I know – it’s been one of those weeks. I’ve missed Monday Night inspiration again – mostly because this week has been full of stress and worry – but things are finally settling down again and I’m not feeling as bad as I did earlier in the week. For a start, I’ve signed on as a job-seeker but am unable to actually claim JSA (no national insurance contributions, and my partner earns just enough so that I don’t qualify), so I’ve lost half of my earnings. When I was younger, my Mum claimed what is now known as incapacity benefit (but which used to be something other than that, some kind of ‘disability support’ thing, rather than saying ‘incapable of work’) for me.
I’ve used this benefit to support myself through my education, getting a degree and so on. It has helped me to focus on my studies and be financially independent. However, the government have been tampering with benefits for disabled people over the past few years, and I can understand changing the system over to something more helpful – which is what ESA (Employment Support Allowance) – was meant to be. Instead, I was found ineligible for it, despite the fact that it would have been helpful for me to be supported into work with specialist support. So, I find myself signing on at the Jobcentre, which isn’t a pleasant place to be – the advisors are a weird bunch. Apart from a couple of helpful and enthusiastic people, for the most part it mirrors a lot of Jobcentres across the UK – depressing, scary places that make you feel disheartened. Especially for people who feel nervous and probably need a variety of specialist support – interview training, money for training courses – such as myself. I had been hoping to get some kind of interview training, since I’m quite a shy and awkward person when it comes to formal interviews. Then there is of course the fact that I want to train to become a proofreader and editor – and the courses I’ve been looking at are expensive (but essentially they are recognised as the best).
I’ve been getting some freelance work here and there, which is fantastic because I’ve had some very interesting experiences and been able to write about them – yet at the same time, so much of the editing and journalist work out there calls for more experience than I actually have. So it is a bit of a vicious circle, even though I’m determined not to give up and prove everyone wrong that disabled people don’t want to work – of course we do! We just don’t get the right kind of support to help us into work. Then when the government and jobcentres take essential money away from us – we are expected to know what we are doing. For some people, it is terrifying to be thrust into the world of work without some kind of buffer.
This week I’ve felt in turns frustrated at my lack of income, upset about how little work there is out there right now (the economy), and how small the pool of work becomes when I take into account how much experience some of these jobs are asking for. Yet my sister, parents and partner have been brilliant – encouraging me to keep writing, keep looking for writing and journalism jobs as well as editing jobs, and apply for those that I might even just have a fraction of being qualified for. I guess what I wanted to say was – if you’re in this situation, please don’t give up. The government is a mess, but that doesn’t mean we should give up our dreams because we’re panicked about what to do next. Take a deep breath and make an action plan. Visualise where you want to see yourself and how you think you can get there. Think about your skills and what skills you need to get where you want to be. If you need training – then find a way to get that training or experience. Just don’t give up. I know money is a huge pressure, but at the same time, life is bigger than that. I’m either going to end up doing part time work and freelance writing, or a full time writing job. Its going to be a hard few months but I won’t let it bring me down.
I’m also furious at the fact that disabled people have been labelled ‘scroungers’ by the media. The whole thing stinks of discrimination. The only reason that these benefits are available is because it brings income up to the same level as people who are not disabled (for lack of a better way to describe it). If someone is incapable of certain kinds of work, then the pool of jobs will be smaller. The whole thing is that the people who really are claiming benefits fraudulently are getting away with it, whilst the people who are entitled to them are being demonised. I need extra help to access work – notetakers, palantypists, interpreters, captions, subtitles, transcriptions, special equipment (minicoms, flashing/vibrating alert systems, neck loops, etc etc) – all these things cost money and in order for me to access work on the same level as hearing people do, I need to get the money from somewhere. Fortunately we are very lucky in this country to be able to get support from the government. I don’t think there is anything wrong with admitting you need that support, and it frustrates and angers me that people have to constantly justify claiming DLA, for example.
Anyway, so yeah. It’s been one of those weeks. I’m feeling a bit better after an afternoon of laughing with my sister and Mum, and I’m looking forward to an evening with Dan watching Star Wars Episode 3. Basically, we’re working our way through the entire Star Wars saga (Episode 1-Episode 6), because we’re cool like that. The following photos are not this weeks, but the previous week, which is the week that I’ve missed. On Monday I’ll resume the usual state of affairs for this week! Have a great weekend, whatever you’re doing…
Dream the world. Not this pallid shadow of reality. Dream the world the way it truly is. A world in which all cats are queens and kings of creation. That is my message. And I shall keep moving, keep repeating it, until I die. Or until a thousand cats hear my words, and believe them, and dream, and we come again to paradise. ~ The visionary cat, in SANDMAN #18: “A Dream of a Thousand Cats” by Neil Gaiman