Baby, it’s cold outside…

Whilst I wait very nervously for the exit polls I think it can be time for more giving. My second festive charity of the month is Sleep Pod.

Sleep pod tent

They aim to provide sleep pod tents to homeless people across the UK & Europe. Since 2010 homelessness in the UK has risen 169%. People are literally dying on our streets. One of the biggest causes of death is exposure. These tents can help people make it through the winter.

Sleep pod tents

This isn’t a long term solution (please get out & vote), but it will keep people alive. If you can afford to do so, please make a donation. I am so grateful to have roof over my head especially in these cold, wet winter months. Providing even temporary shelter is a step to combat this crisis.

Twinkly lights with text please give generously

Please let me get what I want this time…

I know lots of you have election fatigue. Our political landscape seems desolate. Truth & right & consequences appear to have become blurred. I understand if you are sick of it. I get it if you feel like you can’t make a difference. However, this election is literally life or death for many people. Your vote matters. Please use it.

I’m making a genuine plea for myself and for societal good. I beg you, don’t vote Tory. Brexit is and can only ever be a disaster. The NHS is on its knees, food bank usage has soared, homeless people are dying on our streets, child poverty continues to rise. The most vulnerable members of our society are being crushed by the conservative government. The savaging of our welfare system is purposeful & ideological. It is not possible to opt out of sickness, unemployment or ageing. Even if you vote purely for your own well being, the Tories are not in your corner. You never know when you may need the services & rights they are systematically destroying.

Please don’t vote Tory in white letters in green background

You have to look beyond the headlines & media smears. Corbyn is not an extreme left maniac. He has a fully costed manifesto of common sense labour policies. He wants to create a fairer society for all. He’s fighting for wages you can live on, a roof over everyone’s head & food in our bellies. He wants the incredibly wealthy to pay their share (at a rate that will not make any significant difference to their lives). The labour manifesto will secure our health service. Corbyn is not perfect. Frankly, I have major issues with his views on Scotland, but he is our best bet. He is principled man who has been consistently on the right side of the fight. He is trying to improve life for everyone.

I ask you to approach this election like a bus journey. If there isn’t a direct bus to your exact destination you find the next best option. You get the bus that takes you as close as you can get. A vote for the conservatives will only drive us into a ditch. Liberal Democrats have already shown us what they do with power. We have to be tactical. Vote for Labour or whoever can beat the Tories in your constituency. Only opt for other parties in areas where it can not benefit the conservatives.

We have a chance for real change. Please don’t let it slip away.

Save the NHS, don’t vote Conservative…

I had been having a rough couple days pain wise when things took a turn for the worst last night. By 7pm I was experiencing such intense pain that I could not cope. I have a number of chronic conditions & so live with daily pain. However, this was extreme & unbearable. Luckily for me I have access to the NHS. I called NHS24, after speaking to a nurse I was given an immediate appointment with an out of hours gp at my local hospital. I was seen swiftly by a nurse who checked my vitals & then by the GP who examined me. He concluded I had a possible infection, which combined with a flare of my stomach problems was creating the pain. My heart rate was also too fast, so he made me an emergency gp appointment with my regular dr this morning. He also wrote me a prescription for antibiotics & oramorph. 
Fast forward a couple of hours, I am in my own bed with completely manageable pain level. No longer throwing up or feeling scared. After a reasonable night’s sleep, my gp checked me over again, took bloods & referred me for further tests. Put simply, the NHS is a marvel. 

I am so incredibly grateful to have to expert care 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Sure, our national health service had problems (many caused by Tory policies), but it still a remarkable assest. As someone with chronic health problems I rely on the NHS. I could not cope without it. In truth I doubt I would survive very long without free at point of access healthcare. I could not afford to pay for the 2 or three medical appointments I need each week. I would never manage to pay the unsubsidised costs of my many medications. Frequent hospital stays & tests would be beyond me. My pre existing conditions would make health insurance difficult to obtain & ultimately prohibitively expensive. Without the care I receive from the NHS, I would suffer greatly & possibly die. 

