One degree of separation – there is no “them” and “us”

103,545 people on Facebook like “I hate benefit scrounging work shy bastards.”

What separates them from benefit claimants? One event beyond their control.

One departmental downsizing

One ruptured blood vessel

One car accident that you couldn’t prevent

One expected baby born with an unexpected disability

One company that suddenly tumbles into receivership

One slip, one trip, one fall on the ice, the rug, the pavement, the stairs, the shower

One bereavement you couldn’t get over

One rolling contract not renewed this financial year

One frail elderly parent you cannot bear to be cared for by strangers

One faulty gene triggered into rapid action

One unscrupulous employer who learns you are pregnant

One partner who was supposed to be “too young” for dementia

One paid job now done by an unpaid intern

One medical image confirming the worst

One mental health breakdown you never saw coming

One pension fund that didn’t deliver

One roadside IED

One factory closure

One work-related injury in the only field you ever trained for.

And if and when it happens to them…there may not be a safety net left.

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About purplepersuasion

40 something service user, activist, writer and mother living with bipolar disorder. Proud winner of the Mark Hanson Prize for Digital Media at the Mind Media Awards #VMGMindAwards 2013. Winner of the World in Mentalists Mood Disorder blog 2012. Regular guest blogger for the International Bipolar Foundation http://www.internationalbipolarfoundation.org/ Expert by Experience working with Mind training department. Working on The Incoming Tide, a bipolar memoir. Find me on Twitter @BipolarBlogger or at my Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/BipolarBlogger
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48 Responses to One degree of separation – there is no “them” and “us”

  1. El says:

    I saw this group this morning and was horrified, as you say it takes just one thing… I have been trying to post articles/comments and get this point across throughout the paralympics when passions for disability were running high. I’m not sure if I succeeded but just wanted to say thank you for this…

    • I should go over to that page and post this link… but I am still a bit wobbly and I can’t face the thought of lots of trolling on my blog… bah 😦

      • El says:

        I understand, I’m not too great at the moment or else I would have said something too, but by commenting we open ourselves up to all manner of abuse, take care 🙂

  2. Pete says:

    Yes to all of that. It’s always the people who have never been near the Benefits system who have the most to say.

  3. It’s comforting (but perhaps delusional) to think that it may never never happen to us or our family. 🙂

  4. I don’t see why you should need to be admitted, not with all the support around you. Bear in mind I have battled BP continually between ages 12 and 29 and again the last 18 months and have never been an inpatient. Purely, I believe, because I have always been lucky enough to have a partner and other family around to monitor me, make sure I take my meds, etc. Again, all luck. If I were single things would be very different.

  5. Julies Mum says:

    This is brilliant, Charlotte. It should be posted on Mind.

  6. Jeremy Rees says:

    Chances are that most of these idiots are in receipt of some sort of “in work” welfare anyway (tax credits, child benefit etc).

  7. John Potts says:

    Excellent, simple, to the point and well written. I only wish every politician/business manager/medical professional/newspaper editor and all opinion formers would read it every morning before they leave their house. Thank you and well done.

  8. tigtigs says:

    I agree, Mind would love it, also “Black Dog Tribe”, started by Ruby Wax……….worth having a look at. Thanks Charlotte, as ever you write about things so succinctly. We are all one or two steps away from all sorts of things…….for some people it is easier to cover their fear with being nasty.Take care everyone

  9. John Pearce says:

    The Chinese proverb “judge no-one until you have walked a mile in their shoes” says essentially the same thing, but the list of commonplace reverses – I’m sure most people can identify with at least three or four of the circumstances you describe – is what gives this piece its power. Someone should beat it into the heads of every newspaper editor in the country which would be a start.
    My compliments to you, Purplepersuasion, my best compliments.
    JCP

  10. lost1234 says:

    A friend of mine liked this page on facebook and my initial reaction was shock. Is that what she thinks of me then? I have a job, I am working at the moment but I am still on benefits I wouldn’t manage without them. There have been times when I have been very unwell when I have been completely reliant on benefits. I wish I was braver and could confront her but I am not. What you have written is so true, I know, life events came together for me and before I knew it I was navigating a system that I never thought I would have to and had never had to before. I hope that she never finds herself in that situation but no one knows what is round the corner for them.

