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Not another brown letter through the door, you get used to looking out for them each time opening the envelope with dread in your heart, especially if it is from DWP.
This time it was not funny, for the second time in a month. “Your JSA has been stopped. You have claimed another benefit, Incapacity Benefit, or Income Support.” Stress, anxiety set in. A black panic, a huge knot of anxiety tearing at the pit of the stomach, weeping starts again. Sheer frustration makes me angry as I cry “but why?” ” How did that happen?” “I have never claimed Incapacity Benefit in my life, I have no need, I am perfectly capable of working. Job Seekers Allowance was all I was looking for to help me pay my bills.” “I am an independent person!” “Not again, do I really have to go through the process, from the start one more time?”
Broken hearted, confused, tired and hurt I waste a Saturday that could have been filled with positivity, colour and sunshine. “Why is it always the weekend these letters arrive!” I think to myself, the hurt of telling the truth, yet not being believed almost too much to bear.
Monday morning arrives all too soon and I dial the DWP freephone trepidation in my heart. Anxiety growing as each minute passes I wait for around half an hour listening to the familiar canned music before a human voice clicks in. I, as everyone before me, forced to retrace steps taken before the DWP decision was made. “Name, Address, telephone number, date of birth,” the client representative, retorts, obviously bored at the never-ending monotonous questions. Anxiety and depression mount again as I turn one more step in the constant cycle of worry, stress and pain. I cannot understand why? “do I really live in Britain?” My thoughts silently shout at me, “the country where social democracy started, the land where free speech is considered a God given right for every individual. The place where you can count on the fact that if you are an honest, a decent human being, you will be respected as such.” Shortly and clearly for the third time in six months I ask, “can you please explain this letter to me.”. Frustration and anger increase steadily. “You were deemed to have claimed another benefit.” the answer. “All you can do is appeal. I can send an email to the decision maker,” the representative responds, “she will probably not reply till tomorrow.” Angrily I respond “thank you, I am sorry, I am stressed, I will have very little to live on, I have no idea how I am going to manage. This time I have to go to the papers.”
Sandra Marshall © 4 June 2018

The Way Things Are
Sitting on my own
In the house
No money to get a bus
Take a walk up town
Change the scene
Yet I am lucky
The way things are.
Watch the news
How can it be
Famine, Flood
Disease war
Oppression, lies everywhere
People on the streets
Nowhere to go
I am very lucky the way things are.
Sitting, writing
Looking, learning
Discovering every day
New wrongs I would love to right
Ideas, solutions
In and out my brain they go
Powerless, voiceless
That`s a fact
Yet I am very lucky
The way things are.
Sandra Marshall © 2014.

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