Sunday, 7 November 2010

Jools' Story

In 1994 I fancied something different after living in London all my life and doing numerous jobs, in newspapers, clubs, pubs hotels and pet shops just to name a few. I saw an advert for Butlins in North Wales and applied. At the same time my soon to be husband was fed up living where he was and with life in general and so we ended up working in the leisure industry.
We both loved the work and after a brief break returned in 1995 for our second season. We both did numerous jobs on camp I was a chalet maid walking miles in a day up and down camp carrying supplies and checking with customers all was well, also worked on the amusement park shies standing all day sometimes for 14 hours encouraging people to play and win prizes. My soon to be hubby was on the fair, chairlift, handyman and gardener.
In 1995 we started dating and were married very soon. We moved off camp as I became pregnant and we could not have a child in staff accommodation. My husband carried on working at Butlins as I stayed home to raise our son. Then Butlins changed to Haven and they laid off loads of staff and as you had to speak Welsh to work anywhere other than on camp we decided to move to find work.
We decided we would get housing quicker in my Husbands home town so moved there in 99 and within days of arriving my husband had found a job. In between working and overtime he also worked on the house where he dug up the front gardens crazy paving and made a 3 story dry stone wall in a weekend. I would do all the housework and shopping walking miles to the shop after dropping my son at nursery and then getting home to unpack in time to collect my son from his afternoon session.
This continued until my Husband had a terrible accident at work due to no health and safety. His company wouldn't pay sick pay so we were left to cope on £62pw SSP. For almost a year my husband was left in agony bent sideways unable to lie down to sleep so would sit up all night. I eventually forced him to see another doctor and within a week he was in hospital having a disc removed from his back and being informed he would need a fusion operation to strengthen his back and would never work again.
In 2002 I became pregnant again and was so drained and sore all the time, I blamed the pregnancy and was sure once I had given birth I would perk up again. Sadly that was not the case and I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia/CFS in 2003. During all of this both children and my Husband were diagnosed with ASD's, dyspraxia and my daughter is hypermobile also.
My husband suffered terrible depression after his accident as he had always been a hard worker and felt pride in providing for his family. So he has now got to take medication for his back as well as depression and paranoia. My fibromyalgia/CFS has progressed so I can no longer walk any distance and use a mobility scooter. Both children are home schooled because of bullying due to their Autism.
We have been called retards by the neighbours. We have had people abuse us on Facebook because I dared to say I was worried about the cuts in benefits. But worse than all of this we have a lifetime on benefit to look forward to through no fault of our own. Our children's doctor referred up to Social Services for help and we were told we didn't meet the criteria. So I saved my DLA to by a mobility scooter, and then to adapt the bathroom.
We rely on the money we receive to pay to have things done that neither of us are able to do anymore, like gardening, window washing etc. We are not languishing on benefit like the government and media would like people to believe we are just surviving day by day. We have no family or friends to support us and are terrified of the future. I won't be surprised if they bring back the workhouse and gruel. People keep saying they don't want to pay taxes so we can languish on benefit but forget the taxes that a lot of us paid in for years as well. Some days I wish we had stayed in Wales we would never be in this state now.

1 comment: said...

I sympathise Jools - the derision with which we're treated - the indignity we have to suffer to be heard and helped. My inherited Degenerative Spine Disease went undiagnosed and I struggled for four painful and debilitating years, which has precipitated ME and Fibromyalgia. I'm a qualified painter and decorator, I've also worked in IT. I haven't had in benefits yet, won't for a long time, what I paid in tax and NI when I was healthy! My health problems started when I gave up work to look after Mum full time - the money I saved the system while I banged my head against the wall trying to get us housed together so I could look after her better. The debt I got into - I was evicted from my flat - I was hardly ever there anyway, slept on Mum's sofa alot - my life is a shadow of what it once was. Without adequate housing and community support I'm not going to be able to go back to school, train to be a teacher and become a tax payer again. I've been looking for somewhere suitable to live for three years - I'm in a first floor (no lift) flat so I can't store or use an electric wheelchair. Even with intervention from a social worker (who I had for only three months) and the local MP, the council said I could only bid on a disabled adapted bungalow if I was over 55 or mentally ill. I'm 36, clinically depressed with nuisance neighbours upstairs (wake me with the washer on spin, hoover and unholy thudding 5-7.30am most mornings) - mental illness is not far away. How I'm going to recover from spinal surgery in this environment I don't know - if I was in Jackson from Emmerdale's situation, I'd be looking toward Switzerland. I can't take this merciless persecution of disabled people, in the media and in the community - soaps and documentaries are the only things starting to paint the truer picture. I'm dying inside and those morons upstairs think I'm having the time of my life not working, I'm sure that's why they behave in this way. If it all goes wrong on the operating table don't know how I will cope either. I think it's a conspiracy - they're hoping we'll succumb to the despair and all do away with ourselves - I become more certain that's the case with each passing day. I hope things improve for you and your family Jools, the same hope for all of you out there, fighting to be validated by an increasingly unsymathetic establishment.