Writing this post is taking a great deal of bravery as I am going to openly admit that I receive benefits. I am often ashamed that I do, I feel undeserving, ‘the scum of the earth’, ‘a benefits scrounger’. I just thought as I was writing this that I should say that my parents have always worked and paid taxes but I do not need to justify why I deserve benefits. I’m lucky to come from a family that have jobs, not everyone is so lucky but that does not make someone undeserving of benefits.
We live in a country that is often there to help people in need and we are very lucky that we do. If your relative were to crash their motorbike would you feel ashamed that the NHS treated him or her, or would the patient feel the need to justify their reasons as to why they deserved treatment…I doubt it.
There is so much shame and stigma attached to receiving benefits and I am aware that there are people who have given it a bad name, for example people who commit fraud and fake illnesses in order to get money and whilst the media may give a lot of coverage to people who abuse the benefits system, these people are the minority.
I am ill. I want to work, I want to go to university and earn my own money and I will one day but today I am ill. I feel that often people look at me and see what I can’t do, they see that I’m not capable of catching a bus into town on my own or I’m not capable of making myself dinner but look at what I can do instead. Today I got out of bed, today I got dressed, today I wrote a blog post. For me these a massive things, they take a lot of effort and energy. I have to fight my way through everything. I am not well enough to work, I might not be in a wheelchair, you might not be able to see my disability but it’s there.
There is nothing shameful about receiving benefits because you are mentally unwell. It does not make you weak or a drain on society. You are a person in need and it is okay to ask for help. It is okay to receive help. Everyone needs money to live.
Without benefits recovery would be almost impossible, people would have to rely on family or friends to house them, feed them, pay for travel and toiletries and not everyone is fortunate enough to have people who can do that. My recovery from anorexia would be pointless if I couldn’t buy food. Without recovery there is zero chance of me getting into a place where employment is possible again. Benefits actually help people to get back into work. Before you judge a person for receiving benefits think about this: if it was your mum, brother, daughter or spouse in need of help and support wouldn’t you feel differently? Wouldn’t you want them to be able to eat and have a roof over their head, particularly as they are already unwell and vulnerable?
Who Benefits also looks at the positive impact that benefits have on society in an attempt to change the debate surrounding claims and claimants.