SUPPORT: Actions louder than words

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).

Saturday, 7th May 2016, 10:30 am

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.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

“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