I Couldn't Care Less: Drawing a Line

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A hypodermic needle and a vial

Drawing a Line

Let's start with some good news. You may remember last week I mentioned that we are chasing the appeal we made back in (if my memory serves me correctly) November. Well I got call the other day from a chap at a charity called Redeeming Our Communities to say that he had been on to the Department for Work and Pensions, and that they have agreed to backdate our claim to the day it was filed – on the grounds that we have dated copies of the paperwork we filed in good faith, and it isn't our fault that they lost it. The next day they wrote to us to say that they were striving to provide an efficient and excellent service and, with this in mind, they had lost our paperwork. Could we please fill in a fresh set and send it back to them as soon as possible? Thanks.

This, and many of the additional complaints that I will make over the next few lines are troublesome to everyone. So to anyone concerned or involved in any of the forthcoming I would like to submit the request on behalf of absolutely everyone: stop doing this! It's really annoying and wastes a shed load of time and causes nothing but stress and anxiety. But this, as so often, is more serious for carers. For some, like me, it is an added drain on time, energy and emotional harmony that I could do without. For many, especially older carers (of whom there are plenty, unsurprisingly if you think about it) much of the business of driving them on to the internet to get things done is, as I am about to explain, frustrating and supremely difficult.

So much of what I have been trying to do this week is either easier online or actively demands it. I have been trying to sign on this week, as a result of redundancy. You can't do this by any other means than the internet. I don't know if this is unusual to my area, but my local jobcentre (yes, it's all one word) plus (a job centre with extra caffeine) simply won't let you. This presents numerous problems. What if you haven't got internet access? Maybe you can't afford it, or maybe, an issue especially true for older people, you don't like it and don't want it. I grew up with the internet as a fact of life from the age of about 16. If you didn't have the internet as young as I did (plenty of people couldn't, and still can't afford it) or you are older than me, or simply didn't use it as much as I did, then you simply aren't going to have got used to it in the way that I, and plenty of my contemporaries, did. That's not a criticism – nobody ever announced that from 2010 everything would be done via the internet and that you were all going to have to jolly well get a computer and learn how to surf the net with it. Nobody ever released a formal statement to the effect that everything was going to be one hell of a lot quicker and easier online, and that a lack of internet access was going to suddenly seem like a social disease, which froze you out from the rest of society.

Of course, there is free public internet access, but it is limited. Very limited. You can get online via your local library, assuming your local library hasn't closed. If it has, then you can always get a bus to your nearest town with a library, assuming you van afford it. In that case you can probably get up to an hour, providing there is a computer available, and you'll be surprised how little you can get done in an hour, especially if you're not computer literate and not handy with a keyboard. It can take an hour, if someone helpful is there to show you how, just to create an e-mail account. And there isn't a lot you can do if you haven't got one of those.

Oh, and there is just one more thing. Sometimes, often in fact, people just want to speak to a human being. Over the phone would do, although face to face is easier. A lot of these wretched forms you want us to fill in and numbers you need us to remember and sums you want us to calculate are long and torturous and confusing. We don't understand all this complex terminology and we'd really like someone who actually wants to help who is on hand to explain it to us.

Is that so much to ask?

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