From The Guardian: When Jill White, 53, was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2013, she had three years of treatment, including operations and chemotherapy. It was a stressful enough experience to go through, but White, who is single and doesn’t drive, also faced a four-hour round trip, on a good day, to get to a hospital that was only 13 miles away, because buses from her village of Tatworth, Somerset only run on average every two hours.
“My appointments were often at 9am, so to get to Taunton hospital I would have to leave by 7am,” she says. “And then, even though I would be really tired after treatment, I faced another two-hour trip to get home again. Four hours was a good journey. It could have quite easily been a lot longer.”
White says the service used to be quite good. “When I first moved here 20 years ago, there was a bus every hour, evening, weekend and bank holiday – and they were reasonably punctual. Now they are often 30 minutes late, there are no buses on Sundays or bank holidays – and nothing after 6pm.” White’s situation is far from unique. A report last week by the Campaign for Better Transport (CBT) found that local authority funding for bus routes in England and Wales has been cut by 45% since 2010 and more than 3,000 routes reduced or scrapped. This prompted the Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn, to raise the bus issue in parliament during last week’s prime minister’s questions, where he promised to “save” the bus industry and give all those aged under 26 free bus travel.
From Daily Mirror: A tearful man who arrived in Britain in 1958 has told how he was barred from attending his mum’s funeral in the UK. Junior Green’s story is one of a string of heartbreaking cases shared by the ‘Windrush generation’ today as pressure mounts on the government.
[Read article on Mirror website…]
From The Guardian: A House of Commons inquiry into disability benefits has heard from more than 3,000 people in despair at the system, including dozens who say they have been driven to suicidal thoughts by the process.
The evidence includes testimony from many saying their mental health had deteriorated as a result of trying to claim the employment support allowance (ESA) for daily living costs and/or the personal independence payment (PIP) to cover the extra costs caused by long-term disability.
It comes after longstanding concerns among mental health groups, medical professionals, user groups and MPs about the operation of both benefits, which see claimant assessments run by outsourced providers and final decisions made by officials at the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).
The submissions included more than 100 people reporting that they or someone they care for feels their suicidal feelings have worsened or been triggered by the process. Read more
Samuel K uses his video camera and Facebook to ask “Why are so many people in the UK struggling to get by?” Topics he covers include rough sleeping, food banks, childhood poverty, spiralling house prices, the public sector pay cap, and #AllInItTogether.
The 3½ minute video has been viewed over 360,000 times.
From The Guardian: Daniel O’Connor, 64, from Glasgow, has led a tough life. He has severe depression and adjustment disorder, and has twice attempted to end his life. O’Connor had been receiving DLA for nearly 22 years when, this year, his application for a PIP was rejected. Since then, he has experienced financial hardship and says his condition has worsened. O’Connor says he felt as if he wasn’t being listened to at his PIP assessment and recalls telling the assessor that on some days he struggles to get out of bed because his depression is so debilitating. However, his assessor dismissed his story, citing the fact that he could drive as evidence of his ability to carry out everyday tasks. “We got to discussing a previous suicide attempt I had [made],” he says.
Kelly tells the BBC she applied for Universal Credit two weeks ago, and has been told her first payment will be on 28th October. She has no money at all. She says: “It’s a lot of weeks to wait. I’m relying on food banks. My friends have had to wait 12 weeks.”
Gail says: “I knew that it would be at least six weeks before I got any money. I knew I’d be without money… [Debt] ruins your life. It spirals out of control so fast when you’re in debt.”
[View video on BBC Online…]
A personal story sent in over the recent Bank Holiday weekend by a #StopTheTories Channel reader who doesn’t want to be named…
“I’m on universal credit. I’m currently unable to work, same with my partner, and we have a 3-year-old son and are expecting our next just after Christmas.
“We only get £723 in benefits between the three of us for a month. We tend to spend that on food, gas and electric for the month on the day we get it and are usually left struggling by the last week or so before our next benefit payment.
“I’ve recently had to sell most of my possessions just to get us through those last weeks. We’ve got nothing left to sell and our refrigerator broke down during the night on Monday. We were able to salvage the frozen food but all fridged goods were lost. As a result we currently haven’t eaten [for nearly three days] (we have food for our child). Read more
North Kensington resident Ishmahil Blagrove is one of many expressing anger in the aftermath of the West London fire. He talks to Channel 4 News.
Charlotte Cornwell writes in to The Stage: “What a transparent and two-faced excuse for a government that is all too aware that, when local authorities have faced cuts of up to 40% in central government funding – while at the same time being made to take responsibility for increasing items central government now refuses to fund – the arts are always the first to suffer savage cuts.”
[Read full letter on The Stage website…]
Disability activist and writer Fiona Robertson writes on Commonspace: “When I and my fellow disability activists woke up on the morning after the last General Election, we spent an unrelenting few days tag teaming as we tried to keep people in our community alive. We were not always successful. Over and over, hour after hour, we saw iterations of the same message: ‘I do not think I will survive this government.’
“There were 30,000 extra deaths in England and Wales in 2015 as a result of cuts to health and social care, according to research by Oxford University. There were hundreds of suicides by the very lowest estimates, though we who spend our days working with people who are struggling to survive this government know there are more which aren’t counted; that there are many, many deaths because the stress and fear and pain and malnutrition and isolation exacerbated a person’s condition to the point of lethality. Read more
From The Canary: Tracey Culham said using food banks is “the most degrading thing”, especially when “you’ve worked all your life”. Her intervention on national television is a glimpse of the reality for many under the Conservative austerity programme.
The Conservative government is directly responsible for pushing ordinary people into food poverty. The number of three-day food packages sent out by the Trussell Trust alone increased from 40,898 to 1,182,954 between 2010 and 2016-17. That’s a record-breaking increase of 2,792% since the Conservatives came to power.
But it’s worse than that. A report by the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Hunger estimates that over half the emergency food issued comes from organisations independent from the Trussell Trust’s figures. This means the real numbers are much higher.