The battle of my life…

This following statement I am writing in the hope that it may fall upon the person out there I need to help me in this dire situation…I am writing it for anyone to use, re-post (if you would? Thanks) and to anyone out there who might listen and help…

We live in a country where we thankfully have the NHS, the benefit system, thank goodness that IS in place to help-but as they have cut off my benefits till some kind of proof of something or other is provided, I am now in a dire situation and unable to feed my children…The system is NOT working for me, but against me…Surely we’re the ones they are put in place for???

After my husband Alex Wood, suffered a severe brain injury on the 4th October 2011, my life, now nearly a year on becomes not easier, but ever more fearful and stressful.

After a few weeks now of insane trials, fighting against the benefits system, fighting for funding for Alex and my head spinning with where to go next, I am now writing this as I have to take this a step higher…

Yes, Alex is making progress, and yes, we do have some kind of future, yes, I am 100% behind him and on the frontline battling for him to continue making this progress, but for Alex to continue making progress, caught up, now in the dependent position of being a ‘single mum’ of four, aged 8, 7, 6 and 4, in order for me as their mother to feed, clothe them, keep a roof over their heads, I am fully dependent on the benefits system, and reliant on the council finding us a council house adapted to Alex’s needs, now blind and severely disabled and cognitively impaired…

The council tell me ‘there are no properties suitable’…Will there ever be?? Alex can visit for extremely short periods only as he is restricted by the lack of access and is, in effect homeless, as he cannot be housed in the temporary house we are in…

The situation is, that I alone am now responsible for providing for our four young children, for fighting to get the right and sustained funds for Alex’s rehabilitation and re-education. I have to be everywhere, and have to be everything for everyone, whilst running a house and making sure the kids have clean clothes amongst a myriad other chores…Whilst living with indescribable grief at the loss of the husband that Alex used to be...

Surely the system is there to help people in difficult situations, that’s why it exists doesn’t it? But my experience is that it is there to hinder and after receiving a letter telling Alex he has a job interview on the 28th September which if he doesn’t attend could effect his benefit (Employment Support Allowance) is just more than ridiculous…They tell me when I ring the job centre they’ll do it over the phone instead…??? Do they not get it? He is utterly and completely incapable of this…!

I fight daily battles, not just on an emotional level facing the fact that my soul mate, my whirlwind romance, my everything, is not the man he was, and all the grief that leaves me to deal with, but surmounting this, then further battles with the benefits system, a car which is on its last legs and not having any idea how I would ever replace it…

The system clearly does not work for people who genuinely need it. And I genuinely do!

I am not sat about all day on my bum wondering what I can do today with peace and quiet…I am out there making calls, thinking of and organising fundraisers for my husband, planning things for the kids we can do for free to give them a good childhood. Counselling them as they need it, their dad is not the dad he once was, and they grieve this terribly, as do I.

So who can help me? Who will share this? Who will help me get this to the right people who can make a difference and take my story on board and care enough to do something about it?

I have written to Boris Johnson, he might help?

The local MP, John Howell, in Thame was not interested, one of his secretaries emailed me weeks after I sent a desperate plea saying they did not deal with cases like mine, to go to the council…This does effect him actually, he is a government MP, under the noses of the government I am (as the child tax credits have been put on hold till I provide a particular piece of evidence) a mother of four under eights with no access to funds to feed my children…

I am going to approach the Labour Thame MP with what he might be able to do in light of this.

If you can share this post, spread the word, that will be doing me a massive service…

I am turning my fear for not being able to provide for my kids into rage and action…in the frontline now as I need help to get Alex the right rehabilitation, not at the mercy of the NHS and the fear that the indefinite funds will one day run out, and he will not have the chance he needs.

I have to fight for him, I have to fight for my kids, any other mother out there in my situation would do the same.

Thank you for listening, thank you for sharing, and I hope this gets my story out there and Alex does get the chance he needs…


  1. Really sorry to read this. Do you have access to a Welfare department (usually part of your council) to give you advice on what support you can get. Is your partner entitled to ESA? Trussell Trust might have a food bank near you. Turn2us has a benefit checker and grant finder that might help (you can ring them too) and as you have a child under 5 Home Start could help you. I hope this helps in some way. You aren't alone & people care.

  2. Just re-read and your husband is classed with ESA. Get in touch with a welfare officer ASAP. Medical staff can write that he can't attend and make sure he's in the right banding/group to ease up on the stress.

  3. I have no real advice for you but just want you to know that people are reading & do care. What an amazing person you must be - i so hope you get the help and support you & your family deserve.

  4. So sorry to hear about the nightmare you are living - let the Thame Gazette know your story - having publicity will surely put pressure on the system that is causing you so much stress. K

  5. Get some support for yourself too. If you're not strong for yourself you won't be able to be strong for your loved ones.

