Sunday 6 February 2011

What's a Life Worth?

Someone pointed me to a site called 5 Quid for Life,
a new charity-in-the-making, set up in January 2011 to support mentally ill people who may be adversely affected by changes to the UK benefits system.
and it made me so, so sad.

Set up in response to Aliquant's post about her plans for suicide if she is refused ESA,
to encourage people to give, ideally to commit to regular giving of £5 per month, to enable us to offer a life-saving safety net beneath the benefits system.

It made me sad, and then it made me angry. Not the site itself - the site is lovely, and caring, and a beautiful response to someone's utter despair. Rather, it made me angry that this is necessary at all. That anyone in this country in the 21st century saw a need to get strangers to donate money so that people with mental health problems can support themselves rather than kill themselves.

How has this happened? That we are under such scrutiny, and in a state of such terror, and so disregarded by the government, as well as the opposing party, that millions of us are at risk of homelessness and destitution, as some kind of punishment for being ill.

Any idea that once our benefits are stopped, we will 'buck our ideas up' will be proven again and again to be, at best, misguided, and at worst, downright dangerous. Threats of suicide are worryingly frequent in comments on this blog alone. Those of us with mental health problems are thought to be the most at risk of failing the assessments, which are reported to ask questions which are much less relevant to people with mental health problems, as well as other invisible disabilities.

One thing is for sure, the medicals, the reassessments, the regular hatred in parts of the media, the misinformation from the government, are all working together to make us more stressed, more depressed, more anxious and more paranoid. Therefore further and further away from the elusive 'wellness' which would enable us to start thinking about paid work and leaving the benefits system.

I am disgusted, and ashamed, to be in a country where people are having to hold collections in order that people will be able to eat. People, specifically, who are frightened, sick and vulnerable.

(Cross posted at incurable hippie blog)


  1. Isn’t the welfare state supposed to be a safety net? We need another net beneath the net? Forget human rights, forget dignity... Let’s just go back to the Victorian age where disabled people have to beg to live. Still, I suppose I’m short enough to get away with passing for Tiny Tim.

  2. "another net beneath the net" - you put that so well. It seems that's exactly what we need.

  3. It's the world we live in - We had Empires run by Emperors, then we had Kingdoms run by Kings. Now we have Countries...

  4. It is terrible it's come to this but that shouldn't detract from the kindness of the people who set up and support this charity. Seeing this charity has restored my faith in humanity and as someone on benefit it is reassuring to know that should the government cut my support someone will be providing me with a safet net. I'd just like to take this opportunity to thank the people involved with the charity and I wish you the best with it! I hope this sort of thing will catch on and these sort of charities be introduced to other marginalised sections of society.

  5. Honestly this idea was *nicked* from another charity representing those of us with ME who are desperately trying to fund biomedical research into the condition.

    Proof from here: Dates from 2009 at its inception.

    A quid less gets you some ME research!

    Both are hugely worthy causes, don't get me wrong but the 'just x quid' has its origins with another charity that also needs mention.

  6. I recently read an article on the new cuts we are facing here in CA for the disabled and I was disgusted by the way our state treats our children as if they are useless garbage who's quality of life has no importance in these cuts.

    I think that lady has a good point in the article, about how through those programs her son was able to get a job, and if he didn't he would have to rely on the state for income. The state needs to consider that, are they really cutting costs, or will they be increasing their expenditures because without the programs, the people with disabilities will need the states help to sustain them economically. At least the programs make an attempt to help these people out by giving them the skills and the social interaction they would not normally get.

    I can tell you from experience with my own son who is 22 years old with autism(who had to be placed in the OPARC program after not wanting to attend his high school because of bad treatment he received by certain staff members) After being home for several months while Regional Center negotiated with the school district wether or no to place him in another school or a adult day center, my son became very distant, he displayed violent behavior and even begun to make up people to talk to from lack of social interaction with others beside myself & my other children. Being placed in a program like OPARC has given him so much self confidence and joy. He is excited everyday to attend his program and to see his friends there. His Behavior issues along with the other things that where going on before he started attending OPARC have all but disappeared.

    How dare our Governor and state officials treat my son and these angles with disabilities as if they are garbage that don't deserve the same enjoyments in life that we as
    " regular" or "normal" people do.

    they are basically telling my child that the 20 years of treatment,programs, behavioral specialist and socialization we have work so hard for has no relevance and was a waste of time.

    If you are a family member or know someone with a disability please write letters or call you local officials to stop them from taking away the quality of life for our loved ones/friends with disabilities they can't speak for themselves so we have to speak for them.

    Thank you for having the courage to write you legislators and state officials and please know just how disturbing this is to us parents and family members of a disabled person.

    Tina Marie Rivas
    Montclair, Ca

  7. I am pleased that the Uk are changing benefits for the mentally ill as it will get me into a job where I wont be able to talk about what has caused me to be mentally ill. The more my thoughts and feelings are surpressed the more I feel suicidal; and forcing me into work where I wont be able to be free to talk about my life at the drop of a hat will put me in a frame of emotional isolation where I will joyfully be tipped over the edge and hang myself on the work premises. I have to talk and have to cry when I need to....yippppeeee get me to work and get me to my resting place. Can i get a job in Parliment please?