Homeless and needing help…but… (an open letter to MPs)

13 years ago I was diagnosed with chronic, clinical depression for which I have been taking medication since.  I also suffer from Generalised Anxiety Disorder, crippling tension headaches and panic attacks.  I take medication for the latter.

Back at the end of March, I lost my home.  The same week, my uncle passed away very suddenly.  The following week, my long term partner split up with me, and following that, I lost my job as a result of my depression.  All this in 14 days, a lot for anyone to deal with I’d think.

I currently reside in a caravan on the Worcestershire/Herefordshire border – a 23′ touring caravan, not a huge static.  I have no shower or toilet facilities in my caravan.  I use my parents address for correspondence.

The site I am using is not a residential site.  I am technically homeless, yet I still have to pay rent.  I’m not, however, entitled to housing benefit.

I am registered with Shropshire Home Point – my registration took less than 24 hours.  On Friday 1st July I took a paper application into the Hive to register for Worcestershire Home Choice Plus, as there is some sort of problem with the system that wouldn’t allow me to register online.

Yesterday, I received a letter from WHCP saying that I had not put my connection to Worcester on the form.  I’d clearly written ‘Mother – *name* lived in Worcester for X years’

They said they also needed information about the length of time she has lived in Worcester, as well as her address.  I wrote in section 16 (as I had been asked to), that there is no room for me at my mothers house, and that I use he address for correspondence

My C/O address is quite clear on the form also.

I stated on the form that I will be asked to leave my current site within a month, as it is not a residential site, and that my living situation is affecting my health.

I have been sent a medical assessment form.

Please bear in mind that to go and pick up my post is a 60 mile round trip, costing £10 in fuel.  WHCP could have emailed me.

I apologise that my situation isn’t straightforward, and that people may have had to use their brains, but I am desperately trying to make my life better, and I am met by obstacles at every turn.

I have been going through hell trying to sort out Universal Credit, I have been patronised and spoken to like I am sub-human.

And now, for some reason, WHCP are playing delay tactics, that if they just used their brains, wouldn’t be an issue and I could start trying to look for a home.

Needless to say, not one part of this is helping me illness, and I am truly concerned for my own welfare at this point.  I recently started a part time job at 6 hours per week, which I am seeing as a stepping stone to getting my life back on track, but the fact that there is no help, no easily accessible advice, and a seemingly arbitrary system in place for any government services, it’s not exactly helping my things.

I can’t help but wonder that the overall plan is just to get rid of all people suffering from mental health issues to make things easier for the people that could make a difference.

It’s funny, I’ve worked since I was 16, and paid taxes, yet I’m treated like I’m the one sponging off the state.  £317 per month is meant to keep me.  I still have the same bills as I did at the beginning of March.  What do you get from the taxpayers each month?  Are you constantly treated like you’re taking directly from someone’s pockets?

I urge you to read my blog at www.widdleswobble.wordpress.co.uk for more in depth information about what I have been put through at the hands of the benefits system and how this impacts on ones mental health.  It seems as though people like yourselves that are able to make a change are completely oblivious to what actually goes on.

I look forward to your reply.

Just more of the fun & games with the government system, huh?  This letter has been sent to Robin Walker, Harriett Baldwin and Stephen Crabb.

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My Caravan – ‘Tess’

I can’t believe I  didn’t upload this to the blog!!!

I must say, I absolutely LOVE living in my caravan, and if I could move somewhere nearer people I know, I would, and I’d stay in my caravan, and it’d all be fine.  I live in a beautiful part of the world, and waking up to the rolling hills of the Herefordshire/Worcestershire/Shropshire areas is wonderful.  Even when it’s raining.  Oh!! The rain on the roof! There’s something really lovely about being all snuggled up inside, and the British Summertime is doing it’s thing and pelting down sleet!

The fact is, I can’t move her.  Unfortunately, there are a lot of rules & regulations surrounding caravan dwelling, and I’m not really  up to trying to figure out where I can go where I’ll be safe & happy.

And of course, you’re tarred as a pikey if you live in a caravan, which is the issue I had with my original site.

