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e-mail Letter to My MP

October 8, 2013

Dear  Sarah Wollaston
I Find myself writing to you in shear desperation because I feel I have few places to turn at this point, So I am sorry to bother with this, but I know you used to be a GP and now an MP so I feel maybe I should trust you enough to tell you how I got to where I am, and how I need help not a slap in the face as I keep getting from job centre and working links these days. All I want to do is feel like I’m worth something not feel like I’m baggage no one wants to carry.

I feel you maybe the only person that might beable to help save for  Adrian Sanders MP for Torquay as well. I am one of the people that lives in your Constituency of the south hams area you cover.  Sadly I have the misfortune of being unemployed  with jobs in my area only popping up in the summer and even then they prefer to take on the 16-18 year olds due the minimum wage levels and polish people who they say work harder then brits. so finding work in my early 30s is a challenge  To this end both my partner and I tried to go self employed But it seems that both the job centre and now working links seek only to prevent this many times we have tried to get on courses that will help us understand how to structure a business plan and with all those other basic things that you need to know that could be the be all and end all of any good idea if you don’t know them.
To top this all off I am also being hit very badly by the badly nick named “bed room tax.” When I moved back into Blackawton from the kingsbridge area in 04 I had been made homeless by my then privet land lord who had kicked me and my now Ex-husband out as he wanted to sell the flat on, lucky I’d had my name on the housing list for sometime and got offered 2 places before the problem with the land lord, sadly at the time they were to far away from my then place of work and then later my mother who was disabled. Then what at the time I thought was luck I was given a 3rd choice for housing but also told that if I didn’t take it they would not offer me another, being as I was about to be on the streets and the house was just down the road from my mother who once again needed my help to care for her, my ageing father and my younger teen brother I jumped at it. Sadly it takes a bad turn from there. within a few months of moving in, things turned bad with my now ex and we split up, he went back to the USA leaving me with all his debts, less then 3 months later both my parents died, my dad with a heart attack and then my mum a week or two later with pneumonia, leaving me with a 15 year old brother with mild C.P. needless to say at 22 just turned 23 I couldn’t cope with it, I dropped out of work, out of Education as I had been doing since I was 16 due to being the carer for my mother. I tried to take care of my brother but with nasty family feuds going on and some nasty slander from an older sibling who effectively told the family I’d killed our mother, which is not true I left the hospital to get some rest after being there all night and because I had all my mothers animals to take care of as well, she’d died in Torbay hospital about an hour after I returned home. so needless to say things became very uneasy between me and my younger brother and it wound up in the end with him in youth care until he turned 18  because I simply could not cope with it all, and with no support from my family thanks to the older sibling I was left with out any kind of income.
It was 3 months before someone realised I had not been seen at south hams lifestyle meetings when someone finally came and  helped. Thanks to all the problems I became stuck deeper in housing arrears, due to over calculations while I was living in the kingsbridge area, then again later when they stopped payments and I had no means of contacting them because I didn’t even have the money for a postage stamp, bus fair and no phone line, I was very much cut off from the outside world. Not to mention being stuck in dark places with in my own mind due to just about everything.  I finally got put onto income based JAS, which I have been on and off of since 06 to present day, I met my current partner in 07 at A4E newton abbot, he could not believe how I was living, I was well below the poverty line as it was costing me £40+ a week to get to A4E and they wouldn’t pay you back until the end of a week by that time I’d often run out of food and they would skim £4 off your travel fare before paying it back.  This obviously got me into more health problems that resulted in me falling down some stairs and just unable to get out to the bus because it hurt that much to walk that hill out to the main road. and shocking still this was while we were still under the labour government.
After a while my Parter just upped and moved in and our JSA became a new claim taking us off of A4E and put us back into the job centre as a joint claim. all kinds of trouble come with joint claims as for some reason their system is unable to deal with it even they don’t know why up to this present day. I’m still in arrears with my rent and so still unable to move to a sadly  smaller place (that doesn’t exists because social haven’t been building places for 1 or 2 person(s)) because of those arrears and with the “bed room tax” (sorry I don’t know what its proper name is) that situation is only getting worse for me.

