Saturday, 19 February 2011

Dear Mr Mundell...

Mr Mundell replied on 21/02/11. Thank you to all who passed this on.

On the 17th of November last year I emailled your office as a constituent of yours.
This is my original email;

I grow more and more worried by the proposed benefits cuts for those
people like myself who are unable to work at all. I have M.E,
diagnosed as such in the late '80s and although there have been long
periods of time since then that I have been able to work, or had the
support of someone who was able to work I am currently not fit for
work. My situation is such now that I will probably never be able to
hold down a job, and trying to do so would worsen my condition to such
an extent as to make me more of a drain on the NHS than I am currently
on the benefits system.

I get no official outside help looking after myself, and looking for
someone to become a full time carer for me is necessary and has been a
constant concern since my daughter left home to attend college in
August. It is now well nigh impossible for me to find that care as
carer allowances are under threat. I have no idea where to turn now to
find the help and care I need on a daily basis. I get no support
whatsoever from social services and haven't for a very long time. I
get no help in provision of aids to help me live independantly, no
offers of items that I need and can't afford to buy for myself. Not
even any help with getting out of the house and without much contact
with the outside world. If I am not fit enough to drive I simply
cannot get out of the house.

I worry constantly about how cuts in DLA and housing benefit will
affect my ability to live independantly. I am a 40 year old woman who
has struggled through thick and thin to maintain this level of
normality, through years of having benefits suddenly removed without
warning that amassed debts which I have only just managed to repay as
a result of getting my DLA reinstated after a 2 year fight that nearly
cost me my sanity as well as my health.

The thought that it is now about to start again is actually making me
cry. I can't face it again. I was just about back on an even keel and
now I'm facing yet more financial crisis.

How can I cope with being forced into the position of having to work
(which I simply can't do) or starve and loose my home? Where would I
go? How can I live? How on earth will I survive? This situation is
totally hopeless and I have lost all faith in any government helping
me. You as my MP have let me down in the past when I was facing crisis
and you didn't even bother to respond to my email. You are letting me
down again by not fighting tooth and nail to ensure that people like
me do not continue to slip further through the gaps in this ripped and
tattered net they call a 'welfare state'.

If I were to go into work I would have constant sick days. Constant
days where I would not be fit enough to drive myself into a place of
employment. Constant days where the pain killers I must take would
make me unfit to operate machinery. Constant days where I would do no
more than sleep and shiver and sweat and ache as a result of having to
do more than I am able to do. I would be sacked from any paid
employment and it would not be because I wasn't trying to do the job,
it would be because I am unable to.

I would dearly love to be able to work, earn money, have a career and
the self confidence and success that goes along with it. I know I am
not able to do so, I have accepted that. As depressing as it is for
someone intelligent and articulate to admit I can achieve no more than
I have achieved. When getting out of bed in the morning is like
climbing Everest small successes have to suffice.

For me right now my health is 'as good as it gets' and that isn't
good. I struggle to do the most basic tasks for myself and subsist on
the sporadic help of friends and neighbours. I have already been
abandoned by all other care professionals except for my GP, don't
abandon me when it comes to making sure that I get the money I need to
survive. I am not living a 24/7 party life here. I have had no
holidays in years. I exist on the most basic of food. My central
heating is set to 60 degrees so as to keep my heating bills down to a
level I can nearly manage. I have few luxuries. You would be welcome
to visit me in my home and see what I've managed to carve out for
myself after several years of susbsistance level living.

Don't take this last shred of any hope of a life away from me.

I recieved a response From a secretary working in Mr Mundell's office, this is what she wrote;

I am not aware of you being in touch with us previously and I cannot locate your name in any of my previous files so I can only sincerely apologise that you did not receive a response to your previous email requests.

Below is some information regarding where you might find some of the extra support that you require, if not I hope it gives you a start at least: - Dumfries and Galloway ME Network - M.E Association Scotland

Care and Repair Services which can help with the supply of aids and adaption’s to home owners and private tenants and can be accessed through a referral from Occupational Therapy is the way to take this forward.

Home heat Helpline 0800 33 66 99 – help for vulnerable customers

And finally your local Citizens Advice may be able to assist you further with regard to getting the best heating tariff and making sure you are getting all the benefits and help you are entitled to.

I hope I have been of some help but if there is anything further specific that I can do then please do not hesitate to call or email me directly. As I said David receives hundreds of emails per day so emailing me directly will speed up your response.

Kind regards

I was astounded - this patronising young woman had clearly not understood a word of what I had been trying to ask of my MP. I was totally furious and that anger made me produce more words per minute than I have managed in a very long time;

The M.E association in D&G and the ME association in Scotland (with
whom I have been involved for years) cannot cure my condition and make
me fit for work. Nor can they vote against the benefit cuts. My MP is
the only one who can do that.

