A run of bad luck leaves one man struggling to make sense of the UK benefits system. Very soon he is left with no income and at risk of losing the roof over his head. Can he find his way through a bafflingly complex maze of rules? Put yourself in his shoes.
Your name is Tony Rice. You’re the sort of bloke who gets along with everyone. Always making people laugh. Ever since you left school you’ve been in and out of all sorts of jobs. Manual labour, mostly – builder, dustman, crane driver, painter and decorator. Hawker Siddeley, the aerospace company – you like it there, until the factory shuts.
You split up with your girlfriend so you ask your mum to put you up until you can sort out a flat. Save a few quid. You’re very close to your mum and dad. They’re your best friends, really. Your dad has lung cancer and needs a bit of looking after. You take him for a drive most days because he doesn’t like staying in all the time. He’s like you, not a man to sit about. At one time he worked three jobs, all at once. Still does half an hour each morning in the garden.
So you’re back in the council house in Chingford, north-east London, that you’ve
An activist has told a Labour conference fringe meeting how her attempts to secure the support she needed after becoming disabled left her feeling “like a human pinball”.
Catherine Scarlett became disabled four years ago, and has faced an “incredibly steep learning curve” in finding out “what support is available and how to get it”.
She told the fringe event, which was hosted by Scope and the Fabian Society and focused on the extra costs of disability, how it was only receiving disability living allowance (DLA) that allowed her to fund the manual wheelchair with powered wheels that she needed.
Last year, she said, she faced “quite frightening” disability-related costs of more than £10,000.
She said: “If it hadn’t been for DLA payments I would not have had the money in the bank to get the wheelchair; I wouldn’t have been able to carry on working.
“I managed to carry on working for a year after I got it. It gave me back my life. It means I can get around independently.”
But she said that coalition spending cuts to working-age DLA, introduced as part of the move to the new personal independence payment (PIP), needed to be reversed.
She said the PIP process was “designed to stop people getting benefits. It is taking away the money that they need to lead independent lives.”
She said: “I have heard from so many people who have lost their independence because they have lost their ability to have [a Motability vehicle].
“They cannot work because they have lost their ability to get out of their houses. Those people need to be given their independence back. It is totally wrong.”
Scarlett said that having to deal with DLA – and later apply for PIP – employment and support allowance, wheelchair services, hospital departments, social services and the council’s housing department had left her feeling like “a human pinball bounced around by all different departments”.
She is also taking her employer to an employment tribunal, after facing three years of “really severe disability discrimination at work”.
Scarlett, now a town councillor in Driffield, said: “I feel like in the last three years my life has been scripted by Kafka; it’s been going from bizarre to even more bizarre.”
Teen with Asperger’s reveals what sensory overload REALLY feels like… and says even leaving the house can be ‘trippy’
Louis Morel, 17 from London, describes what sensory overload feels like
Two-minute film a collaboration with animator Philip Davies
Film begins with Louis admitting: ‘I have freaked out so many specialists’
Teenager says: ‘Every time I see a new human being I get overloaded’
A teenager with Asperger’s syndrome has provided a glimpse into life with his condition in a new animated film, admitting ‘sometimes you want to crawl up into a ball and die’.
Louis Morel, 17, from London, describes how it feels to experience sensory overload in the two-minute cartoon and describes it as both ‘trippy’ and ‘confusing’.
He also explains that merely stepping out the house or being faced with someone new can overload him with information, which he likens to listening to lots of music tracks all at the same time.
The teenager says: ‘I’m inhumanly good at self intelligence tests, but every time I leave the house or see a new human being I get overloaded with all the information that is there.’
The two-minute film called The Magic of Louis Morel was made in collaboration with myVoice – an online space for young adults with autism to connect and discuss issues set up by autism charity Ambitious About Autism.
The film, which is accompanied by a sketchy cartoon in dark hues, begins with Louis admitting: ‘I have freaked out so many specialists you have no idea.’
Describing the condition in simple terms he says: ‘It mostly revolves round one part of the brain getting overdeveloped and another part of the brain being underdeveloped.
‘Its a very extreme belt of options – unfortunately I landed on the more extreme end.
‘My brain gets insanely analytical about all the eccentricities of the skin and how the eyes look – and all the flipping details!’ he says.
In an attempt to describe how it feels to experience sensory overload he says: ‘Think of a song you really like… and you think this is really nice.
‘Then another layer is added on to it and then another layer and then another song starts playing and another song starts playing… until you want to crawl up into a ball and die.’
He also adds: ‘Car journeys drive me insane. Visually, it hurts like hell.’
Going to church is also off the agenda for Louis. ‘The echo drives me mad,’ he says.
‘A lot of sensory stuff I just ignore because it’s like, “This is trippy and confusing. I’d rather this isn’t happening to me”.’
The teenager collaborated with animator Philip Davies (AKA Battlecat) on the project, which he describes as ‘a brief summary of some of the extreme and trippy sensory stuff I have to deal with’.
But the teenager also points out: ‘Asperger’s syndrome is a very varied condition and I think what I have is rare among that, so bear in mind not everyone with Asperger’s syndrome will necessarily suffer from things like this.’
Last week Danielle Jacobs, who has Asperger’s syndrome, posted a video showing what a ‘meltdown’ looks like and how her dog Samson helps to calm her down. The clip has now been viewed over five million times.
Not to be confused with a tantrum or bad behaviour, meltdowns typically occur as a response to feeling overwhelmed. This is also known as ‘sensory overload’.