I have crawled across roads….

This report  which I read recently on Facebook, is a chilling reminder of the real human cost of the government’s brutal cuts to the welfare bill.  (If the current administration were less wedded to the idiocy that is Trident, the costs of welfare would be affordable, but that’s another story.)

In what feels like a former life, I used to keep lists of everything we had to get done at weekends, when Eddie was free and had a car to drive us around in.  The nadir or my attempts to manage without a vehicle of my own, came one Saturday, when we spent the entire day in Eddie’s car, shuttling between the supermarket and the shops.  It was awful, and a chilling reminder of how much my life had reduced to a few very narrow windows of opportunity.

Woman reading at the station

With a young child, it is easier to spend the entire day at home making pancakes, drawing pictures or playing rowing games, but still. Mummy had to grow up and get her own transport, precisely because single tasks which took her three of four hours to manage by bus – going swimming, shopping, collecting from play-dates – would easily be managed in an hour or forty minutes by car.  Now, I can do three relatively trivial jobs in one morning, whereas one task used to take me all day.  That the jobs are trivial in no way diminishes the importance of getting them done, so that we can reach to others more worthwhile: laughing, having fun with friends, being happy.

So, now, once again, I and thousands like me face the prospect of fighting to maintain independence: my riding, my visits to the swimming pool and to the supermarket.  These are small pleasures, but vital to my health and sense of personal worth.  Do I want my life to recede?  Do I want to become a ghost palely loitering, gazing out at the world from the windows of my home, unable to get to even the simplest appointments?  Depression, anxiety, feelings of worthlessness all end up costing families – and the exchequer – dearly.

Light traces of a carousel

“Get a taxi” people say.  It costs a lot to rely on cabs.  Over the course of a year, thousands of pounds, which we don’t have, as a rule.  So, the alternative is to stay at home.  Which means, no job, no life, no socializing.  And, on occasion, the very real prospect of having to crawl across the road, rather than risk being run down by a bus.

Does the government think it is saving money, to take away all these specially adapted vehicles?  No, it is merely flooding the car market with lots of second hand vehicles that we desperately need to maintain any hope of a normal life, and which no-one else gives too hoots about.  The government is not saving money, merely postponing the costs, or shunting them sideways from the DWP onto other departments.  The government is wasting money to pursue a political stance that is false and damaging.  And ensuring that thousands of otherwise able and conscientious citizens are unable to participate in civil life, in civil debate and discourse.  Maybe we should stop being quite so polite, then, and become a little less civil.

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