Friday, 12 June 2015

OH GOD. A reference? I was really...

... really thinking how i could blog this.

But I shall....

I got a reference, and it goes a little something like this....

The first person I ever interacted with onTwitter about disability issues was Jules. Initially what we seemed to share was an innate and extreme dislike of Atos.  After my first tweet, I waited for the sky to fall on my head (like Asterix) but it did not happen and this started a conversation which has now lasted for almost 4 years.  Not that we talk every day or even every week.  But he is part of my twitter world, as is Biggles, his dog, who is getting on now, the aromatic food he is cooking, which smells good through his tweets, and many other details in his life, some confided in the middle of the night, as Jules has insomnia due to his treatment.  Because Jules is disabled. He suffers from a chronic illness which prevents him from working and he has to claim ESA. His intense dislike of Atos and of the WCA stems from his own experiences. Like many disabled people, Jules used to have a satisfying job before becoming ill but he now has to rely on the meager amount of money the government begrudgingly gives him to live on. Jules also runs a blog, which he maintains intermittently, sometimes questioning its usefulness, which is a shame, not only because it is informative but also because Jules uses a unique, colourful and multi-layered language, when he is not speaking to me in French (at the same time). 
For somebody using Twitter as often as he does, he is almost shy, definitely modest, and he can certainly get very grumpy, but that is part of his charm. But Jules illustrates perfectly the contribution disabled people can make in society and how valuable this contribution is. Because Jules is very knowledgeable and has an instant grasp of housing issues, when his health allows, he tries to help people in sorting out their problems.  He sees himself more as a facilitator than a problem solver, as the final decision is never his, but he tries to give a different perspective to an issue, by considering all the options and taking a wider view in order to help people work through it until they reach a solution they are comfortable with. Although on one level, this can give him a lot of satisfaction, the reality is that the constant exposure to other people’s problems, and sometimes despair, takes its toll. And so does life on ESA, with the daily frustrations of having too little money to afford what most people take for granted. But helping people also costs money, for technology, transport etc. which is why on Jules’s blog there is a Donate button he is too timid to talk about. Very often, Jules has to stop being a ‘helpy’ because he has run out of money. This should not happen. Jules incarnates the best of the BIG SOCIETY, one that Cameron could only dream of, which is not driven by self-interest or self-gratification, but by a genuine sense of empathy and of shared humanity.

And as he says: ‘A pound in Jules' life goes far further than you can imagine’  
(with love from Annie)

They asked me to blog it, embarrassed, i did.

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