    • You have put your finger on it exactly – I had a very similar reaction of, “Wow, what do you think of all the posts I make about being sick and disabled and being on benefits?” My theory is that in mentally separating “them” from “us” people are shielding themselves from the knowledge that “It could happen to YOU!” More psychologically comfortable to see benefit claimants as at fault rather than victims of circumstance!

      • Sue boo says:

        Someone who was in my friends list did share some sort of article about hinting people on benefits were scroungers etc, I did comment because it was about use of food banks n I’d had to use one the first time after my back problem happened, wow the abuse I got off her friends, until they heard my whole story, after all I’ve just been to uni for second time, have 2 BSc degrees one with honours?had moved 300 miles to gain employment, I was disgusted that suddenly because I was educated n a freak accident at work together with some bizarre musculature reactions I’m left unable to walk? Somehow that legitimised my claim on benefits to them? What makes me different? Nothing at all? People are so disgustingly bigoted? Love this poem!

      • Exactly…people are very bad at recognising that all the education or wealth in the world can never been any protection against injury or illness that can completely incapacitate x

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  13. Amy Elizabeth Palmer says:

    Thank you

  14. I wonder just how many of those people who ‘liked’ that page are actually on benefits of some kind or another but don’t see themselves as scroungers? Housing benefit, child benefit, council tax discounts – all benefits of a kind…

    • Indeed. Deserving (or, in the rhetoric of both the Government and, sadly, the opposition) “hard-working families.” In-work benefits seem to be OK, out of work benefits are a sign of laziness – even if you’re actually working very hard all day to say alive and manage your illness or disability…

      • ah, I have to take you up on that word ‘opposition’. There isn’t really any opposition to the government’s plans is there? They keep their benefits while the needy go without. I believe that this is the idea behind the rhetoric. Keep us divided while they reap the benefits.

  15. Gareth Stone says:

    I can’t find the group you’re talking about, but I imagine that while quite a few of those people make no distinction between those on benefits by accident and those by choice, plenty do, and lumping them all together as wrong is just as blithe as what the others do. Some people are needy, some people are robbing us… silly to lump them all together, in favour or against, IMO.

  16. h donovan says:

    brill post but want help me know,im reg disabled,have several different things wrong with me that stop me from working.if i could work i would.i worked all my life until i became disabled and have had my i/benefit stopped and 2mow going to appeal court to try get it back due to a benefits dr who didnt know me from adam told them i could do things so i can work,i live on my own and have someone to do a lot of things i cant do eg grass cutting,hoover,window cleaning if i didnt do other thing even though it take me ten times longer to do and kills me to do them then who else will do it !! .my dr is backing me up but we will wait and see if they see it our way 2mow when i face the board.if not then as they say i have to sign on look for work i cant do and go to interviews thats want take me on,how stupid is that oh and did i mention trying to live off 67 qwid a week !!.well fingers crossed i win.we will see.

  17. Some of us in the Green Party were warned about this group some time ago…I gather it is still in existence, which means I have obviously been banned from it!! I sent them a post asking them to show a bit of humanity (oh well all right, I did ask how come ‘hard-working taxpayers’ have time to go on FB and send hate-mail when they should be working……)

  18. Jayne Michie says:

    Hello,

    I found this poem on Atos Miracles page on facebook; it has been shared many times and the author has been credited as being an Evey V Hammond (which I understand is a fake name-a character on V for Vendetta had this name). It is a brilliant piece of writing and has touched a chord with many people. I wondered if you minded it being shared, or if you’d prefer it not to be. Also, I wondered if you’d like to be credited. If I see this shared and it is not with your consent, would you like me to point out that it is not with your permission.

    I hope you do find the idea of your work being available for others to benefit from agreeable, because it really is a very powerful poem.

