Archive for the ‘blindness’ Category

Will I still get Personal Independence Payments if G4S can’t talk to me?

27 November 2011


When I was asked to take part in the testing of the first draft of the Personal Independence Payment (PIP) assessment, I was very uneasy about it. While I didn’t want to be seen as condoning it; I chose to take part to prove to what extent the assessments pose difficulties for other deafblind people.

I am a profoundly deafblind wheelchair user, and have other medical needs. Most people are likely to think that someone with my impairments and long-term health conditions would be one of "the most vulnerable in society" that this government claims to be protecting. Yet, the coalition’s insistence on face-to-face assessments will probably lead to me losing out because quite simply, I wasn’t able to take part in the pilot.

Will I still get Personal Independence Payments if G4S can’t talk to me? | Society |

Hardest Hit Rally – Edinburgh

24 October 2011

CarerWatch member Pat Onions attended the Hardest Hit rally in Edinburgh. Here is her thoughts.

The rally, in the beautiful Princes Street gardens of Edinburgh, was the largest ever staged in Scotland with over 1,000 of us. Many disabled people and their carers couldn’t make it to the capital but I know you were with us in spirit.

The organisers held it in the band stand which has a stage and tiered seating AND chairs! AND vital for me…. loos!

David and I found access somewhat difficult. It seemed a choice of 39 steps or parachuting from a cliff top. David, who had insisted he would walk with his trundler, chose the cliff. Slowly and painfully we made it. Yes of course there was disabled access but buggered if we could find it!

The march itself had to be cancelled. The authorities could not guarantee  access for everyone along the proposed route. This had a lot to do with the fact that the controversial trams are now on the build again.

No matter I don’t think we could have negotiated the North face of the Eiger again!

Pam Duncan, of Inclusion Scotland, was the chair and damned good she was too. I don’t know if a chair is supposed to say quite as much but she wasn’t for stopping! I loved her.

Lord (Colin) Low was our first speaker and he, like the other speakers, didn’t really need the microphone. Such was their knowledge & passion in their words.

The young lad Jay Wakefield, from student disabilities, had a little trouble with the high winds & his kilt. This was a bonus especially for the ladies!

All the speakers talked on a different aspect of the proposed welfare reforms but the same message from them all. We ARE the Hardest Hit and we will NOT take it. I almost felt sorry for the Labour MSP who was heckled. I am sure he didn’t start the welfare reform ball in motion personally but our heckler felt he did. Brave MSP to come along.  Strangely noticeable by there absence was the Tories & LibDems. Now that would have been brave or very stupid.

If the British Gov thought disabled people would be an easy target they couldn’t have been more wrong. We have all had to develop our own survival skills which has made us stronger. Camerout & his millionaire buddies seem to have overlooked this.

It was an excellent rally in the late autumn sunshine. Frighteningly there was nothing said I didn’t already know but we left with as much determination to carry on campaigning as we’d had on arrival.

Those of us there came from all walks of life with all sorts of disability. Carers, children & families. They all came. Came with their own struggles to share.

I was proud to stand shoulder to shoulder with my adopted compatriots. If Mr Salmond ever wants a vote on ‘Devolution from Westminster;….he will have mine.

A sort of PS.

David proudly wore his service medals. While walking back along Princes Street a young man, in his 30’s, came up to us. Is that a medal from the Royal Navy he asked. My Dad served with them and it looks the same. David told him what the medals were for. The young man wanted to know how long David had served. A brief history of how long & why he was medically discharged followed.

The young man, who called David Sir, asked if he could shake his hand? It was very moving and done out of pure respect for David and what he had stood for. This young man told us he was waiting for an operation for cataracts which he was unlikely to get due to the NHS cuts. He said it was nothing compared with what David had lived through and was still living through. A few more words as to why David was walking through the middle of the Capital with his medals. This young man made me even more determined to fight on. It was a extraordinary brief encounter from a total stranger.

A lesson there for all those who think they can dismiss any disabled person as unimportant.

David was very quiet on the way home.

Life in the fast lane by Pat Onions

17 October 2011

I have a piece written about David’s new shower. Nothing to do with welfare reform just councils!! It is quite amusing but barely covered half the goings on in a room 12′ x 3′ 6″!! I thought it might take people’s minds away from the horrors of what is happening to us all. A slice of life.


