Dear David Cameron: What life is really like with aniridia and on benefits

Today government plans for the biggest shake-up of the welfare system for decades come in to force. Hundreds of thousands of households across the UK will be affected by the changes to benefits.

An article in the Mirror last autumn featured Terri, one of our members. It was published on the day Prime Minister David Cameron told his party conference and the nation he planned to make more ­cuts. Terri told how for her benefits are essential and  should not be reduced.

Terri is 50 years old and registered blind due to aniridia and glaucoma. She lives with her three daughters ranging from 20 to 16 years old in Lancashire. In the article she says:

“This Government seems to think the longer you’re blind the less help and support you need. It isn’t true. There is no more money to take from us – nothing left to give.”

I was born severely sight-impaired but in my 30s, when I had children, it deteriorated even more.

To me, your Government does not understand disability. I rely on my disability living ­allowance of £105.90 a week to get by, but more than half of that goes on paid ­assistance, where a carer comes round for 12 hours every week.

Once they discovered a jam jar full of fly eggs where my daughters hadn’t resealed it properly – I would never have noticed.

Can you imagine what it would have been like if I’d eaten them?

I have to spend a lot of money on washing powder because I’m more likely to get my clothes dirty. It also means it’s costing more in terms of electricity and wear and tear on the washing machine itself.

The bus stop is five minutes away, which might not sound very far, but when you’re carrying heavy ­shopping and using a cane, using a taxi is the only option. That can be as much as £24 a week.

I don’t go out, I don’t drink, I don’t have money for treats or anything special and I can’t really cook meals from scratch, so I rely on ready meals, which makes shopping more expensive. My weekly food bill can be as much as £120 a week.

I don’t need anything else to make me feel like a second class citizen, I already do. But any changes to DLA will make life untenable.

I fear for my three daughters’ future. There’s already a school of thought that suggests those on benefits don’t deserve them and don’t want to work. This simply isn’t true. Ask any disabled person and most will tell you they’d love to work if only they could.

I’m also a single parent, which brings its own stigma.

There’s a belief that the children of those on benefits will grow up on them too. Again, that’s not true.

Please don’t make any more cuts. The impact they have makes people more vulnerable and I fear for what will happen if more is taken from those who desperately need it.”

About Aniridia Network

A charity support group for people with the genetic visual impairment aniridia and their families in the UK and Ireland. Our vision is that people with/associated with aniridia are hopeful, confident, supported and well informed regarding aniridia. Founded in 2000. First registered as a charity in 2011 and fully in 2018.
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