SUPPORT: Actions louder than words

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I fully support everything Anne-Marie Trevelyan said about the importance of support for those with autism and their families in the Commons debate (Northumberland Gazette, April 28).

However, the article has prompted me to share with your readers an email I sent to Mrs Trevelyan on March 17, also sent to Scott Dickinson and Julie Porksen.

“I am writing to you regarding your support for cuts to disability benefits. I have read your defence for these changes in the Gazette where you claim the £30 figure is based on a misunderstanding of the policy, but I still can’t see how this actually helps a group who are among the most vulnerable in society.

“I am the mother of a 25-year-old son who lives in London. He has a long-standing eye condition, which flared up just after Christmas, and he has been unable to do his job since – he describes what he can see as like ‘when you open your eyes under water’.

“He gets about £87 a week statutory sick pay – he doesn’t know for how long.

“I have been amazed at his resilience and positivity. He is attempting to supplement his income by building up a career as a freelance writer – it’s hard to think of much else he can do – with his nose against the computer screen and his girlfriend and I checking his articles because he can’t see errors.

“On Friday I went down to attend an appointment at the Western Eye Hospital with him – as you can imagine it’s difficult to negotiate busy roads, crowded pavements and public transport when you see only a blur.

“He waited over two hours for a 10-minute consultation, resulting in a repeat prescription and another appointment in eight weeks’ time when he may be fitted for a hard contact lens in one eye, the other is too sensitive.

“My son is lucky. He is not relying on PIP (yet), he has at least the possibility of treatment, a supportive girlfriend and a family who can help him out a little financially.

“But the experience has made me realise how difficult it is for those with disabilities – all the extra hurdles to be negotiated in just living, the loss of pleasures, the financial impact, together with a strained NHS (I heard only yesterday that eye specialists have claimed that many people will unnecessarily lose their sight because the system is under such a strain, and this is not ‘scaremongering’, I have seen it), plus widespread misunderstanding and discrimination.

“We are all just an accident or an illness away from finding this out first-hand.

“The disabled should not be bearing the brunt of cuts – £30 a week is not a lot to a person in the 40 per cent tax bracket, but for many it is the difference between surviving and giving-up.

“I am not and have never been a Conservative, but there are those in your own party who take a similar view.”

My son has had two cancelled appointments due to NHS staff shortages and is no further forward in getting treatment or support.

I received thoughtful and supportive replies from Julie Porksen and Scott Dickinson.

There was no response from Anne-Marie Trevelyan, but checking her voting record on theyworkforyou.com I found she has consistently voted against financial support for the sick and disabled.

I have always thought actions speak louder than words, or as my dad would say, ’fine words butter no parsnips’.

J Maddison,

Lesbury Road,

Hipsburn