We were fortunate, if you can call it that, to be recommended by the Occupational Therapist, for a new shower for David. The one we inherited when we moved in was far too small for his big frame & disintegrating spine. During a routine assessment this was raised and she confirmed the shower was not fit for purpose. The council would provide a grant of 80% and we had to make up the rest.

So…she visited a second time bringing the council’s answer to Kevin McCloud only shorter and not as good looking or intelligent. This was the ARCHITECT.

The problems soon reared their heads. Shower room is long & narrow. The shower tray is too wide. David sat quietly on his shower stool saying, “it won’t fit, it won’t fit”. Me, who has to shower him, had one foot on the toilet seat trying to reach over to David sitting fully clothed in the pretend space. It was a sheer impossibility that the aforesaid size would ever fit…. it was too big. Architect Kevin was on the floor by now using loo brush and toilet rolls to show where it WOULD go. But it won’t fit David was still quietly telling him.

Right architect Kevin says. We will have to move the radiator, put in a sliding door, shuffle up the toilet and with a bit of squeezing it should go in sideways. This would mean David could be showered, shaved and toileted all at the same time in one very small corner. Brilliant said Kevin.

David had nodded off by now & talking in his sleep, “It won’t fit”

Silent until now OT piped up “but we have to make the door wide enough for a wheelchair”. “Ah” says Kevin now adding soap tray to his growing collection of useful architectural objects on the floor.

My turn to join in as I had cramp in my leg and desperate for a wee. “But where does the wheelchair go once it comes through the door”? The room is so narrow your knees are bumping into the opposite wall and David can’t get to the toilet. If you widen the door to make it wheelchair accessible you will have to widen the bedroom door, outside doors and remove steps. Kevin gave me a look which said…and who are YOU?

By now my Border Collies had appeared in the doorway to see what was happening with their Mum & Dad. Our Collies have invented a game. It involves a squeaky rubber toy and a part of the male anatomy best reserved for procreation. Toys in mouths, as they had a captive audience, the sight of Kevin on elbows & knees with posterior in the air was too much to resist. You know when something is going to happen and there is nothing you can do to stop it? Yup Merritt struck a bull’s eye. Kevin leapt up, banged his head on the toilet bowl, scattering bars of architectural soap, talcum powder & shower gel, letting out a shriek about his manhood. What a brilliant reaction thought Merritt who dived in to collect ball now fallen to the floor and try for a second hit.

David woke with a jolt asking, “Does it fit now”?

It was never going to fit. This is what the council provide for us as disabled people. You know the ‘one size fits all’ syndrome? Most of us would have a space and get something to fit it. Oh no not councils. Buy the cheapest ‘it’ and then make the space fit.

OT went back to her office, searched through her catalogue & sure enough found the right sized one for David AND tray would fit without knocking the house down.

Plans were drawn, we tweaked them, and council tweaked them back again.  Bit bat bit bat. We got final tweak and all was agreed. Door would not be widened but we had to sign a disclaimer saying that if ever David needed to take his wheelchair into the shower room any alterations would be at no cost to them. Signed in blood. Of course we had to have the statutory 3 estimates and they took the statutory cheapest. White tiles, 17p per 100 from a well known Tile shop and any colour floor covering as long as it was cheapest and brown. Oh the worse bit was we had to have half folding doors and a 1970’s plastic curtain. Again any colour & material as long as it is horrible. I did point out that as David’s carer, and with my own disability, I found the half folding doors impossible to manage without getting the rest of the room flooded. Ah yes but you might have a council home carer come in sometime in the future. Might I? You’ve never provided one before in spite of repeated requests. AND David being assessed as entitled to help AND telling us you don’t have any anyway. But I might.

I am a woman. Yup & women have bits that, for the most part, stick out. I am also quite tall but those damnable bits still stick out a little bit. You try leaning over a door which, not only cuts you in half, but squashes those sticky out bits into places Mother nature never designed them to go. Perhaps, in time, Mother Nature will evolve us women into something more suitable to the statutory rules of the council?

After 20 years of caring for David I have never had a problem with full size doors. But then again, what do I know?