Anyway, here’s a little tour of my house, plus special guest appearances by Momo & Hitomi!  Seriously, you have no idea how much this pair of dopes mean to me. They have definitely managed to help me through.  Too much cat love. Tone down the cat love…

Deep breath…

Work is going well, I mean, stacking shelves & cleaning for 3 hours per shift is pretty easy, and the majority of my earnings will be going towards my Relocation Campaign (take a look here!!).

I’m available for TV work! HAHAHAHA!!!!!!!!

Vlog!

I’ve been going a bit crazy with the videos today – I think because I can actually upload them (I use my phone’s mobile data to connect to the internet you see, and I currently have 2GB!), anyway, I made a little video about my Go Fund Me, and a little bit about how I came to be in the situation I’m in.

My videos have always been the same, I don’t edit, I don’t script, I just get an idea and then chatter, but I think I get my point(s) across!!!

Thanks for watching!

Claiming Benefits.

I’ve been unemployed since the beginning of April. I made a claim for Jobseekers Allowance, and was put on Universal Credit.  I had to wait until 10th June to get a payment of £238.  I still have all the bills I had to pay before losing my job, so I wonder how people cope, as I can guarantee that I’m not doing so well.  I guess one benefit is that I don’t have to pay for my prescriptions.

Going through the benefits system has been nothing short of traumatic.  I have been patronised, spoken down to and treated like a sub-standard human.  I have asked if I know how to look for a job, been told that I shouldn’t be overdrawn and given incorrect information time and time again.

I have been in work since I was 16, so I know how to look for work.  I am not uneducated, and I’m certainly not scum, so why do employees of the DWP feel it necessary to treat me this way?

From speaking to other people, this is common practice.  It’s almost as if we a taking money from their own pockets.

At no point have I been offered any kind of support.

The benefits system is seriously failing people with mental health issues.

How can Stephen Crabb (Secretary of State for Work & Pensions) even imagine that the system is fine how it is?

When information and support is deliberately withheld, how can this be a good way to run the system?

For instance, I read about budgeting support.  I’d quite like that help.  I was given a leaflet from Debt Advice.  If you ask, you can have your benefits paid bi-weekly, but you have to know about this in the first place to be able to ask.

Universal Credit is meant to ‘reflect the world of work’, but I was paid weekly, all my bills were set up weekly, I budgeted weekly, so how does that system help me?  The amount of Universal credit is roughly what I earned per week, so far less than minimum wage.

I honestly wonder if the system is set up in such a way that they hope to kill off people with mental health issues.  It wouldn’t surprise me.

Maybe Mr Crabb doesn’t realise how this affects someone with such an illness?

Let me enlighten you.

I already mentioned having exactly the same bills now as I did when I was employed full time.  You start getting threatening letters because your bank account is overdrawn, you get phone calls from people wanting the bill paid.  As a sufferer of depression and anxiety, you dread the phone ringing, you don’t know what to say to them, so you ignore it.  You don’t know how to deal with it.  You feel helpless.

You try to eat a healthy diet because you know it helps you feel better, but you can’t afford the good food that you could when you were earning, so instead you start living on pasta and sauce and cheap ready meals.  Your stomach constantly feels bloated and you feel sick.  You feel lethargic and even less inclined to leave the safety of your bed.

You can’t go out anywhere because you can’t afford the petrol.  You certainly can’t afford to socialise unless you’re being paid for, and that causes feelings of shame and guilt.  How can you replay them?

You dread your bi weekly visits to the job centre to be judged by someone sat behind a desk, tarring you with the same brush as those ‘benefits cheats’.  The dread starts a few days before your appointment, and when sat in front of the guardian of the money, you bite back the tears as they decide if your attempts to find work in a place where no work exists were up to their own standards.  You want to yell and scream, but you turn into a tiny, quiet little mouse.  You just want someone to help, but know it’s not likely here, and you have no idea where to turn.  They’ve beaten you down.

All the while, those with the power to make a difference put in their expenses forms whilst you struggle to get by on the pasta and cans of beans you had left over from the last time you were able to do a proper food shop.

