I haven’t had an anonymous post on here for a while, but today I am handing over the blog for a post which is heartfelt and emotional. Please be respectful of the content in comments guys, and remember, go vote today!
As I write this, it’s election day and it’s an emotional one for me, because when I cast my vote, I will be thinking of a special friend, who cared passionately about her vote too. Not just for her own sake, but for other’s. She would have voted today and she would have put the needs of the people she saw suffering at the forefront of her mind as she cast her vote.
My best friend didn’t have an easy life. A single mum to a teenage boy, she was also a carer to her mum for many years, until she died in 2013. As soon as she died, my best friend was expected to get a job and she wanted to get a job. After spending many years dedicating her life to her mother, she was looking forward to making a life for herself and making her son proud. But it was hard, because she had been out of work for so long, that her experience and qualifications were out of date. So, the government gave her barely enough to live on to ‘encourage’ her to try harder. She kept on trying, visiting the Job Centre every two weeks, where she received very little help with her job search. She even tried setting up her own business, but it was too hard to go from benefits to self-employment with no support, so that failed. Eventually she found a job in a local retail establishment, and a second one cleaning, because the first one didn’t pay enough to live on.
Shortly after, she slipped on the dangerous steps at her workplace on an icy day and broke her leg. She ended up back on benefits. Then Concentrix arrived and stopped her benefits for 7 weeks for ‘random checks’. Nothing was found, but in the meantime, she was relying on food banks and hand-outs from friends, sending her spiralling into depression. She ended up struggling with stress-induced asthma, which made her so sick, that she was taken into intensive care.
When she was released from hospital, she received woefully lacking follow-up care from the NHS. She lived in constant fear of further attacks, which became a regular thing, but when she rang her doctor, they couldn’t give her an appointment or made her wait for hours and feel like a nuisance. She was too sick to work and should have been able to claim a sickness benefit, but the system is complicated and demanding, not easy to navigate when you are trying to raise a son and survive day to day, because that’s all it was; surviving. By now her benefits had been reinstated, but the weeks of having nothing to live on had left her with crippling debt.
Her benefits were still barely enough to live on, though, as the government’s ‘encouragement’ strategy continued so, despite still having frequent asthma attacks and living in constant fear that each one would be her last, she found herself another job. Some days she had to take her nebuliser to work with her, but she kept going.
Then, on Sunday, she had a final asthma attack, which put too much strain on her heart and she died.
If the NHS wasn’t crippled under so much pressure, if the Government provided better support for the sick, if the unemployed were helped into work, instead of just being signed off each fortnight, if any agency had been able to support her, I firmly believe she could be alive today.