Dickie, cheap cheap cheap, Bird, the council appointed builder duly arrived and his first words were “You pay me as soon as I’ve finished, sign here & here & here. OK”?

I had opted to spend a few pennies to try and make it nice for David. I bought some non-white tiles & coloured flooring, which confused Dickie Bird over our 20% contribution. He was one of those people easily confused and clearly wasn’t used to dealing with the likes of me. He didn’t like women full stop. Certainly not ones who knew a thing or two about local authorities & how they operate.

He looked at the plans and scowled. These plans had been drawn up by Kevin early in the New Year and Dickie seemed to have forgotten what he had to do. “My shower trays won’t fit,” wailed Dickie. Bad supplier and new one had a different size. Oops thought I as Collies reached for their toys with a delighted look that said – Is Kevin coming back?

Dickie took the old shower out finding another even smaller one underneath. The removal of this brought his second problem and he left early. I went for a nose around &, sitting on the toilet, thought I can see daylight. Lots of it. In fact weren’t those shapes moving around the cows in the bottom field? I pondered this new non-statutory addition, which Kevin must have over looked. By removing 2 layers of tiles the whole wall had collapsed. Kevin would have had his way and the tray he wanted would have fitted after all. David could have showered outside!

Dickie is still here taking extra time to complete what he regarded as an easy routine council contract. Not a happy bunny. His profiteering from using only the least expensive of materials, ‘offered’ to disabled people, is fast disappearing. All within the council rules who, of course, source the ‘very least expensive’ of everything telling us it is the ‘best use of limited resources.’ They do this regardless of disability needs or those of the carer.

I had a peep this morning, before he arrived, and the new pull to turn on the shower power is hanging from the middle of the ceiling like a hangman’s noose. Ready to snare me when I go in to put towels away. Being brave I questioned this when he arrived. Rules & regulations say it has to be x feet away from the shower & water.  Yes but in the middle of the room inches away from the sink & toilet?  Dunno bout them…just gotta be away from the shower & water. Says so in the rules & regulations. I had a vision of David sitting on the loo with 20,000 volts powering through his body. I left Dickie studying the rules & regulations wondering if some alternative to washing with water had been invented yet?

I will wait until he finishes before passing judgement but despair starts to creep in.

The council work to rules & regulations decided by someone, non-disabled of course, sitting in an office, No consultation to the clients. You take it or leave it and if it weren’t for David I would leave it in the same place as my Collie’s squeaky rubber toy.

Pat Onions

This is dedicated to my 2 beloved Border Collies whose intelligence & inventiveness is beyond any council or architect’s understanding of disabled people.

What EVERY MP should know about welfare reform

16 October 2011

Sue Marsh of Diary of a Benefit Scrounger  has sent this over asking everyone to help raise awareness.

Since Employment and Support Allowance was introduced back in 2008, campaigners and those affected have warned that it is flawed. Not because people must face assessment to qualify for support but because the wrong people are declared “fit for work”.

People clearly too disabled to work get harassed and pressurised into work programmes they clearly cannot comply with, while the number of “cheats” or “scroungers” caught, remains at exactly the same level it always did.

Throughout the last year, we have warned of a tipping point.  With over 110,000 decisions already found to be wrong and overturned, 11,000 people a week are being put through flawed assessments. It is only a matter of time before this becomes the toxic story of recent years. MP mailbags are already bursting with letters about this.

Read in full here

What EVERY MP should know about welfare reform

Can you help raise awareness by sharing this post with your contacts, on Facebook and twitter too.

Contact your MP with your concerns.

Please leave a comment on Sues’ blog or contact her direct with links to any reports in your own local newspapers.

For those that dont know, Sue is one of the founder members of  The Broken Of Britain team


Three little words – ‘Tax Payers Money’

11 October 2011

Blog piece by Pat Onions

There is a word or three I loathe.

More than the Employment Support Allowance.

More than the Work Capability Assessment and probably more than the Personal Independent Payment.

‘Tax Payers Money.’

I have been listening to Ms Miller talking about the new PIP. She sounded quite nice and chatty. Of course they will continue to pay £40 million to those disabled. Good. She then used those words… from ‘Tax Payers Money.

It is a move to stir up the people of this country. She could just say the amount which will be paid. Why add those 3 words at the end?

