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Monthly Archives: November 2015

Why is David Cameron trying to rush this country, hell for leather, into battle? He calls it a war against terror but it isn’t, it’s the indiscriminate bombardment of innocent Syrian civilians dressed up as a pointless fight against Daesh.

Is that what we want? Not me, not in my name.

As far as I am concerned, all airstrikes will achieve is the death of many civilians unconnected with terrorism and the destruction of the towns and villages where these people try to live.

Only a few weeks ago we were all horrified by the pictures and the media coverage of the body of the little Syrian boy, Aylan Kurdi found drowned on the beach. Well, I hope we are all prepared to see more. I believe that all the aerial bombardment can achieve are more bodies of little children lying dead, blown apart by our missiles or lost in the Mediterranean as they, and their parents, try to flee and reach sanctuary in Europe.

Is that what we want? Not me, not in my name.  

What else will we achieve? Will it stop our teenagers and young people being radicalised? Will it prevent attacks on this, and on other, countries? As far as I am concerned, I don’t think it will. The adults who are trying to radicalise our young people are telling them that one of the reasons they need to fight is because we, in the West, hate people who follow the Muslim faith. All that bombing Syria will do is confirm that belief. All it will do is create martyrs. All it will do is give young people a reason, in their minds at any rate, to fight.

Is that what we want? Not me, not in my name.  

What about the idea that we need to fight to prevent terrorist attacks? Well, as far as I can see, bombing Syria is unlikely to make any difference to the terrorist agenda apart from exacerbating things. The terrorists who killed and maimed innocent people in Paris weren’t new immigrants. They weren’t brought into the country especially. They weren’t Syrian. They were French and Belgian. They were already there. And, I believe, that if we are going to be attacked in a similar way in this country the men and women who will do it are already here. They are already living amongst us and probably have been living here for a long time. Missile strikes and aerial bombardment in North Africa won’t stop them, if anything, it will make them more determined.   

Is that what we want? Not me, not in my name.  

Then there is the cost. The financial cost. How much are these missiles? Where is the money coming from? We’re being reminded almost daily by our Conservative Government that we are all living in a time of austerity. We are all experiencing cut after cut after cut. Cuts to our welfare benefits. Cuts to police numbers. Cuts to allowances for student nurses. Cuts to public services. Cuts everywhere. We are constantly being told that we need to save, that there is no more in the pot. So where Is this where the money for the missiles, missiles that many of us don’t want, coming from? Not the bankers and the politicians and the captains of industry, no, it’s coming from us.  

Is that what we want? Not me, not in my name.

Apparently we are all in this together. If that is supposed to mean that we are all prepared to go to war together, that we are all prepared to kill and maim innocent civilians together, that we are all prepared to be party to death and destruction together then, I for one, don’t agree. I don’t want any part of it.

Not me, not in my name.

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beyond bed

All of my current carers and most of my past agency carers have had English as a second language. Here are some of the issues I’ve faced.

I get the impression that my carers don’t always grasp the level of issues that their lack of englsih profficiency creates. It is of course possible that they have noticed and are embarrassed or prefer not to talk about it. I think sometimes this is the case, but often times they seem oblivious or think I am not being clear.  For example whilst giving people instructions I need to be quite specific, but the carers fail to realise that’s what I am doing. For example today the carer was looking in the front of a drawer. I said “Can you look in the rest of that drawer please?”. She closed the drawer and opened the next one. I explained again but she just…

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Well that’s interesting.

In the High Court yesterday a senior judge determined that Iain Duncan Smith had discriminated against two disabled people by applying the benefits cap to their carers.

The judge who ruled that this was discriminatory when applied to carers doing 35 hours or more of care every week said: “To describe a household where care was being provided for at least 35 hours a week as ‘workless’ was somewhat offensive. To care for a seriously disabled person is difficult and burdensome and could properly be regarded as work.”

You don’t say!

Of course it’s work. There can be no argument about this.

If the family members who are acting as carers weren’t there then carers from agencies and Social Services would have to do the caring and they would be paid a wage for performing these tasks. Just because a family member is doing the work does not change the nature of what needs to be done. A disabled person who needs help with having a bath is not going to need any less or more help depending on who is doing the helping. The work involved in helping that disabled person is always the same whenever they have a bath, whoever is doing the helping. Caring for a disabled person is hard work and is , largely, a thankless task. The money paid as Carers’ Allowance to these dedicated carers is derisory.

This got me thinking.

