Peterborough unlimited: ‘Care sector isn’t respected enough’

Campaigner Julie Fernandez writes about issues facing the disabled community in Peterborough...

Saturday, 6th November 2021, 9:15 am
Julie Fernandez.

There has been a lot of conversation, campaigning and articles within the disability press and disabled people’s organisations over the last few months in regard to decisions that the DWP are taking and changes they are making to the benefits system that directly impact our lives.

The Covid crisis has hit disabled and elderly people particularly hard.

The stats tell us that six out of 10 people who have died of Covid here in the UK have been disabled people and those with pre-existing health issues.

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That is a terrifying statistic.

Brexit has also had a massive impact on disabled people’s lives in that there is a major shortage of support workers/carers now that so many people from Europe have left the UK. Having a support worker/carer can mean the difference between getting out of bed in the morning or not, having breakfast or not, getting washed and dressed or not. These are not luxuries, these are our basic human rights after all.

The lack of decent pay and respect for the career path of a support worker/carer is a travesty here in the UK. The government has been relying on the goodwill of loved ones and friends to do the work that should be respected and paid well.

Covid has shown us that nurses, carers, drivers, people who work in supermarkets and others have a much more important role in our lives and it’s about time we respect that.

When I say ‘we’ what I really mean is the government, the people in charge, the ones who can make the changes needed to make those jobs respected and well paid.

Going back to the DWP, I am a confident and able disabled person but when I have to deal with them, which I do relatively regularly, I become a wreck.

I have to prove over and over how much my disability affects my life. I have to tell them some very sensitive and personal information which can be so very difficult. They don’t know me. They don’t know much about my disability.

How do you explain the nuances of living with daily fluctuating pain?

If you have a physical disability or physical health issue, there is a great organisation in Peterborough called Disability Peterborough. They offer free, confidential and impartial advice on a range of issues but specialise in benefits advice and support.

I have used them myself to assist me from moving from DLA to PIP.

Jane, their lead benefits advisor, spent time with me going through the PIP form, assisting me by filling it out and supporting me through the whole process.

To be honest, I don’t think I could have done it without her.

Their telephone number is 01733 265551.

If you have a learning disability and autism and need benefits advice and support, call Enabling Independence. Their contact number is 01733 530062.

As far as I am aware, there is no organisation in Peterborough that offers specific benefits advice relating to mental health.