Tuesday, 1 November 2016

PIP Assessment Hell part 3 - The search for evidence and an advocate begins

A compilation of help and advice for people going through the PIP assessment process

I have had a great deal of information, advice and useful links sent my way because of the first video in this on-going tale of my PIP Assessment Hell.  As I don’t want this to all be about me, I want to share this information with viewers of my videos, some of whom may be going through the same ordeal.

This is not everything because I’ve had so many comments sent to me but as I find the information, advice and links I’ve been sent I will add them.  I will also be adding credit for the source of each piece I include on this listing as and when/if I get permission to use their names.

This list is not exhaustive and there may be more help available so if you find any links, have any advice or information, please add it as a comment to whichever video you are watching and I’ll add it to this listing.  (Please let me know if you wish me to use your name to credit you with your help if your screen name isn’t your name.)

If I have missed out any information that I have been sent, I sincerely apologise to those whose help has been erroneously omitted.  If your information, advice or useful link is missing, please contact me so I can add it.


If you have anything not in this list, you can use that to tell them they are not qualified enough and walk back out again.

List of conditions judged suitable for assessment by neuro trained nurses/any health care profession:
Prolapsed intervertebral disc
Lumbar nerve root compression
Slipped disc
Lumbar spondylosis
Lumbar spondylolisthesis
Lumbar spondylolysis
Cauda equina syndrome
Spinal stenosis
Peripheral neuropathy
Drop foot
Meralgia paraesthetica
Cervical spondylosis
Cervical nerve root compression
Nerve entrapment syndrome
Carpal tunnel syndrome
Trapped nerve
Brachial plexus injury
Essential Tremor

List of conditions judged by the DWP and Atos Healthcare as suitable only for assessment by doctors:
Head injury with neuro sequelae
Brain haemorrhage
Sub Arachnoid Haemorrhage
Brain tumour
Acoustic Neuroma
Multiple Sclerosis
Motor Neurone Disease
Parkinson’s disease
Bulbar Palsy
Myasthenia Gravis
Muscular Dystrophy
Guillain-Barre Syndrome
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis
Spina bifida
Fits (secondary to brain tumour)
Learning difficulties (with physical problems)
Bells Palsy
Trigeminal Neuralgia
Huntington’s Chorea
Huntington’s Disease
(List provided by John Greene)

Useful Links

(Links provided by Simone Illger)

(Links provided by Adrian Wait)
(Link provided)

(Link provided by Pete Logan)

(Link provided by Steve Jones)

(Link provided by Rachel Carthy)

  1. Benefits and Work is a company that helps benefit claimants get the ones they are entitled to, helping to prepare their case and giving them all the info they need. There are booklets on various aspects of benefit claims. It is not free, but seems reasonable to my mind. Their Email is campaign@benefitsandwork.co.uk.
  2. Also, although The Citizens Advice Bureau (in phone book, or look online) in your area may be very busy, it's worth trying them for help. They have an online help database but you need face to face support I think. They have phone helplines and local offices
  3. There is also DPAC, Disabled People Against the Cuts, I don't know if they are only campaigners or if they can advise individual people. Find them online.
  4. You should have a support worker through your GP, I'd think. If you do, that person could go with you to the appointment, and maybe also help you prepare all the documents you need. You can ask your doctor.
  5. There are lawyers who specialise in appeals against DWP decisions, some work through the C.A.B., free, others in welfare centres or commercially. You may get a half hour free from a socially responsible lawyer apart from that, to give you advice.
  6. Your local MP might get you support or advise you.
  7. Do you belong to a Church? There can be a very supportive community in a Church, who could help. Your Vicar or Priest would be in the phone book. I wish I could promise results. But know there are caring people around if you are lucky enough to find them.
(Provided by Patricia Stephanie Lowe who would like it made clear that she is not a professional benefits advisor)

Some Information From A Former PIP Assessor (contains advice from a former PIP assessor)

When you have been to your assessment contact DWP and ask for a copy of the notes that the health professional took down.
(Provided by Catherine Heal)

This information is the product of the out-pouring of genuine compassion and generosity that I am happy to spread around to those who need it.  Stay strong.  Don't let the bastards get you down!

PIP Assessment Hell part 4 - Good news and bad

Monday, 24 October 2016

The battle for Humanity’s soul has begun…but I’m out

In 2005 I started to actively do work that would make the world a bit of a better place.  I started out helping individuals with their efforts to better themselves through education by becoming an adult learner support volunteer and, from there, became a Student Governor on the Board of Governors at my local adult college whilst bettering myself with several courses at the same establishment.

In 2009 my efforts went one step further to encompass the betterment of my local community by organising and presenting a depression awareness event that aimed to dispel the myths surrounding depression, give people a better impression of those with the condition and build a sense of community within the depressive community and beyond.  This was followed up in 2010 with a more generalised mental health awareness event which, although didn’t get the community bums-in-seats I was hoping to get, did smooth the way to inter-organisational referrals that helped a number of individuals.  I will never know how many people were truly helped by that second event because figures weren’t kept.

Back in 2009, I also became the Chair of the Thurrock Mental Health Service User and Carer Forum which had, due to the uncertainty of its support systems, was in a poor state and in the following 22 months tried to build it up into something that could sustain itself if the members wanted to do so.  I wrote a constitution and tried to run the group in such a way that maximised its effectiveness (whether I was successful I will leave others to judge).