I wonder if Mr Crabb will read this?  I wonder what his thoughts are?

This is why I want to move.  I want to make a better life for myself, but how can I even make that happen when I can barely afford to feed myself?  It’s a never ending spiral of worthlessness, failure and shame.

I wonder if Mr Crabb would like to donate?  He could always claim it back on his expenses…

Please consider donating to my Go Fund Me

Excellent start to the week…plus a little request…

I’VE GOT A JOB!!!!

It’s only 6 hours per week, but there may be the possibility of more if I’m needed, but I HAVE A JOB!!!!  After being unemployed for going on for 3 months, I can’t tell you how happy I am at this news, plus, as it’s so few hours, I feel it is totally managable, and will be of great benefit to improving my health overall.

Plus I’ll be able to feed myself and the girls!

After a wonderful weekend at the Tenbury Music Festival (where I was papped!!!), this is just the perfect start to the week!

This news (ironically) came at a very interesting time.

Last night I was browsing the interwebs and I came across an article about Go Fund Me campaigns.

Maybe first I need to give you a bit of backgroud before I move on to the request…

When I was a lot younger – 14/15 – I was having a really awful time at school, being bullied relentlessly both in and out of school.  I took to the internet (it was dial up at the time…!!), and met a group of people with similar interests to my own.  One of those people was a wonderful lady who came from Sweden.  We met at a group meeting from the webchat we used, and she came to stay with me in Yorkshire for a few days.  As happens, we lost touch at some point, but I came across her LinkedIn profile some years later and got back in touch.  We keep in touch regularly now, thanks to the wonder of Facebook.

So, we’ve had an idea that we’ve been throwing around for a while, but the time never seems to have been right.

My friend has suggested that I move to Sweden, and start afresh.  The time couldnt be more right.  I have no permanent home (although a caravan is a permanent home of sorts, it’s not actually ‘permanent’ permanent), no friends in the area, and, although I had my good news today, I don’t have a career here.  So why not?

Money.

So I started a Go Fund Me campaign.

That’s what I was doing when I got the call about the job.

As I have now got a job, and money I can put towards my fund myself, I will, of course.

I need to get passports for the girls, which can cost up to £200 each.  I’ll need money to live and pay rent until I get a job (I am already sending my CV to companies out there), and of course I’ll need a plane ticket.

I’ve decided that anything over my target will go to the mental Health charity Sane, as well as anything left after I get a job.

Sane have helped me through one of the worst periods of depression I have experienced since I was diagnosed so many years ago.  They do amazing work, and I want them to continue helping people in the way they have helped me.  I can honestly say that their TextCare service has been one of the things to have kept me going this past few months.  Please take a look at their website to see the amazing work they do.

This is my chance at a brand new start, and I’ll be very honest, asking for help is not something I do easily, but I here am asking for your help.

So, my request; please, at the very least, share my funding page – https://www.gofundme.com/2acc9xw

I don’t expect anyone to donate, but I’m seeing it as a way of at least trying, and if it doesn’t work, what have I lost?

Thank you so much

W xxxx

Having fun at the Tenbury Music Festival

Having fun at the Tenbury Music Festival!!!!!!!!

(Part 1)

Living in the middle of nowhere, with no friends living close by, I’ve had a lot of time to think about the events of the past few months.  I’m not decided if this is a good thing or a bad thing yet, but I know I am beginning to feel better, finally.  It’s small steps, and I know that there will be good days and bad days, but I think I’m getting there.

I feel able to assess what has gone wrong.

I moved to the area I live in to be nearer to my partner, but it wasn’t long before I had decided that the place I was renting was actually pretty bad for me.  It was costing me over half of my wages each month, and my landlord seemed to think it was ok to let himself into my flat whenever he felt like it.  This, combined with the fact that I received verbal abuse from him, him thinking it acceptable to vet my post and the fact that he would not communicate directly with me regarding my tenancy (it was ok to talk to anyone other than me, in fact) led me to decide (after a year of this) to leave.  My partner supported me in my decision, and knew that the place wasn’t making me happy.