My local citizen's advice have assisted me in fighting to have my DLA
reinstated. I am claiming all I am entitled to. They can't stop the
benefit cuts that mean that my financial situation will once again go
to hell in a handbasket. Unfortunately the unit that deals with making
sure that people aren't 'fuel poor' has been cut due to lack of
funding. My MP is the one who can take action to help make sure that
these services are not cut further.

I pay as little as is humanly possible for all my utilities. The
problem is that I don't have enough money because the benefits I
already get are not adaquate and are ABOUT TO BE CUT FURTHER. My MP is
the only one who can take action on my behalf on this matter.

Home Heat is a great service for those that rely on gas and
electricity. I rely on coal, logs and heating oil. unless that service
has changed since my last contact with them, they can't help me.

Care and repair services cannot provide me with transport to and from
a pool for the hydrotherapy my GP prescribed for me 4 years ago which
I cannot attend as transport is not provided. Care and repair services
can't do my housework, or help me dress or bathe. Care and repair
services can't make me a cup of tea and help me drink it when I can't
sit up. Care and repair services can't help me. If they could I would
have no care needs. I have been referred to the OT yet again, I have
been waiting for a month for an appointment so far. Care and repair
can't help with that either. My MP is the man who can take action on
my behalf and try to get this changed.

How dare you presume that I know so little about my condition and the
help that you believe is out there for me. I have gone though all of
these channels. The care and support I require is NOT AVAILABLE TO ME.
If it were I would not have written to my MP.

My major concerns that you have not addressed is that benefits are
being axed. I'm facing a fight to prove once again that I cannot work,
assessments which I am 'planned to fail' and a withdrawal of benefit.
I am not recieving the care I need at the moment and further cuts mean
that this will only get worse. You have addressed none of these
concerns and to be blunt if I had wanted to speak to a secretary I
would have written to one. I wanted to speak to my MP - the man who
supposedly represents me - and have these real issues addressed.

What really annoys me is the cheerful 18th birthday card my daughter
recieved from Mr Mundell, trying to be ever so nice in order to buy
her vote. What has he ever done to help me OR my daughter through all
the years she was my unpaid carer?

It would be best perhaps if you didn't respond. I would however like
this email to be passed to him as well as my original. I'll take my
chances waiting for Mr Mundell to get back to me. I'm even less
inclined to vote for him now.

She replied, as patronising as ever, promising that I would indeed get a response from Mr Mundell. I have not as yet received that response some THREE MONTHS later.

So Mr Mundell, I've published this correspondence with your office in the hope that some publicity might make you respond. I shouldn't have to do this - I am one of your constituents, I do have the right to your attention.

Will you help me now?


  1. *sigh*
    All so familiar, all so depressing, all such a struggle.
    I'm so sorry, but at least know that at last, I believe sick and disabled people are forming a strong voice that will soon be heard.
    Keep writing. It's very well laid out and powerful. I'll link to my "Interesting articles"

  2. Thank you, feel free to link and repost where ever you need if it will help. I'm rolling up my sleeves and sharpening my pen. I do have the ability to write and put a point of view over so I'm intending to use it on behalf of those who can't.

  3. The way your MP's office replied sounds a tad familiar. I sent a letter to my MP asking for his support on the proposed replacing of DLA with PIP. His reply suggested I should have been contacting the DWP instead!

  4. I wonder if we could actually trust any of them to sit the right way round on a loo or run a bath. I imagine it's a case of "too long; didn't read" and they toss out a generic response rather than take the time to do the job they chose to do.

  5. I had a reply from my MP in email about 2 or 3 weeks ago. I haven't been brave enough to read it yet as stress is not good for conditions such as we have. I have been overwhelmed with getting finally a little bit of help. I really must read it and see if he is actually being any way helpful and not simply patronising me now...

    I actually woke up questioning things about the assessments, which I am definitely renaming harassments after what I wrote on Sue's blog earlier...I'm also trying to get myself to ring the CAB I am lucky with the representation I have for my tribunal, when that ever happens...

    Your story is depressingly similar to mine...

    It is funny without all this need to justify how not fit for work we are we can concentrate on forgetting the symptoms as they revolve around in their particularly unpleasing merry go round. I forget how sometimes I can't even sit up without feeling sick, when I am dealing with the aches and pains of using my hands to prepare food, open packages, take lids off things, communicate via typing and journalling to keep a balance on my mental health, which quite frankly could be completely out of control if I focus too much on reality of being treated like a piece of the people who are supposedly there to help people like me.

    Sorry ranting a bit now...hugs x

    And today's triumph I managed to prepare a proper meal today, yesterday I had ready brek, which is sometimes too strenuous to prepare...I could just cry all the time but I am too stubborn for that.

  6. If a fit and healthy person has a bout of the 'flu or a heavy cold and there's no other stress factors, then that cold or 'flu passes reasonably quickly. GPs will tell you this, people recognise the truth in this.