Effect of course is to make me feel worthless and useless. The effect is to let the ordinary man or woman, who works and pays tax, where their deductions are going.  I too am ordinary but I can’t use the library, drive on the roads or play ping-pong at the leisure centre. That of course is totally different. It always is when it comes to those of us with a disability.

Ordinary men, and women, would have no idea if they weren’t reminded at every verse end. They would sit at home watching another reality show on their 40″ Plasma screen. They’re probably not wondering too much where all the tax they pay each month is being spent. It is the duty of politician, newspaper and television reporters to tell them. And they do. Constantly. All the time and endlessly.

Like many others I did work. I did pay my taxes and did pay my NI. I still pay taxes on everything I eat, drink, sit on or sleep in. I don’t think the air that I breathe comes ‘from Tax Payers Money’  but I wouldn’t put any money on it.

When you are poorly and hurting…say with an abscess and extreme toothache…. you don’t want some smart Alec telling you that your dentist isn’t funded from ‘Tax payers Money’ anymore. You don’t want to hear that you have to dig deep in your pocket for some painkillers. You want support and help. Oh dear…. perhaps involving the NHS as an example is not such a good idea.

I get reminded that I have languished for more than 10 years on benefits. Benefits paid from ‘Tax Payers Money’. I haven’t actually languished at all. I have a rare, irreversible, hereditary condition. Proper experts diagnosed me, not a nurse playing at being an ophthalmic consultant with years of training & experience. The consultant recognised my disability and knew I would not be able to work. Nothing in society or the work place has changed in all those years to enable me to work. So why oh why do Politicians believe it has?

They can beat me with sticks; tell me if I don’t work I lose my benefits. It makes not one jot of difference to my disability. It is unchanged and always will be.

By taking my ‘Tax Payers Money’ from me it will mean I don’t eat, clothe myself and lose the roof over my head. They can assess me; reassess me as many times as they decide. I have no eyes, and no matter how many assessments, those eyes will never grow back and see again. Somehow Politicians seem to think they have a magic power to make them work…after all ‘Work Pays.’

Pat Onions

Major shake-up of adult social care in Lincolnshire is approved

5 October 2011


HUNDREDS of elderly and vulnerable people will have their home help removed as part of the biggest shake-up of adult social care in Lincolnshire for more than 60 years.

County councillors agreed yesterday to remove care allowances to people who need help with simple household tasks like cooking or cleaning.

Major shake-up of adult social care in Lincolnshire is approved | This is Lincolnshire

An opportunity to raise YOUR voice to break the silence

21 September 2011

This is a joint venture between CarerWatch, The Broken of Britain, Disabled people Against Cuts and ACTnow

Everyone is urged to support this.

To all our members and supporters;

The Labour party conference starts in Liverpool on Saturday. As we all know, Labour were the architects of Employment Support Allowance and the ‘not fit for purpose’ Work Capability Assessment which is so stressful and traumatic it was linked to the suicide of claimants whilst Labour were still in power. The Labour party are the official party of opposition, but they are not opposing the Welfare Reform Bill as they should be and seem to have forgotten that the 10 million sick and or disabled people plus carers, friends and family in the UK have the power to vote. It is time for us to remind Labour that they will not get any of our votes if they do not start to oppose the parts of the Welfare Reform Bill set to return sick people, disabled people and carers to a life of desperation, dependency, despair and charity.

We are asking you to help with a mass email to the Labour party to remind them of our voting power. Please include the following details in your email and send it to Ed Miliband, Margaret Curran (shadow minister for disability) and Liam Byrne (shadow minister for DWP). If you have time please also email it to any Labour MP and particularly any members of the shadow cabinet. We have provided a list of email contacts below.

Please aim to send your email at 11am tomorrow (Thursday the 22nd September) If you can’t send the email at 11am, don’t worry, just please try to send it at any time between then and the end of Labour party conference on Wednesday 29th September.

The email subject should read “Your Silence Is Deafening”

We suggest embedding a link to this youtube video “The Sound of Silence” To embed the video into your email just copy and paste the link below.  

