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Showing posts from April, 2016

From scrounger to citizen

A personal journey I have had a severe chronic health condition since 1988 – the whole of my adult life. For much of that time I was embarrassed about relying on Incapacity Benefits, but not able to pinpoint the shame I felt. For most of these years I have not been able to work, socialise normally, often leave the house. But until quite recently I didn’t really think of myself as disabled as defined by the social model of disability. All that changed 5 years ago with UK welfare reforms.  With the migration from Incapacity Benefit to ESA in 2011 my identity was explicitly challenged. Through multiple encounters with Atos, DWP, Jobcentre and Work Programme contractors I was framed as a suspected malingerer, workshy and cheat. I was punished with benefit sanctions for being too ill to attend employment programmes that were designed to correct my workshy nature. As I battled to resist this aggressive and crippling process of stigmatisation, what saved my mental health wa