At the end of February, I began to downsize.  Along with not wanting the fancy flat, that I didn’t need a majority of the ‘stuff’ I’d accumulated over the years.  It wasn’t adding to my happiness and therefore it had no place in my life.

A friend was selling a caravan, so I made the decision to buy my own house, and move from a 1 bedroom flat, into a 4 berth caravan.  Saving on rent and bills would be huge, and it would allow me to save for a future with my  partner.

My landlord vanished for 5 weeks, I assume he’d gone on holiday.  During this time, I’d paid a deposit on a pitch for my caravan, and began packing in order to move out as soon as I was able.  As he was away, I wasn’t able to talk to my landlord.  I didn’t know when he would be back, or what to do in the mean time.  Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to move and pay my rent, but again, I was unable to speak with my landlord about this, plus, as I already mentioned, he refused to speak with me about such things anyway.

The day before we were due to leave for a holiday for my birthday, my landlord decided to lose the plot completely.  I’d seen him, but again, he didn’t speak to me.  He approached my partner, and said he wanted me out (no great shame as I was planning on leaving the week after our holiday anyway), but I think he wanted to feel in control, so he decided to kick me out.  I was not party to any conversations, so I cannot say what was discussed, but the outcome was that I had until the end of the week following our holiday to move out of the flat (end of March).  Fine by me.

Whilst my landlord was on holiday, my heating broke, and my boiler was constantly on.  This resulted in a services bill of over £350.  My partner agreed to pay the bill, without consulting me.  I was not happy with this, but I was told ‘you have no choice’.  So the bill was paid.

On this same day, the site I had booked to put my caravan called to say they would not accept the van on site as it ‘looks old’, and ‘looks like a gypsy caravan’.  Yes, it is old.  Yes, it needed cleaning, but the issue was actually the make.  You see, my caravan is a make that is favoured by travellers.  Instantly I was labelled as a pikey.  The lady at the site said they had a van that someone was selling, which they would be happy to put on the pitch, the only issue with it was that there was no hot water.  Not a problem as there were facilities nearby.  We said we would take it as I needed a place to live.

Everything sorted, and I could go and enjoy my holiday visiting my partners family in Malta.

At this point I’m going to go back to December 2015.  I was working in a warehouse, a job that I enjoyed very much, but I had been bullied for a number of months.  This was by a man that had a history of treating others how he was treating me, but the management kept letting him get away with it so he was free to do it yet again.  After Christmas, I put in an official grievance, so this was also going on at the same time.  It was causing me to dread going into work as no one was talking to me, and I was constantly in and out of meetings about it, basically to be told ‘it’s your word against his’.  At some point, they produced a ‘mental health policy’.

In he week or so following Christmas, I found out that my uncle had been diagnosed with stage 4 cancer.

It wasn’t long before things started to go downhill and my depression started to rear it’s ugly head.

Anyway, back to March.  We had a lovely holiday, and I came back feeling relaxed.  My bully had been dismissed following an incident where he had to be dragged away from me (I honestly thought he was going to hit me), and I was moving house!

On the bank holiday Monday we went up to look at the new caravan and were absolutely appalled by what we saw.  Mouldy, damp, falling to pieces.  The things hadn’t even been cleaned since the last time the previous owner had used it.  It was vile.  It was in much much worse condition than my van, but as it was a ‘respectable’ make, I guess it was ok for them.  We declined the offer of this caravan, and parted ways.

It was at this point that I also learned that the ‘agreement’ with the landlord actually involved me being unable to stay in the flat for the last week.  I was, in effect, homeless.

My partner took the next 2 days off work in order to help me find a new place to go with my van.  We visited many sites, and even went to a travellers site, in the hope that I could move somewhere.  Finally, at around 5pm on the Wednesday, we put my van on it’s pitch.  I could rest easy.

During this week, I should have been back to work, but what with being homeless, I took the decision to prioritise that above going into work.

I spent the Thursday getting myself moved in and sorted, with the intention of returning to work the following day.

I found out that evening that my uncle had passed away very suddenly, so my return to work didn’t happen until the following Monday.  I was in bits.  In the past 7 days 2 major things had happened that really tested my ability to keep going, but keep going I did.