Then please copy the following text into your email;

Dear (insert name here)

‘The 10 million disabled people in this country plus their carers, relatives and friends are watching what your party do in relation to disability issues and wondering why you seem disinterested in trying to get their votes by opposing the savage attacks against disabled people being made by the Coalition government. During conference season we wish to remind you, the architects of Employment and Support Allowance to ‘never fall ill, never grow old, never become disabled, never become a carer’, for if you do, as we have found, not even Labour will speak up for you.’

If you would like to add a short, personal message explaining to Labour how you feel about their lack of support for sick, disabled people and carers then please include it after the suggested text. You might also like to include a photo of yourself, or perhaps a photo of what disability, sickness or caring means to you. Don’t worry if you don’t want to personalise the email, sending the suggested text is fine.

Contact details below

Ed Miliband MP, Leader of the Labour Party
House of Commons, London, SW1A 0AA
Tel: 020 7219 4778
Shadow Secretary of State for Work & Pensions
Liam Byrne
House of Commons, London, SW1A 0AA
Tel: 020 7219 6953
Fax: 020 7219 1431
House of Commons, London, SW1A 0AA
Tel: 020 7219 8102
Fax: 020 7219 6656
Shadow Home Secretary and Minister for Women and Equalities
Rt Hon Yvette Cooper MP
Shadow Chief Secretary
Angela Eagle
Shadow Secretary of State for Business, Innovation & Skills
John Denham
Cabinet Office and Minister for the Olympics
Tessa Jowell
Shadow Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government
Caroline Flint
House of Commons, London, SW1A 0AA
Tel: 020 7219 4407
Fax: 020 7219 1277
Shadow Secretary of State for Culture, Media & Sport
Ivan Lewis
House of Commons, London, SW1A 0AA
Tel: 020 7219 2609
Shadow Leader of the House of Commons 
Hilary Benn
House of Commons, London, SW1A 0AA
Tel: 020 7219 5770
Shadow Secretary of State for Defence
Jim Murphy
House of Commons, London, SW1A 0AA
Tel: 020 7219 4615
Fax: 020 7219 5657
Shadow Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Mary Creagh
House of Commons, London, SW1A 0AA
Tel: 020 7219 6984/020 7219 8766
Fax: 020 7219 4257
Shadow Secretary of State for Education and Election Coordinator
Andy Burnham
House of Commons, London, SW1A 0AA
Tel: 020 7219 8250
Shadow Lord Chancellor, Secretary of State for Justice
Sadiq Khan
House of Commons, London, SW1A 0AA
Tel: 020 7219 6967
Fax: 020 7219 6477
Shadow Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change
Meg Hillier
House of Commons, London, SW1A 0AA
Tel: 020 7219 5325
Fax: 020 7219 8768
Shadow Secretary of State for Health
John Healey
House of Commons, London, SW1A 0AA
Tel: 020 7219 6359
Fax: 020 7219 2451
Shadow Secretary of State for Northern Ireland
Shaun Woodward
House of Commons, London, SW1A 0AA
Tel: 020 7219 2680
Shadow Secretary of State for Scotland
Ann McKechin
House of Commons, London, SW1A 0AA
Tel: 020 7219 8239
Fax: 020 7219 1770
Shadow Secretary of State for Transport
Maria Eagle
House of Commons, London, SW1A 0AA
Tel: 020 7219 4019
Fax: 020 7219 1157
Shadow Secretary of State for Wales
Peter Hain
House of Commons, London, SW1A 0AA
Tel: 020 7219 3925
Fax: 020 7219 3816
Steven Timms MP

Karen Buck MP

Coalition government – a ‘machine’ made from steel

8 September 2011

For countless years, with successive governments, family carers have continuously raised their voices outlining the many problems they face, about resources, finances, respite and/or equipment.

Yet no matter how much they chipped away at the brick wall no real action has been taken, by past and present govts. Campaigns have followed one after the other from many individuals, groups, and charities.

We are currently witnessing the biggest shake up of welfare benefits in over 60 years and still the issues surrounding Carers Allowance are not being addressed.  It is the LOWEST of all benefits at £55.55  per week.

As campaigners we will not give up even though the brick wall is now made of re enforced steel. Behind that wall lies a Coalition machine made from cold steel too. It shows NO understanding, NO compassion. It operates so clinically, so precise and its actions prove that it has no heart.