Could this judgement be used, legally, as justification for Carer’s Allowance needing to be raised to the same amount as someone would be paid as a minimum wage for a 35 hour week instead of the paltry amount it is at present? If, legally, a family carer is in ‘paid’ employment then surely the law states that they should be paid at at least the minimum wage for the work they do. And, if the pay that the family carer is receiving is their Welfare Benefit payment, namely, their Carers’ Allowance, then doesn’t that pay have to be at the same minimum wage rate that an agency or Social Services carer would receive for the same work? I am unable to see an reason why this should not be the case. I believe Iain Duncan Smith is on very shaky ground trying to say that a family carer’s work is of less value than that of a paid carer.

On top of this, family carers are also saving the Government so much money.

If a disabled person receives their care through Social Services or an agency then, as well as the salary that is paid to the carer, there will be administrative costs as well. There are no admin costs for family carers so they are still cheaper. Surely the benefit payment they receive should be higher than it is at present to reflect this. The Government will still save money if benefit rates are in increased, just not as much.

I would like to congratulate the judge in the discrimination case for understanding what being a carer means, how difficult a role it is. Iain Duncan Smith, needs to take note of this ruling and make things fairer. The Government keep on insisting they want people to work their way out of poverty but family carers can’t do this. They can’t work longer hours, their benefit won’t go up. They can’t take a second job, benefit rules preclude this. They can’t go on strike. Carers need to be paid properly for what they do. If the law states that carers should be regarded as being in full-time work then these wonderful people should receive a proper wage for this work.

The Government must ensure Carers Allowance is adequate recompense for the role that has been undertaken, not he miserly pocket money that it is at present. Take the financial stress and the worry away from carers and disabled people alike. Recognise the work that is done, recognise how hard it is, recognise how demanding it is, don’t just dismiss it. Acknowledge that family carers are workers just like all other employed people. Allow carers to live and not just exist. Raise the rate to at least minimum wage levels. 

Caring is job, not a hobby and welfare benefits for carers should reflect this. Raise the rate.

Exactly what are David Cameron, George Osborne and the Conservatives up to? What are they trying to do to this country? I’m not entirely sure but, whatever it is, I really don’t like it very much.

There are three things in particular that I have spotted in the past week that are giving me cause for concern. Three things that should be giving us all cause for concern. Three things concerning National Security, Education and the NHS.

National Security first. I don’t pretend to be an expert or anything, just a middle-aged woman with too much time on her hands to think and ponder the state of the world but, and it’s a big but, I really don’t understand the sanity of cutting police numbers when, as a nation, we appear to be at a heightened risk of attack from Daesh terrorists. Surely we need to keep police numbers, at the very least, at their current levels? Surely funding for the police should remain at its current level until things internationally calm down? Surely we need more police on the streets picking up local intelligence about what is going on, not less. Cutting police numbers at this time just doesn’t feel right. It does not make sense to me.

The second thing that is concerning me is David Cameron’s plans for Teaching Assistants. He wants to stop their entitlement to holiday pay during school holidays. Nine weeks worth of annual salary amounting to between one and half and three thousand pounds. Each. That strikes me as very unfair. Teaching Assistants are a vital part of the education system in the country. Teachers nationwide rely on the help these assistants give and the work they do in the classroom every single day. Surely, if we want the best education possible for our children we need to support our teachers as best we can. Surely this means paying our teaching assistants properly and ensuring that they get the same holiday entitlement as other workers and that their terms and conditions are fair. Cutting holiday entitlement for teaching assistants just does not feel right. It does not make sense to me.             

Then there is the NHS. Where do I start? There is so much that does not seem right about what the Government is doing there. We have junior doctors voting to go on strike for the first time ever because of adverse changes to their contracts and terms and conditions. Hospitals and trusts are being limited in how much they can spend on agency staff whilst the Government is actively discouraging young people from training as nurses by cutting bursaries to nursing students. Surely, if we want to save money on the use of agency staff in the long term, we need to encourage young people to enter the profession. Surely the best way of doing this is to give them access to decent bursaries whilst they are students if they need them. Surely we need to ensure that our junior doctors are not expected to work ridiculous numbers of hours without a break and that they receive a decent salary for this work whilst they are training. These student doctors and nurses are the future of healthcare in this country. Surely we should be helping them become the best in the world, not driving them away with penny-pinching policies. Cutting the pay, conditions and student funding for medical professionals just does not feel right. It doesn’t make sense to me.  