I returned to work to find that my bully had contacted a solicitor, so that issue wasn’t over for me yet as I’d have to keep going over what had happened, as well as having to have a disciplinary for ‘unauthorised absence’.  I’m not about to start bashing my former employer, however they broke a number of their own rules in the following week.  Anyway, I’ll return to that.

It was beginning to get a bit too much for me, and I was frequently tearful, and very withdrawn.  One of the bosses found me sobbing in the kitchen and told me to ‘pull myself together’.  This was after they’d made up their ‘mental health policy’.  I was gobsmacked.  I was made to feel like a burden.  This, added to my ‘dedication to the company’ being questioned (please bear in mind that I had been subject to relentless bullying since before Christmas, and stuck it out for a meager £7 per hour), was too much.  A new job was in order, so I began looking.

As always, I spent that Wednesday with my partner (Wednesdays & Fridays have always been date night), and I stayed at his place.  He offered for me to use his washing machine as it’s cheaper than the launderette, and as he was going to be away in France for a week, said I could stay at his with my cats if I wanted.  Things were looking up.  I had my new home, was looking for a new job and I was looking forward to a future with my partner.

On the Friday I went over to his again for date night, and after telling me what we were going to have for tea, he dumped me.

Needless to say, I was rather stunned.

As I understand it, the past few months had been too much for him and he ‘couldn’t do it any more’.  He’d been ‘thinking about it for the past couple of months’, and he’d ‘only stayed with me because he hoped he’d get his money back’.  I’d ‘made him unhappy’.  He’d done a stellar job of hiding it, including taking me away to Malta for a week for my birthday, when he let me pay for absolutely nothing.

This was someone that I wanted to spend the rest of my life with.  We were talking about our future just days before.  My whole world had caved in.  It was knowing that he was by my side that had helped me through the past months with the stress of work and my uncles diagnosis & death.  Now he wanted to leave.

That was 6 weeks ago.  He’s completely cut me out of his life.  I’ve spoken to him once during this time.  Going from speaking to someone every day, to them wanting absolutely nothing to do with you is heartbreaking to say the least.

I felt that our relationship was worth more than just throwing away, so I’ve emailed him.  I’ve had no response at all.

Am I bitter?  Probably, I haven’t yet got to that point.  Disappointed, maybe.  Amazed at this turn of events, for sure.  He’d hidden his feeling from me, but mentioned that one of his friends had ‘noticed he was unhappy’.  Never occurred to them to tell him to speak to me though apparently.

From what I can gather, the way that I’d handled my landlord/moving situation was the issue.  The fact that he’d had to put up money (I never asked this and I expressed my unhappiness about this), and the fact that ‘he’d had to sort everything out’.  Again, I’d never asked this, my landlord point blank refused to deal with me.

My partner knew everything about my finances, something that I have never been very good with, although I was sorting out various things in order for things to be better for our future.  I knew nothing about his, nor was I interested.  Earlier in our relationship I’d said that he would have to take care of anything like that, so it’s not unexpected that I can’t look after myself when it comes to such matters.

Anyway, I was dumped.  We didn’t split up, he dumped me.

I’ve not heard from any of the ‘friends’ I’d made whilst I’ve been living out here, and he’s made no effort to be in contact.

It’s almost as if he’s had one of those things they used in Men in Black to wipe your memory.

So these are the events that have led to 6 weeks (and counting) of the worst depression since I was diagnosed.  From about November 2015 – the beginning of April 2016.  My depression was building over this period, and then…well.  I’m here.

If you made it this far, please don’t feel sorry for me, don’t give me any cliche’s (honestly, I’ve heard them ALL!).  I’m sorry that it’s been such a long post, but it really helps get things straight in my own head to be able to ‘talk’ here.

I’ve broken this down into (at least) 2 parts, for my own sanity, and to make it less of a novel to read.

Maybe I should write a book!

So…

2016 got pretty crappy this past 2 weeks.

I’ll be honest, I’ve never been any good at adulting, I’ve never admitted any differently, but I try.  That’s got to be worth something, right?

