Those of you with an interest in such matters will know that another campaigner against DWP injustice has passed on.
Charlotte Ryan – Lotte to her friends – was just 37 years of age when she died last week (February 23). She had an incurable version of cancer, brain stem glioma.
At the time of her death, the Department for Work and Pensions was trying to force her to take part in the Work Programme, despite the fact that she was in the Support Group for Employment and Support Allowance.
In a letter dated December 9, 2014, the local DWP Work Programme Provider – Prospects – notified her that she was expected to participate. The letter stated: “As part of your participation in the Work Programme, you have agreed to take part in work experience on a voluntary basis to help you gain work skills and experience.”
Writing just three days later, she stated: “I have terminal cancer, my prognosis is 0-3 years and I was diagnosed in March 2014 with my brain stem glioma. In April 2014 I was placed in the support group* for 3 years and I have gone from being able-bodied to hopelessly disabled. I have many neurological deficits including diploplia, dyspraxia, dysarthria and dysphagia. To save you googling, this means that I have double vision and am going blind, I’m very clumsy and most days I drop everything I pick up, my speech is failing and one day I won’t be able to communicate verbally at all and I have such difficulty swallowing that I now have a feeding tube.
“I cannot leave the house alone and I’m at risk of choking and need 24 hour care. They speak of me going into residential care, but they hope to keep me in my own home for as long as possible. The trouble is degenerative, nothing will get better, only worse, the cancer can’t be cured.
“HOW SICK DOES A PERSON HAVE TO BE BEFORE THE HARASSMENT STOPS?”
Further information, including a copy of the letter, is available on the kittysjones blog.
This writer did not know Charlotte Ryan and this blog cannot, therefore, eulogise her.
But this blog can point out that her passage from this world would have been much easier without constant harassment by an inhumane government to take part in activities that were far beyond her abilities – or lose the benefits that were her lifeline.
Too many people believe that it is acceptable for the DWP – and the Coalition government – to treat the terminally ill in this way.
Perhaps they should read Lotte’s story.
If they won’t understand until they have to experience this treatment themselves, then it will be too late.
* The support group is supposed to be for people who the Department of Work and Pensions consider to have such severe health problems that there is no likelihood of their being able to undertake work or work-related activities.
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