I would like to see some common sense being used by the Government. I know that we, as a country, don’t have money we can just throw around willy nilly. I know savings have to be made somewhere and that we are living in a time of austerity but there must be another way. Why not look at the individual tax dodgers? Why not look at the big businesses and corporations that are not paying their way? Why not chase the bankers and the financiers with their fat-cat bonuses instead of trying to squeeze even more savings from overstretched and underfunded national services. I would like to see the  police force having sufficient money to be able to be able to perform their function properly and keep our towns and cities safe. I would like to see our educators and their assistants celebrated for what they do, not penalised by cuts to their terms and conditions. I would like to see our medical professionals being able to do the work they are trained to do, looking after our sick and ill countrymen and women unhindered by exhaustion, lack of pay and lack of financing when they are students.

Now that would feel right. That would make sense to me.  

It takes a 4 year old to get it right…

My friend’s son asked her this yesterday: ‘Mummy, why do people think Muslims are mean just because there were some mean ones in Paris? Sometimes people are mean but it doesn’t mean everyone will hurt people! I think grown ups are so silly!’

Young children often say amazing things that adults find difficult to cope with because young children don’t judge others the same way adults do. They haven’t learnt to hate. They just say what comes into their heads which is what this little boy did.

Young children often say the things adults just don’t seem to understand. Children understand the world in a completely different way from adults and what they say is their way of trying to make sense of what they see and hear. My own kids did it when they were little. They often said things that made me think and wonder, in awe,  at the simplicity and innocence of children. If those of you who are reading this blog don’t have any children of your own, listen to your nephews and nieces, your grandchildren, your friends and neighbours’ children and you’ll see. Young children see life differently. It maybe more simplistic than the way we, as adults, see it but maybe their simplicity is the key to solving a lot of what is going wrong in the world at the moment.

Take race and religion and ethnicity and gender and disability. Small children just don’t see it the same way adults do. If you actually take the time to watch a group of three and four year olds playing together they just see each other as fellow children. They couldn’t care less about what ethnicity the other children are or what religion they follow or what gender they are or whether they have a wheelchair or crutches, all that matters to them is what they are playing with and can they join in.

When my older daughter was just four years old I took her to an anti-apartheid rally with a friend of mine and her four year old. The two little girls loved it and danced and sang and laughed and had fun all afternoon, without a care in the world. And other people watched them with tears in their eyes. Why? Because my daughter is white and has blonde hair and big blue eyes whilst my friends’ daughter is mixed race and takes after her African father for her looks and skin tone. They couldn’t have cared less, they just wanted to play together and enjoy themselves because it was a nice sunny day and they were in the park and there was music and they were together.  

Perhaps we should listen more closely to what children say, maybe they have it right and we, adults, have it wrong. Maybe we should follow their lead.

My hope is that all the amazing children, like my friends’ son, will grow up to be amazing, caring adults. If they do then the world will be safe. These children are the world’s future. We must all love them, and care for them and teach them right from wrong but, most importantly, we must listen to them too. Maybe, if we just do that they will amaze us by exactly how profound they can be. Maybe we need to acknowledge that they might just have it right and that we have it all wrong.

I am absolutely fuming. Steam coming out of my ears, effing and blinding fuming.

Why? I hear you ask.

OK, bear with me. Here’s the situation for you.

My Housing Association, the one I have rented a home from since 1987, has been doing big renovations works to all the houses they own in my estate. They have been ripping out and replacing all the kitchens and bathrooms with nice new shiny ones. I live in one of the properties which was due to have this much needed work done. Over the past few weeks we have had designers and tenant liaison officers and surveyors traipsing around the house doing everything that needed to be done before the work could commence. My daughters and their friends have spent many hours packing and clearing all our goods and chattels from the rooms where the work was going to happen and storing them in nooks and crannies upstairs. My ex-partner has, very helpfully, come from the other side of London and taken mountains of rubbish to the tip for us. My carers have done their best, without complaint, to work around the amount of kitchen equipment that has had to be put been put in the room where I sleep and spend my days.

After much planning and faffing the contractors started my new kitchen last week and a lot of fuss, noise and dust it has been so far but, it’s being done.

Now, every other tenant who has had this work done has had both rooms dealt with at the same time but, due to my disabilities, they decided they would deal with my kitchen first and then do my bathroom as soon as the kitchen was finished. I was then told that, because we have Christmas happening, my bathroom would be done after Christmas.

So far so good…

I have now been told, unofficially, that the renovations contract is coming to an end early and, whilst the kitchen work is OK, because the bathroom hasn’t been started yet, it’s not going to happen at all. I am so angry.

There is a very good reason why the bathroom hasn’t been started yet. The fact that I am a disabled person with care needs so it was decided that dealing with two rooms at once would be too disruptive. In other words, if I hadn’t been disabled and it had been possible to do both rooms at the same time, the way the Housing Association has done for other tenants, then the bathroom would have happened. They are saying that due to the reasonable adjustment that they made for me by doing the two rooms one after the other because of my disability, I now won’t get the bathroom done at all. In my opinion, this can’t be right. In my opinion this is this disability discrimination and I am absolutely furious.

