childs fault, but when you’re an adult and need support because it’s not your fault, they will stand back and watch your world fall apart around you, regardless of how hard you have tried, regardless of what help you need.