I also became a columnist on my local news website, Your Thurrock, in 2009. Starting off with mental health and spreading to more general topics, it was only in 2010 that I set my focus on politics.  The debates between the leaders of the main parties awakened my political interest and, when the worst happened and the Tories got into power helped by the treacherous Lib Dems, I used my column to highlight the injustices that were to follow from that victory.  I highlighted the injustice of the Bedroom Tax, the lack of a true mandate for the Tories to govern and other issues but all I got was abuse from the Right-wingers who branded me, at one point, a “communist” because I’m a supporter of the welfare system and hold the bankers who caused the world banking crisis in contempt.  I got very little support from Left-wingers, who should have rallied to my defence, and what I did get was rather lacklustre.

Despite the fact that many of my columns seemed to be Left-wing, I am, in fact, non-partisan and try to remain as impartial as possible as people would have seen if Labour had re-taken power and the ferociousness with which I would have attacked Labour for any mistakes or hateful policies they tried to enact.  This was something that I didn’t have a chance to show given that I only started talking about politics in the aftermath of the Tory victory in 2010 and something that my Right-wing critics seem to ignore because it would weaken their position.

2010 was an especially busy year for me as I joined a mental health service user involvement project that sought to train service users to go out and obtain the information required by the Mental Health Commissioners of Essex to put the money where it was most needed in terms of the services it commissioned.  For the three years of the project, I and many others travelled Essex to get the information we needed to improve the services for the mental health community of Essex.  After three long years and many broken promises by the Commissioners later, the project failed spectacularly, resulting in no improvements and giving the service users who did the work in good faith a bad reputation within the mental health service user community.  We did good work and got burned for it.

In 2012/13, I became involved with a local university’s service user and carer involvement programme for their Social Work Faculty.  I did good work trying to improve the readiness of the social work students for the ‘real world’ beyond their lecture rooms and to give them the sufferer perspective on depression.  I was praised for the work I did by lecturers and students alike and then I got dumped by the programme in 2014 for daring to use an expletive in one of my sessions which was, in fact, a direct quote from a social worker about his or her own service user which led to her suicide.  A Left-wing, nanny State policy was used to stop me from participating in work that would have improved the service provided to thousands.  I was burned, discarded and left psychologically devastated at a time when I was also in the middle of a teacher training course I was taking to help me underpin the work I was doing at the university whilst also going through a divorce and in imminent danger of losing my disability benefits.

Due to the circumstances I found myself in back in 2014 with all my good work left behind me in ashes, I disappeared from public view not wanting to waste my efforts on an increasingly hostile world.  I would return to my isolation to observe Humanity’s fall from grace.

I have watched the UK get torn apart by the Tory insistence on chipping away at every fault line, pitting one group against another, until the whole edifice of UK society started to crumble.  Demonising groups of individuals is their method to make their draconian policies palatable for the gullible masses and they have succeeded beyond their wildest dreams.

The EU Referendum was the final nail in the coffin for the UK’s soul because it chipped away at the one fault line left that even the Tories couldn’t control and allowed the Ultra-Right-wing to get a foothold in the country.  Hate fuelled by the Tories between different groups led to a nasty campaign that has allowed race-hatred to flourish alongside hatred towards the sick, the disabled, the poor and the jobless.

Despite my decision to isolate myself from the rest of society, I did get involved in a couple of marches in London and I have spoken out through my blog but what I have done has been largely ignored so I returned to my isolation and my role as the observer of The Fall.

The Tories are now going towards the Ultra-Right despite what some commentators say and they are now more openly fascistic than they were, bolstered no doubt by the rise of the Ultra-Right forces and sentiments within certain groups.

The one glowing beacon of hope was the election of Jeremy Corbyn as leader of the Labour Party but, scared by the danger he poses to the status quo, he is being systematically attacked by elements outside his party and from within.  Corbyn may have huge support but I’m afraid that, in such a hostile environment, he may not be able to turn things around.  Without a significant miracle, the UK’s soul is already lost to the Ultra-Right.

Having been abused by the Right and burned by the Left, I now sit outside the battle and have no reason or inclination to get involved again.  Should the future of an Ultra-Right-wing UK become a reality, I will surely be one of those who will be earmarked for the UK’s version of ‘The Final Solution’ because of my depression and I will die (as this is my fondest wish since the age of 11, I don’t see this as a negative thing) and so I see no reason to fight.  If a miracle happens and Corbyn’s supporters turn the tide, I will be safe but remain depressed.  I have no stake in the future as I have no children and I will be either dead at the hands of British Nazis or safe but forever depressed so, again, no real reason to get involved in what I increasingly see as your fight as I no longer feel a part of the human race.

The problem is, the threat to Humanity’s soul has spilled out into other countries and it could have been avoided if people had learned the lessons of history.  The Ultra-Right is in ascendance and Humanity has only itself to blame.

I tried to warn people and they ignored me.  I’m not a crank who believes he can see the future; I’m a man who tries to learn the lessons of history.  I could see history being repeated and can extrapolate the future that will evolve from current events if they are not changed.

Hitler was far from an aberration as he was once thought as.  Hitler was the forerunner of the dark times ahead for Humanity.

I will rise or fall with Humanity but I have tried to do my bit to improve lives and society and failed.  The fight is yours alone now because I’m out.