There is a lot of repair work that will still need to be done in there anyway which would have been dealt with in the bathroom refit that is now not going to happen. The skirting and pipework boxing was ripped out by workmen ten years ago so they could repair damaged pipework. The workmen never came back to sort it out. This would have been repaired in the new bathroom. We had a  new combination bidet and toilet installed two years ago when the old one broke. It has never been commissioned so the bidet part has never worked. It would have been commissioned for the new bathroom. Our current bathroom, which was put in especially for me, is not a wet room which means I have been unable to have a shower since I came home from hospital in February and have had to make do with bed baths instead. My new bathroom would have been a wet room. The tiles are all coming off the walls due to some major cracks that need dealing with and new tiles need to be put up. The new bathroom would have meant the cracks were filled and new tiles were put up. I am now told that, due to my disability, none of this will happen. All this work will still need to be done but, when is anyone’s guess.

I am not going to let this rest. I refuse to go down without a fight. My half-done kitchen looks as if it will be beautiful, I want my promised and much anticipated bathroom too. I want the pipework boxing in. I want proper skirting boards. I want no cracks in the walls. I want tiles that don’t keep falling off. I want a toilet and bidet that works. I want a proper wetroom. If my Housing Association try to fob me off I will be looking for a legal representation and I will be taking this further. Why should I, just because of my impairment, get left out. I’m sorry but it’s just not happening, you’re messing with the wrong girl.

Following the atrocious and tragic events in Paris on Friday, I have been trying to decide if, firstly, I should write a blog about what has happened and my feelings about it and, secondly, if I did write, what I should actually write.

Well, as you can see, after reading all the social media posts over the weekend, I have decided that I can’t stay quiet but that I need to say something. I am not a politician or a business leader or anyone special, I am just a middle-aged disabled woman who likes to write about the things that are of concern to me and my family but I feel that I have to add my voice to the millions voices around the world shouting ‘Enough’. As a result, this blog may be a little bitty but please forgive me, I’m doing my best to say what I want to say but my thoughts are still somewhat fragmented.

The first thing that hit me was the number of people on Facebook and Twitter who were saying they were afraid to go out and dreading having to go to work today or to visit bigger cities for their regular shopping trips. Well, as far as I am concerned, what we really need to do to show that we are not beaten is just carry on. Be vigilant but carry on. Not going out, not going to work, not carrying on as normal is exactly what the terrorists want. They want us to be too terrified to leave our homes. They want to paralyse our economies, our businesses, our countries so everything grinds to a shuddering halt. They want us to stop living our ordinary, peaceful lives as we want and deserve to be able to continue to do.

We must not let that happen.

We need, as much as we can, to continue with our daily lives as usual. That way they can’t win whatever they do.

The second thing that got to me this weekend happened yesterday, when I was watching the Andrew Marr Show. One of the guests was the French Ambassador. She said something that got me thinking.

She referred to the terrorists who committed the atrocities in Paris as ‘Daesh’ and not ‘ISIS’.

When Andrew asked her why she did this she said it was because the terrorists were neither true Islamic people or coming from a State. So I looked it up and she’s right.

Daesh is an Arabic word in its own right (rather than an acronym) meaning ‘a group of bigots who impose their will on others’ That it can be ‘differently conjugated’ to mean either this or ‘to trample and crush’ One of the words in the acronym also means ‘to trample or crush’. Not only that but, apparently, the terrorists hate being called Daesh and not ISIL.

As a result I will now always refer to the low-lives that commit these atrocities as Daesh.

Apart from that I have also been horrified by the vitriol that has been hurled around concerning ordinary Muslim people. People who have lived in our communities for many years, people who have raised their families here, people whose children have attended the same schools as our children, people who are our neighbours. Suddenly these decent, caring people are being seen as suspicious and frightening and as possible Daesh sympathisers. Well, in my opinion, and in the opinion of many other people, they aren’t. They are as scared of and as appalled by what is happening as the rest of us. They are being spat at and cursed and abused just because they are being seen as different. They aren’t.

I reckon that the best way for us all to defeat Daesh is to all stand together and work as a team. If we splinter off into different factions dependent on our differing ethnic backgrounds and religious allegiances then the terrorists have won. If we work together then we can stop it spreading any further. We need to be strong and carry on together. Only then can we beat the fear and hatred and stop this horror going any further.