Meg T on 08 November 2020

Firstly, because I have been working as a freelance commentator and writer under the DWP's permitted work rules I actually earned enough money of the past couple of months to pay off my remaining creditor via my Step Change debt charity debt repayment plan. It was a momentous day and having managed to pay off my remaining debts eight months early I thought I'd feel elation. Instead I felt really hollow and empty which I found strange. I think it's probably due to this being in a state of unknown whether or not I would be dragged back into poverty again. It means that I can now pay back my middle son to whom I have owed a substantial amount of money for the past four years or so. However since he began working he has been living with me rent free because I didn't feel I could ask him for room and board money because I owed him money in the first place. This was ran in contrary to watch the debt charity had advised me to do, but because his attitude towards paying rent on board was so bad at times I didn't dare ask so as not to upset the boat. Financial issues played a part in blowing apart what was our very close relationship, which saddened me greatly. It was a reminder of the past when I had been subjected to financial of abuse by my ex-husband. Working with StepChange to resolve my debts was one of the hardest things I had to do. Even though the budget was worked out, I found it very difficult to stick to particularly during periods of low mood and depression. Furthermore although they factored in an amount each month for emergencies it still wasn't sufficient to cover unforeseen expenditures so I still had to borrow money for instance when I had to replace a car tyre one week which blew my budget for food shopping. Another thing I found startling when I telephoned the charity to pay off my debt was how difficult it was to get through on the phone lines. They were inundated to the point that they weren't answering calls any more and you had to call back later but with no clear idea of when later would be suitable. I really do think that the COVID pandemic has put a huge spanner in the finances of those in perilous work situations by which I mean zero hours contracts, irregular hours or been put on furlough and the demand for StepChange services has increased exponentially. Secondly, I was scheduled to have spinal surgery at Leeds General infirmary on Monday, 2 November. However despite self isolating with my 15-year-old son for the two weeks before to ensure I was covered free before going into hospital, I was cancelled even though my surgery is considered urgent and I have been waiting since August for a theatre slot. This is the second time it's been cancelled. Of course it is right and proper that given we now are experiencing a second wave of Covid infection, that any hospital beds go to those acutely unwell with Covid and also other emergencies. I myself would potentially be in a precarious position health wise should I contract Covid so am glad I don't have that worry. The downside is that I, with this chronic incurable spinal cord condition, Degenerative Cervical Myelopathy, have to face the prospect of further pain, fatigue and paralysis as I have no idea when I will be rescheduled. Although surgery would not be a cure from my condition it would prevent loss of what function remains if I was treated in a timely fashion. I have been deteriorating for a couple of years now but was only seen at the beginning of this year. Although I wasn't looking forward to surgery because it would have been more complex and painful than the first time round I had it, it is necessary to go through it to stand any chance of preserving function. Instead I feel destined for a life of increased disability, which cannot be helped but the recourse to disability benefits is not an easy one to navigate and I do not relish the prospect of losing what disability benefits I have if my current reassessment due to deterioration is rejected. It would be difficult to contemplate appealing for a fourth time for financial assistance if I receive zero points yet again. Society is not suitably accessible enough - too many businesses only pay lip service towards disability access issues. It's infuriating.

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