My story is not unique. There are millions of people who rely on our health service to survive. Beyond that there are all the people who can’t afford co-pays & prescription charges for our if the blue illnesses. Even if you are super healthy & financially stable disaster can strike at any time. No one can predict when their health might take a hit. Cancer, car accidents, depression, job loss & a million other conditions can happen to anyone. Life changing events rarely come with a warning. You never know when you or someone you love might need medical care. We all need the NHS. 

Does anyone want to live in society that puts money before saving lives? Do you want parents to be unable to take their sick child to the dr because they cannot pay the bill? Do you want insurance companies to have the deciding say on what treatment you can access? If the answer to these questions is no, please use your vote. If you care about the vulnerable & less fortunate members of your community, please do not vote conservative. 

When you step into that booth today, make saving the NHS part of your decision. Accessible health care for all is fundamental to a fair society. Please, vote for whichever candidate can beat The Conservatives in your constituency. 

Mental Health Platitude Week…

It’s National Mental Health Awareness Week again. Regular readers will probably have spotted how I feel about this sham, but for the avoidance of doubt I’m going to go at it once more. I ask you to forgive my lack of finesse. I’m riddled with infections, haven’t slept & more than a little frustrated with the subject matter.

Some of you may be thinking, wait, raising awareness about mental health is great. You are of course correct, but this week (& most mainstream MH campaigns) is just lip service. At best it’s platitudes & at worst it’s dangerous. If you check the hashtag on social media you’re going to see a lot of posts extolling the virtue of talking about your troubles. Talk will apparently cure all that ailes you. Ask for help & you shall receive. Pro Tip, It won’t & you won’t. 

On the help front you’ll be up against the limitations of the NHS. Cuts to mental health services have been particularly brutal. Even if you have the good luck to access a Gp who takes you seriously & correctly refers you in a prompt manner, your wait will be long. What’s worse is that the correct help is unlikely to be at the end of your wait. A shocking lack in resources of every kind results in most people being offered short courses of cheap therapies like CBT. It will come as no surprise that with mental illness one size does not fit all.

 Even in acute circumstances there are no psychiatric beds available. Many people have to travel long distances to access inpatient psychiatric care. Meaning they are far from family, friends & comforts in their darkest moments. If you’re a child or adolescent those resources only get scarcer. So, that’s frightened children waiting in misery to access services that may be of no use to them anyway. All of which is a far cry from just talk & salvation awaits. 

As depressing as all that is I haven’t even broached the fact some people never get as far as a waiting list. For many there is no sympathetic ear. Their gigantic leap of faith is met with ignorance. Employers do still discriminate against the disabled. There are still Dr’s who will tell a person to pull themselves together. The worst stigma I ever faced was from medical professionals. All of which means awareness is great, but money is better. Proper funding is the answer to our mental health crisis & it is that is what we should be talking about. 

The money problem doesn’t end with NHS funding. Our government is trying to eradicate disability benefits for mental illness entirely. The process of applying for PIP or ESA is exhaustive. The categories for qualifying are constantly shrinking. Our benefits system currently subjects vulnerable & very sick individuals to the most humiliating process in order to survive. That mental illnesses are purposely targeted for exclusion is government sanctioned stigma. Ah, I hear you cry, we do need awareness.  Well here’s the thing, we don’t need the bullshit being touted by the mainstream orgs. All those articles about exercise & healthy eating & a hot baths & nice cups of tea are just shoring up that stigma. The idea that mental illness can be cured by any of those things minimises it’s very nature. It encourages the notion that people with long term mental health problems just aren’t trying hard enough. That in turn legitimises the governments disgusting witch hunt. 

And we’re right back to my original point. Awareness is fine, but real change is the key. If you truly want to make a difference you need to tell your elected representatives that mental illness is a key issue for you. Sign petitions, attend marches, get informed. Read the difficult articles. By all means challenge stigma when it crosses your path & listen to anyone who chooses you as a confident. Do all of those of things, but I want to be clear, there is one crucial thing that will hand more impact than anything else, DO NOT VOTE TORY.