I have worked as a support worker in mental health and now I do volunteering as a welfare adviser. I don’t think it is possible to write down exactly what is going on, I am witnessing systemic cruelty every day. Last week I saw a disabled child who was severely malnourished. Do you think that his parents are negligent or addicts? No, they are two lovely people who had a severely disabled kid and struggled to make ends meet in the past few years. The move to UC was the last straw for them, I have seen despair in their eyes. If someone did this to a dog or a cat there would be thousands of enraged people on Facebook demanding justice, but it is a disabled child and no one gives a damn. Some even say that they should not have had kids if they were not able to support them.
The worst part is that there is very little help, writing to MPs is nearly always an utter waste of time, most are powerless or they might not care at all. The rest is down to luck, some areas have no CAB left, or the advice available is so oversubscribed that they might have to wait weeks to speak to an adviser for 15 minutes. They will give them a pamphlet or two and direct them to the food bank.
Then the tribunals, another postcode lottery… It is often not too bad, but there is no guarantee. If they are unlucky they get a panel of Daily Mail readers who will make them feel guilty and uphold the decision. People are forced to represent themselves, unfortunately they can’t afford legal representation and they easily fall apart after a few nasty questions. We must be careful how we advise people, for some going to tribunal on their own is more they can cope with. We should not advise people we know nothing about. We need more people working in the communities, actually holding people’s hands, we desperately desperately need that.