Depression Alliance, West Hampstead, 1st Wednesday of the Month
Firstly, yesterday brought some pale news as it was decided that the Highbury & Islington, New Unity group be “suspended.” Although a review meeting was called, only 1 person turned up, which meant I was left feeling slightly embittered and rather disappointed, as the group meant a lot to us – or so I thought. That said, we move on to the next chapter which is Depression Alliance.
Having arrived slightly later than expected, I was surprised to find out that the turn out was not as large as forecast and yet, this did not substract from the experience. After the initial introductions, our discussion expanded to touch upon, and eventually centre around housing and atos, after one lady explaining that they had rejected her claim, and therefore, she had to initiate a second appeal. It was claimed that ATOS does not always use medical doctors, and that their points system was uncaring, and indifferent to the circumstances of individuals.
We tried to make sense out of the “cuts”, which, a person explained, were justified by the “national debt”, and yet, as was also advanced, surly there was a better way to distribute wealth, in any case. There was also a lot of talk about comparing the living standards in Britain with other places. We realised that our disposable income has led to extravagance and flamboyance in purchasing and consumption patterns, and also sympathised with enterprising people who live “free” by using their wits.
An interesting point was when it was suggested that our surplus income, used to purchase “luxuries” from large corporations, in turn, empowers them to further lord over us, somewhat suggesting that if we didn’t hand out money to ‘the beast’, they would have less tools at their disposal, to draw upon when they sought to victimise us. It was also advanced that the common people, especially those in the public/voluntary sector could rarely afford to do more than their basic job requirements, whilst covering their backs. It was as if the inequity was layered, and structured into the regime.
It was explained that some homeless people, prefer to be on the streets rather than as part of hostels, as they so despise the environment. This stimulated discussion about previous living conditions whereby, in this country, if people were not working, and were vagabonding, if they were stopped three times, they could be arrested and made to serve a bond. Also, other peoples were simply warehoused in “poor houses” and made to work under terrible conditions.
There was talk about the welfare trap, whereby if you work, you can often take home less money thanyou do on the dole, as a lady explained how, when she was working 16 hours, she still had to pay poll tax, whilst any additional time she did was simply put on the national insurance contribution list. At this point, there was mention of Focus E15 and the methods used by some of the younger people attempting to “supplement” their income.
Maybe they will soon house people in India, just as they have externalised jobs
If you are just coping with the pressures, they do not intervene, however, if you breakdown, either getting imprisoned or hospitalised, then they come in and “take care” of the management of your affairs – doing so in such a way, you feel disempowered, which itself, was the reason for your breakdown
*We didn’t manage to get to the Yumcha cafe group in Camden, however, we aim to be there for their meeting on hte 20th, in two weeks time. (7pm-8pm)