    And yet when you or I say that our conditions react unkindly to stress, even those smaller stresses that a fit and healthy person could shrug off, on top of the stress we have as a result of having the illnesses we already have, we're looked at with that 'leper' look. You know the one - it's the one people shoot at me just before they make their excuses to get away from the crazy lady.

    The way we are forced to constantly justify the money we are getting does make it harder to focus out of the symptoms and concentrate on getting to the point where we can actually see improvement. It's really tough when any extra stress can tip us back to a point lower then where we were before, like Sisyphus and his rock.

    Preparing a proper meal is a triumph, networking with folk who lessen the stress is a necessity, having the strength to reassure Dog that you are not about to keel over and leave him by a good old fashioned ear rub is a triumph - at least in my case it is for him - and we can't spare any spoons for other people's stupidity, spoons are too precious to waste on that.

    If I get a reply from my MP I'm actually not expecting it to make any difference to me or the disability bill as currently being looked at. I wasn't actually expecting anything more than I got based on the last time I contacted him when I really did need him to do something to change what was happening to me within the system. If you do manage to scrape together the spoons to read the reply from your MP at some point and it is similar to the one I got, remember you're actually no worse off than you were before you contacted them.

    Keep on keeping on and stay positive

  7. My mp is good for a Tory but I'll reserve judgment until he gets back the £54 per week i have just lost and i think we are all going to have to fight this together the regime here is as bad as in the middle east it doesn't matter how you die be it from a bullet a knife or just causing untold stress a life lost is a life lost at the end of the day and like in the middle east it's got to stop

  8. Why the hell should we pay for you to lounge at home all day writing self-pitying blogs about how you are no longer "entitled" to receive money from people who do get out of bed each day to work. Even with ME, which has exploded in recent years, you can make money by doing things like trading on eBay, for example.
    This is what makes me sick about benefit scroungers. I don't like working either but I have to pay for the council tax, the income tax, upkeep of my house, holidays, nursery fees etc. out of my own pocket. You're providing nothing for this country, yet you want other people to pay for the street lighting, to fight crime, to provide you with healthcare, to pay all your bills for you. We need to restrict benefits to people who genuinely can't work e.g. they are dying of cancer or aids, not for people who've broken their fingernail or are suffering from illnesses which nobody had ever heard of, 30 years ago.

  9. I wish I were lounging about in bed. I am usually either sleeping shaking with fever or throwing up but if you're willing to pay for the hospital care that I and the folk I crash into trying to get to a post office will need I'll try selling on ebay.

    I hope you never get an illness that wasn't heard of 30 years ago. Like HIV.

  10. Two words, James Dey, "retrovirus" and "epidemic". Pillock.

  11. How can anyone come on here and post that? James Day, shame on you.

    Why the hell should we pay for you to lounge at home all day writing self-pitying blogs about how you are no longer "entitled" to receive money from people who do get out of bed each day to work.
    Look at JK Rowling. If you can write fiction and create a blog like this, you have many skills that would enable you to earn a living instead of scrounging of those more motivated to go out and work.

  13. I bet you go to work when you have an infection or the you are so motivated...actually I used to go to work and uni when I had bad infections because even when I was able to I was still often well below par but people without compassion tend to think this way.

  14. I am so sorry to hear of all these troubles, not least because such troubles will soon be visited upon me and my wife (both disabled). We are not economically active, and we are a drain on the 1% who think everything is really theirs. I think they want us dead, and they are already building the death camps in which we will die. The death camp is where I live, in my room; whoever you may be, it is in your flat, it is where you struggle to carry on with life's burdens. If there is no benefit for the 1%, then it must be got rid of; if there is no profit for the multi-millionaires running the country, or for their families and friends, then destroy it. We are a resource for the richest 1% to exploit, and if we cannot make them richer by being alive, then they will cut their losses and do away with us. One name for the executions that are already starting is Excess Winter Deaths, the deaths of those who cannot afford to keep themselves warm. I plan to ask my GP how low my weight can go before I am in trouble, because to be sure, I will not be able to afford to eat AND keep my wife warm when the changes come. God help us all.

  15. Daniel I'm so sorry to hear of your own problems. We do have some hope, given to us by the efforts of campaigners like Sue Marsh, Kalia Franklin & Dr Campbell who collated the 'Spartacus Report' and got it delivered to most of the members of both housrs of parliament. You and your wife are not alone. If you have access to Twitter you can interact with all of us, and even in a small way help spread awareness of our plight. Alone we whisper, together we shout. Hope is not dead, wounded certainly, but thanks to campaigners just like you and I we are beginning to be heard. Please excuse the typing, and I'm not sure which account this will post under, but I am using my phone to respond from bed. Having a 'normal' day where I can't get up.

    Feel free to follow me on Twitter. I'm Bekijane there.