I was last employed at Woodlands leisure park in 2011 and I have to say I very much enjoyed working again even though it was only a summer job, but I felt like I was useful again, like I was worth something even if it was to just families and kids looking to have fun for a day on rides, every smile on a face meant to me I was doing a good job and that to me was worth more then the low minimum wage I was being paid for the work.
I now work as a volunteer in our local village shop to help out the community because I know how munch its needed out here in the rural back water of Devon. you yourself have had some dealings with said shop. (thank you  very much for your support with that).
Now I see my situation yet to worsen, I understand why we needs cuts and so on, but dose this excuse ill people treatment by people at the job centre and working links? I can’t even get out to my Doctors in Dartmouth as they’ve stopped their out reach surgery, I don’t think I’ve seen them since 05 after my parents died. We have one of the Lords saying the poor need to learn to go with out. Well I’ve been going with out for years, mostly the essentials like health care, food and sometimes Electric which powers everything in the house I’m in including the heating. I don’t bother with the most up to date gadget or designer liable cloths, I get what I can afford from charity shops, had me downs and jumble sales, and even then only after I have saved a few pounds to do it.
But now I find myself in a nasty situation and I am feeling trapped and desperate. Both my partner and I are still wanting very much to go self employed as from what we can see its the only viable long term solution. we asked if we could change providers and be moved to a thing called Project ego, Job centre wouldn’t do that and working links wouldn’t give the referral as out-set can only help if we set up in Torbay.
Now we have problems with appointments and working links in Torbay.
Because according to working links a rearranged appointment (even given a week or more’s notice) is a missed appointment. Never mind that you rearranged it, They count it as missed. That’s one half of my “missed appointments” the other half of these “missed” appointments I’ve got with working links are where they have failed to tell me I even have an appointment with them! Telling me On the day 30mins or more after I was meant to be attending them to me is NOT due notice! and  what’s worse this happens a lot, and not just to me!
I have lost count of the amount of times I have told working links that due to our rural location we need a minimum of 48hours notice to travel to Torquay. This just so we can get the money out from our outreach post-office (and sometimes beg my partners mother for money and give them time to put it in our bank) to attend these appointments.
The reason for that is so that we do not miss the bus that would get us there for the times they set. and sometimes they ask us to be there as early as 9am, that’s a 5am get up to get everything done before leaving the house at 6:30 to catch the 7:05am bus, that often still doesn’t make it to Torquay until gone 9:30am IF it shows up at all.
Now we’re being told we missed another one last Wednesday, AFTER our adviser e-mailed us on a Wednesday telling us we had to see her at 12Pm Wednesday at 11:45am the same day. I’m sorry there is no way I can get from my home to working links in 15 mins I’m a 2 hour bus trip away! Its 2 hours and 45 mins if you take into account the walking to the bus stop on the main road.
so now our adviser as booked us onto a “helping you to find work” course told us its mandatory for Wednesday 9/10/13. Guess what, its our Sign on the same day at the same time as the “course”, and will she help out? NO! just gives us grief that if we don’t turn up the job centre will be notified about the missed appointments! All she’s got to do is phone the  job centre and tell them we’re on a course and we can’t make it to our job centre to sign on and get us excused because well be in Torquay not Totnes where our job centre is. She seems expects us to be able to be in 2 places at the same time and makes our life hell if we say sorry but I can’t do two places at once, or Sorry but there is just no way I can make that time.
I’ve tried the following;
1: complained to the manger (it got worse ad turned into a heated debate)
2: complained to the people above the manager (Life became more hellish with them and I got a letter from working links telling me its my fault.)
3: complained to the DWP (who did the same as the response in 2)
4: asked to change providers at job centre, got fobbed of and got a week of them messing about with my JSA
5; Sent you a letter regarding this sort of thing in the post (got no response so I’m assuming it may have gotten lost)
6: now E-mailing you in the hopes you get it.

I’m sorry to burden you with all this Sarah, and I thank you for your time in reading this. But I really don’t know where else to turn I have already tried the complaints system they have in place, and I don’t feel they even look into it, because the replies come back in far to quickly and it’s like their are just slapping you in the face and telling you to get lost basically.

Yours sincerely
Annabella Laws and David Roach.

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