    Regards

    Jayne

    • Jayne, thank you so much. I have left quite a long comment at Atos Miracles (Hammond’s only accessible to his FB friends) saying that I think it’s pretty crappy to pass another person’s work off as your own – especially when it’s copyright to another disabled person and on a page that’s supposed to be all about solidarity. The irony is I would have happily shared; all I ask is to be credited for the work I have done. Many thanks for bringing it to my attention. Charlotte x

      • Jayne Michie says:

        Hello, thank you for replying so quickly; to be fair to Atos Miracles it seemed they shared it from someone who had posted on their page (this is the impression I got, but it was way back in March). The name was at the top and they never attempted to pass it off as their own-sorry for any confusion there. I have cut and pasted exactly what was on their page. I inadvertently shared it as many did, so I apologise for that. It seemed that it was free to do because the share link was available and it was in the public domain. I only questioned it in my mind recently after watching V for Vendetta and recognising the name.

        This is exactly what they posted:

        Evey V Hammond

        One degree of separation – there is no “them” and “us”
        Posted on September 21, 2012
        103,545 people on Facebook like “I hate benefit scrounging work shy bastards.”
        What separates them from benefit claimants? One event beyond their control.
        One departmental downsizing
        One ruptured blood vessel
        One car accident that you couldn’t prevent
        One expected baby born with an unexpected disability
        One company that suddenly tumbles into receivership
        One slip, one trip, one fall on the ice, the rug, the pavement, the stairs, the shower
        One bereavement you couldn’t get over
        One rolling contract not renewed this financial year
        One frail elderly parent you cannot bear to be cared for by strangers
        One faulty gene triggered into rapid action
        One unscrupulous employer who learns you are pregnant
        One partner who was supposed to be “too young” for dementia
        One paid job now done by an unpaid intern
        One medical image confirming the worst
        One mental health breakdown you never saw coming
        One pension fund that didn’t deliver
        One roadside IED
        One factory closure
        One work-related injury in the only field you ever trained for.
        And if and when it happens to them…there may not be a safety net left.
        1

        Can you let me know if you’re happy for links to your poem and site to be shared please? There is a group that would be very interested. Again, please accept my apologies for the sharing of your work without realising Evey V Hammond wasn’t real.

        Jayne

  19. davina says:

    I have just had a terrible day, got a shock, now i read this and it brings tears to my eyes…I slipped in the bath..how simple is that? twisted my knee backwards…2 months after starting my own business…it was heartbreaking still hoping i can cope but i can’t….2 years of hobbling on crutches and my other knee gives way…i struggle everyday and this all comes after a very bad abusive marriage i was trying to get over….it can happen to anyone

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  21. Editor says:

    Reblogged this on kickingthecat and commented:
    Every time they walk down a public street; drive on a public road; use the emergency services; use the NHS they receive someone receives the benefit of collective taxation.

    To equate anyone who claims social security with scrounging and cheating is just shit. Are there people setting up Facebook saying “Anyone who claims on their house / car / etc insurance is a scrounger.” Nope. Yet anyone who claims from their National Insurance or other tax is…. Funny that….

    It does of course suit the Tories (both Blue, Orange and Red ones) that the right wing press parrot the lies and the population remains ignorant. It covers up the huge waste of money their “Welfare” policies have been. Giving billions to companies that can only get people into jobs if the person already has an offer… Or on miracle IT systems. Despite a legacy of costly IT failures (by left and right oriented government). No Facebook page based on that.
    Oh and over 53% of the 2005-10 cohort of MPs had to pay back expenses. The deeply ironic minister for justice had the taxpayer pay for this 100, 000 flat. Rather than paying the fare from Epsom. (currently I think it is about £7.80 for a single). No Facebook page based on that.

    DWP error rates are about twice as high as the “fraud” rate. No Facebook page based on that.

    Shameless is not a documentary. Even if it were, after preaching 50 years of economic maximisation, an individual doing nothing for money makes you as much like a member of the royal family, as anything else!

  22. Great post! All the best

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  25. Reblogged this on Learning to float and commented:
    There is no them and us..anyonof us can find ourselves in need of the support of the welfare state..as I discovered only this year

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