Anyway, I’d been reassessing my life, and what I was getting out of it (or more to the point, what I could change to get more out of life).  I decided that paying over half of my earnings to a landlord that gave precisely zero fucks about me wasn’t how I wanted to live my life any more.  It was time to move on. I wanted to save for a future with my partner.  I want to make memories with him, and for us to have a good future.

So I did.  I started packing.  I discovered that my flat wasn’t actually overly expensive.  So what could I do?

As luck should have it, a friend was selling a caravan that had served her husband well whilst he was working away from home, as he was retired, they no longer had use for her.  So I now own ‘Tess’.

Anyway, it was my birthday last month.  I’d arranged a place to site my new home, paid a deposit, and we took Tess up to her new home.

The day before Iw as due to leave the country for a birthday away in Malta with my parents & my partner, I got a call from the site.  They didn’t want Tess there.  She ‘looks old’.  She is old.  She’s a 1990 Tabbert Comtesse 530.  Tabbert being a make favoured by travellers.  Basically, I’d been branded a pikey, but they couldn’t say that.

They offered a newer caravan that was being sold by someone else on the site, so we accepted (I needed somewhere to go, and we were told that the only problem was there was no hot water – could be fixed…).

So off we went to Malta for a week.  We spent time with my partners family who live over there, and it was wonderful to be able to forget the past few stressful months of work, and look forward to the future.  Saving so much money, I would finally be able to save for a good future with my partner.  Things were looking up!!

We arrived back in the UK, with Storm Katie doing her thing, but I was moving house.  Moving to my very own place!! HUZZAH!!!

Bank Holiday Monday – We drove up to the site.  We were super excited to see my new place!  Get my things in, and start making a home.

But no…things don’t go that way do they?! The van they had sold us was damp everywhere, it had mould growing on the carpet.  A mini flood in the battery cabinet.  It hadn’t even been cleaned before it was put in storage for the winter.  This was way worse than Tess!!

So we got the money back, but I was now homeless. 3 days of searching for a place to go seemed fruitless.  My partner had taken 2 days off work to help me.  I honestly don’t know what I would have done if he hadn’t been by my side.  We even visited a traveller site to check out the possibility of going there.

After seemingly endless searching, at 5pm on the Wednesday, we put Tess on her new pitch.  So I was no longer homeless!

I’d taken the past 2 days off work, so I told them my situation, explained that I had to get my things from my old flat the following day, but I’d be back in on the Friday.

So Thursday…I moved my things in, started organising.  Took a deep breath, felt relieved.  So much stress had been lifted (even though there was the matter of going to clean the old flat, but that could be done at the weekend no problem!).  A day of bustling and sorting, and I took myself off for tea.

As I was tucking into my amazing food, my partner called.  He came to meet me.  Straight away I knew something was wrong, and more or less forced him to tell me what the problem was.  After all, a problem shared, right?

My uncle had passed away.

Mick was diagnosed with cancer at Christmas.  I’d been finding it difficult to deal with, and had taken some time off work.  This was the family stuff I mentioned in my last post.

He passed away very suddenly at his home on that day.  My mum had called my partner as she didn’t want to have to tell me over the phone.

I spent the following day with my mum.  Coming home to my cats and my own place was lovely though.

Naturally, things started to get on top of me at this point.

I was told by a manager to ‘pull yourself together’, when she caught me having a cry to myself in the kitchen.

I’m facing disciplinary action at work for the time I’ve taken off.

On Friday last week, my partner decided to end our relationship.

This final thing is the one that’s got me the most.

I went to the doctor today, who prescribed plenty of self care.  So I got cream cakes for my lunch.  Hell, I’m happy if I can eat after losing so much weight over the past 2 weeks.  Don’t judge me!

All I can think of at this point is that I am so lucky to have friends that care about me, that check in with me regularly, and 2 cats who will happily stick their bums in my face when I am in bed.

I will say one thing though – My CBT helped me fend off negative thoughts I was having last week.  Turns out those thoughts were right, but I was able to ignore them at the time.  Kinda stuck in a negative thought loop now though.

 

But it’ll be ok.  It’s always ok, isn’t it?