About two years ago I started suffering from extreme anxiety due to the pressure of my work as a college tutor combined with my caring duties for my mum. This triggered a severe panic attack and also severe alopoecia. My doctor of 20 years and my counsellor both said I was unfit for work. My medication also means that I feel very tired and have poor concentration for large parts of the day. I was placed on ESA and had to attend an ATOS ‘assessment’. I wasn’t able to travel in on my own, on the bus or by foot, due to my fear of having another panic attack; my mum, who I was meant to be caring for, cared for me and brought me in by car, despite being in pain with her own condition and needing to rest several times on the short walk from the car to the assessment centre. The first impression I had of an ATOS centre was seeing the TV tuned to ‘The Jeremy Kyle‘ show at full volume in reception, watched by a bored security guard. This increased my levels of anxiety even further as I waited and my mum had to ask for it to be switched off. When I entered the interview room I answered all the questions as truthfully as possible whilst the ‘assessor’ ticked his little boxes on a PC.
My report said that I was able to work and that ‘I underestimated my ability to concentrate on work tasks’. This was despite the report saying that I was very subdued in the assessment and looked extremely anxious, despite me telling the ‘assessor’ that the very reason I was suffering from severe anxiety was because I was trying to combine a job with caring for my mum.
ever told this by anybody at ATOS or at Jobcentreplus; I was just another statistic, boosting ATOS’s performance profits and meeting government targets. I know this; I worked for Jobcentreplus Head Office as an Executive Officer for eight years.
This experience is one of the many reasons I am now fighting the government’s cuts; their desire to move genuinely disabled and incapacitated people into a workfare style scheme that takes no account of their condition is merely a way for the government to make an easy target, people who did not cause our social and economic crisis, pay for it.
Don’t let them make the people of this country an easy target. Don’t let them forget the effects of their atrocious policies on real flesh, blood and minds. On real people who refuse to be treated like crap.
Show them that we have the guts to fight back.