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I Can't Breathe

Last week I almost had to decide whether I could breathe, or feed the kids. Whilst waiting to be paid for some work, I realised my Pre-Payment Certificate (PPC) had run out at the same time as my asthma medication. The PPC is £104 for 12 months, as against the £25.80 I have to pay monthly for three inhalers (£309.60 over a year: so I save about £205). I had to borrow money just to get through this month. I feel like I’ve wasted money on being healthy.

The main reason I see for all this bureaucracy, is that it discourages people from applying. I remember being in tears trying to justify ‘dying from cancer’ to the benefits’ departments, then justifying ‘surviving it’ to ATOS (“Just how dying are/were you?”), and then a tribunal where the original ‘fuck off and die’ was overturned.

It feels like the current government are happy letting people die, as this is how they know to make money. Wait long enough for a family member to die and we all get money, don’t we? It’s the only way I can explain Jeremy Hunt’s desire to fuck the NHS. On top of that, a lot of people are led to believe they are a burden (spongers and strivers) and hence don’t like to complain, for fear of being labelled a benefit leech.

“You should budget better!” are the cries of people who’ve never survived on a diet of Home Bargains’ Koko 25p noodles for a week, and have two kids whose tastes can change during the time it takes to walk from the stove to the table. They should be thankful you can’t ‘really’ hit kids anymore.

“Work harder! Pull your bootstraps up!” is another one that irks, I currently juggle three sporadic jobs, around my fourth of Child Wrangler (I would like to apologise to my mum for what a twat I must have been as a kid). It’s an arse that regular jobs don’t fit around school hours: so someone has to pick them up, or pay more for after-school care. At one point, all the money I earned went on 12 hours of nursery a week, essentially so I could tidy the house.

It seems churlish to bemoan having to scrimp and save to pay to take a show about having cancer to Edinburgh (The Big C, 5pm, Waverley Bar - every day of the festival except 16th). But it’s pissing me off seeing talented mates struggle to have enough cash to try and further themselves, in a career that seems to be rapidly becoming the bastion of those who not only can afford it; but can afford to fail.

Don’t get me wrong. This isn’t some “all rich people are bastards” rant. It’s more a plea for some people to stop telling other people to better their lives, then scream: “No! Not like that!” There are a lot of people in this industry whose problems aren’t just physical. This may be their only escape, and we need to let them breathe.

…Also, I’ve just realised I got my mum to proofread this earlier, forgetting I managed to apologise to her by using the word “twat”.

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I've started writing for a great new website 'Liverpool Etc.' Here's a piece the wrote about me!

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