Philosophy of The Big Society

David Cameron gets to be God!

Tuesday, 25 August 2009

Letter to MP..about personal and wider issues

Won't go on about it..will just copy it..think it speaks for itself.

Dear Mr Selous

I am writing for 2 reasons. Firstly, to update you on my father’s care. He is now in Townsend Court Psychiatric Unit and has been there for a few weeks. I have visited him on several occasions and kept daily contact. I have also been liasing with Chris Bradley-Rushe, up until his annual leave, and with another Director until his return.

My father is mostly morose and despairing but, at least, he is safe for the time being. He informed me that he is going to have ECT (as a kind of last resort) but need to check this with a senior member of Townsend Court staff. I have concerns about the ECT but I appreciate my father needs to make decisions about his treatment as fits his ability to do so (with support of MH staff) and will abide by what he thinks is best in this particular regard. I do however, have continuing concerns about his long term care and hope that these are also being looked into by mental health professionals. My father insists that he does not wish to return to his existing accommodation and I feel that for him to be made to return there might well lead to another suicide attempt. This, I believe, can and should be avoided.

My second reason for writing is the Government Green Paper on Care Reform. I am quite angry really that people with mental illness have been, and continue to be, mostly excluded from this consultation period. I only found out about it by a friend on the internet. When I spoke to other people I know with mental illness they had heard nothing about it and more importantly, the vast majority of them do not have computers or access to the consultation process. This means that many important views will be missed.

My own personal view, based on the quality of my life, is that Disability Living Allowance provides me with access to interests and support, I otherwise would not get. For example, I use my mobility allowance to get taxis to see my father and to get to appointments that must take place. I also use it to pay for the petrol when I need to get out or to pay for their bus fares on the rare occasion I have to use public transport. It does not fully cover these costs but it helps in part.

I was assessed as needing DLA not just because of the agoraphobia I suffer but because the assessment process included a quality of life aspect. It was deemed it would help me to be more involved in things. It certainly has enriched my life because I have used the money to buy seeds, plants and flowers for my garden and find tending these and sitting out in the garden very therapeutic. I also make cards…a hobby which I can do from home and with a friend, again, providing a therapeutic distraction from my illness and positive outlet.

I understand the debate around the care component but in all honesty, Mr Selous, DLA was, in essence, provided to stop the severely disabled being caught in poverty traps with no quality of life. For sure, I would have very little quality of life without DLA and my biggest fear is that it will get eaten up in a Social Services pot and people like myself, who have no contact with social services, will have no personal capacity to have any quality of life or appropriate care from that organisation. In fact, my experience of dealing with social services for my father is that they provided minimul support -15 minutes of a Private carer’s time each day (he has to pay for his meal service) and then discharged him from their care.

I think there are deeper issues than saving money from those who are already struggling financially. I appreciate that the country is in a financial mess but that is not the fault of the disabled and they should not suffer because of it. The deeper issue in regards to care is to do with the ability of the public sector to deliver the right care and when it is needed and my experience of it, is that without you, both myself and my father would not have any input from public services at all.

Apologies for swamping you but I get so sick of the negligence of services and lack of thought given when people are making decisions about mentally ill people, particularly as there are only a handful of us who seem to know what is intended for ‘our’ future.


Mandy Lawrence

Addendum...I forgot to write that if I lose DLA, I will not be able to afford to have an internet access and thus will be even more excluded from life!!!


  1. Hi Mandy,

    Great post about these issues.

    If you get time take a look at this link which will show you some of the replies received from groups/organisations several pages to read

    This link shows just a few of the many places online that these discussions are taking place.

    Although these are vague proposals we need raise our voices loud enough so they do not see the light of day in the future either.

    If, as an individual you would like your own opinions added to the blog, please email or add comments to any of the statements on there.

    We have been working alongside Benefits and Work site and will continue to do so.

    Also take a look at this from DLA Help group

    Does not instil much confidence does it?

  2. Hi Mandy,
    I'm glad you're keeping up the good fight re. the future of care green paper. I don't know if you already know this but the DWP officials who previously reassured us that DLA would not be affected have now retracted the statement meaning that the door is very much open to it being so.
    You might be happy to know that our organisation (Mental Health Citizens Advice) are in the process of lobbying MPs on this very issue. As you rightly point out, not only are claimants with mental health difficulties likely to be the most neglected in the new proposals but re-allocating funds to local authorities also critically deprives previous claimants of any lingering independance and autonomy when it comes to making decisions about their own care needs.
    If, in the unlikely event that we are priveleged with any less ambiguous informtion, i will send it your way.

  3. For Kate...

    Feel free to email with any statement you wish to make about these issues.It will be added to the blog mentioned in my last post.

  4. Hi Rosemary

    Thanks for posting. Will check out the carerwatch link.

    I am never reassured by possibilities until such time as they become fact (if the outcome or outcomes is/are positive). So when some official says 'these things are unlikely to happen'...I equate that to ...err on the side of caution and plan for the worst!

    Not that I can plan for losing DLA. That will mean a life in which I will struggle to cover the cost of living, let alone find any quality within it.

    Still, you really do have to fight the good fight because all it takes is doing nothing for the rot to set in.

  5. Hi Kate

    I am heartened that 'Mental Health Citizen's Advice' are going to be lobbying MPs.

    You know, I never knew there was such an organisation but is good that there is. What we need is more of these about the country - helping support those with mental health problems to negotiate around a system that is hazes and mirrors.

    It doesn't surprise me that the DWP have retracted previous reassurances around DLA. They are puppets and the masters pull their strings. The masters being the ones who will, given half the chance, stuff those with mental illness good and proper.

    Ho hum!

  6. Hi Rosemary

    If you are still reading blog and comments, I have shared my experiences and views on the carerwatch link. Not sure, as it is government led, that my experiences count for much. Will most probably be written off as some militant leftie lazy arse..but it's there.

    I don't think I will be doing too much more and certainly not in near future. I have aired my views and shared experiences in 3 places - other than going round in circles in my head - which, I think, is most probably more than enough from me.

    Exhales and attempts to relax :>)

  7. Hi Mandy,

    Did you mean you had posted it on the Care and Support site? Nothing from you on Carer Watch.

    Dont worry though.The fact you are raising these issues on your blog is great.

    Take care

  8. Hi Rosemary. I posted it on the site from link you gave me.

    Perhaps, as postings are monitored, it hasn't been allowed.

    Ah well...I tried

  9. Great post Mandy. Take care, and keep on fighting the good fight. Dx

  10. Thanks D

    Take care there :>)

  11. Some excellent points. Denying DLA to those who suffer from mental illness is counterproductive. Keeping sufferers of mental health problems saves money. A permanently hospitalized person without DLA is a lot more expensive than a person with DLA living out in the community.

  12. Hi Louise

    It is bizarre what is proposed but I think it is some ill thought out, easy cop out plan from the all seemingly easy cop outs will turn out really bad for ill people.