It speaks of Responsibility, Big Society, yet continues on its mission to persecute many disabled people, their families, and carers, with this current Welfare Reform Bill.

Is this the future we want for ourselves, for our children?

A future where disabled people and their families are battered from all directions.

Borrowing the famous words from Winston Churchill and altering them slightly…

Never has so much been given so freely by so few, for the benefit of so many.

 Carers need action and they need it NOW

 Please contact any groups/charities you belong to. Tell them your concerns surrounding Welfare Reform.

Contact your MP . Add your postcode in the box on this link to find their details

Feel free to use this template from Sue Marsh of The Broken of Britain

Support the Hardest Hit campaign which following on from a successful march in May 2011 are now planning local protests.

One simple change re ESA

As individuals any action we take may seem so small, but collectively we can be stronger.

CarerWatch Discussion Forum Taken Down

21 August 2011
22nd August
Letter to Atos Legal Department
We are sorry to have to announce that the CarerWatch discussion forum is currently unavailable and that we cannot get in touch with all members for the moment.
We have been informed by our hosting company that we are under threat of legal action by ATOS and have therefore been taken down.
As we were not contacted directly by ATOS and have received no complaints we are unaware of any issues causing concerns.
We will therefore be writing to ATOS to try and resolve this problem.
Any updates will be posted here and if any members would like to hear more about what is happening please contact us at
Meanwhile don’t worry – the group will soon be back – and you can continue to discuss issues on this blog, our Facebook page and Twitter

What does the future hold for family carers?

8 August 2011

Can we afford to ignore family carers?

Care provided by them is a necessity and will be even more so as the population ages.  Plus as medicine breakthroughs continue and many people with disabilities and illnesses will live longer, the country will rely even more on the foundation that family carers provide.  They are a group of people who provide a vital service, yet governments, past and present, have taken them for granted, have taken their love for granted.

In this present economic climate we are already witnessing many cutbacks within Local Authorities:

  • Care criteria being tightened
  • Day centres closing
  • Respite allocations reducing in many areas
  • Meals on wheels costs increasing dramatically
  • Care package costs increasing
  • Transport for disabled people either stopping or priced out of reach
  • Carers’ grants under threat

…………… and so the list could go on.

Yet through all this, the one thing that remains constant is the love and support given freely by families. They provide a foundation that would be a great folly for any government to ignore.

We recognise that many carers want to return to/remain in work, and realise that any support given to them is vital.

However we cannot, and must not, ignore full-time carers.  Failing to recognise their input is storing up even further trouble for the future by placing added pressure on already stretched Social Services departments and the NHS.

Carer Watch were pleased to learn in the publication of the Welfare Reform Bill that Carers Allowance will remain outside the proposed Universal Credit. Along with many others we campaigned long and hard for this. However Carers Allowance has always been completely inadequate and carers still seem to be overlooked and forgotten as other benefits are changed around them in the biggest shake up of our benefit system in over 60 years.

To date, the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, Mr Iain Duncan Smith, and his department, have maintained silence as to their intentions re:CA. Leaving it outside the proposed UC is not enough. They need to address the problems that have surrounded this benefit for far too long.

There have been many campaigns over the years by various organisations (see notes below) all asking for the same – the reform of Carers Allowance – to remove the restrictions therein and also to increase the monetary pittance that CA is.
In the report Breakthrough Britain (2007) from the Social Justice Policy Group (policy recommendations to the Conservative Party) it was recommended –

 doubling the carers allowance to £90 a week because of the vast amounts carers save the taxpayer by looking after their sick and elderly relatives at home and not relying on the state to care for them.

Other measures would need to be put in place to ensure that families claiming other benefits/premiums were no worse off.

The report also states –  

Family carers are undervalued in our society and receive a disproportionately low level of financial support given the many hours of work that they do.

We cannot and must not allow this opportunity to fully reform CA to pass us by.

Carers are used to words of praise, more of which can be heard here from David Cameron but it is NOT enough. No matter how much understanding he says the Coalition has, no matter how many times he says Thank you, it is NOT enough.

Carers need action and they need it now


Carer Watch campaigns    

National Pensioners Convention      

Carers UK         

Daily Mirror

Age UK – Invisible but invaluable

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