  6. Good luck with this! What an awful fight you have on your hands and how unfair when so many people are getting benefits they don't need. I've seen your post RT'd at least three times this evening just on my little TL so hopefully someone will get it to the right people who can help make a difference.

  7. How hideous for you all! Shocking state of our country!! Will happily RT, wish there was more I could do

  8. Do sorry to hear this. Will try to spread the word x

  9. Totally feel for you. Agree Trussell Trust Food Bank. Appalled at your MP. Our North Dorset MP is endlessly working on cases like yours. Who is your District or County councillor? Worth contacting. I would also get into
    Your local radio station. The squeaky wheel DOES get the oil. Lastly (should have been firstly) whether or not you are a Christian , your local church WILL help and support you.

  10. If you haven't - get in touch with the social fund - a department in the job centre plus - it's free to call from the wall phones in the job centre or you can find the number for your area on the job centre web site. You maybe able to apply for a ' community care grant ', through them - depending on your circumstances. It's designed to help people remain in their homes in their existing community- From my experience it can take a number of weeks to be awarded so speak to the people at the social fund to see if you qualify before starting the process. Also if you speak to someone that isn't that helpful it may be worth ringing back at a later date, from my experience there are helpful and in-helpful people answering the phone! The same goes for the MP, there will be an office manager at the MP's office that does he day-to-day resolution of problems - Each MP voted into parliament gets salaried full time staff to run their constituency office.
    Things will get easier. Make sure you know as much info as you can- purely to avoid wasting your time with people or departments that can't actually help you.

  11. Also, don't underestimate the help your children's school can provide. Do they know the full story? They may be able to help cut through red tape in the short term and refer your children for counselling with regard to your husband's situation in the long term. Talk to them, if you haven't already.

  12. Rooting for you. Followed you since your return from France. So sorry it is so hard. Will RT xx

  13. We need to band together and get this sorted for you once and for all. That you are having to go through this is absolutely disgraceful and the welfare system in this country is absolutely ludicrous. I know when I was at my most needy and basically homeless with a new born baby they did nothing for me either, just don't understand it.
    Going to share your story and bang pots together until someone with the right scissors to cut through the beurocracy hears this.
    So very much hope this gets sorted soon.

  14. Also- you may not like the idea of charity but do you have a PayPal account? I'd really like to donate some money to help with food and I'm sure there are many mums/ wives/ human beings out there who feel the same way. You are part of a massive community of compassionate individuals- please let us help?

  15. I absolutely agree - as a community we can all help you - this is a disgrace and I sincerely hope our MP is thoroughly ashamed of himself and his dismissive attitude

  16. I will absolutely share & RT. This just isn't right. Lots of love to you and your family x

  17. Have you got a local Citizens Advice? They will have more power over everything benefit wise, they will make the phone calls for you, help you word the letters and find you services and funding. The children will be able to have access to some sort of counsellor and or a young carer group, again the CAB will help with that. I work for our local one and although each area is different they all do the same thing.

    I needed similar help Food and services wise with my disabled child a few years ago. I phoned the social services and requested a social worker. They are there to help you with food & kids too. They aren't as scary as you think and they can arrange days out for the kids to give you a break. They also have more power than the CAB and can kick butt for you relaxing your stresses by taking some of the strain.

    It will get easier as hard as that is to believe but you've taken the first step by asking for help. I take my hat off to people like you you are the backbone of this country. If the mp won't help go to the media it's amazing what a bit of publicity can do for you and others in your situation.

    Keep the faith you'll get this sorted with the help of the blog so you can concentrate on your husband's recovery. Please let me know if you need any help with getting the CAB involved xx

  18. So sorry to hear of your struggle. I am a personal injury lawyer at Darbys in Oxford (we also have an office in Thame) and act for many brain injured adults and children. We could help you get a free benefits check and advice from an independent financial adviser firm that we use for our existing clients. We have a good relationship with them and they have a specialist benefits adviser that we would be happy to get a free report from on your behalf to try and help you with the battle against the benefits system. We also have links to some charities - have you heard of Headway? They specialise in providing support for people with brain injuries and their families. I would be happy to chat/email if you would like to contact me. My colleague acts as a Deputy for many brain injured people and so also has a lot of experience in dealing with the challenges that they and their families face. Even if your husband does not have a personal injury claim, as we deal with many families in similar circumstances, there may be other ways in which we can help you for free or put you in touch with sources of support. My email address is lcook@darbys.co.uk or otherwise our firm website is www.darbys.co.uk

    1. CAB will help fight for your benefits. Might even provide a hardship grant. Home start provide assistance with the children just as a mothers help.

  19. As a parent of a now adult son I would agree that citizen's advice may be able to help you deal with the benefits people. Letters from the treating doctors should make a difference , or reports of assessments that they have already done.
    Headway may have loads to offer in terms of benefit's advice, support for your family etc and possibly a way to meet other people who have already learned the stuff you now need to know. They are a charity and what is available really varies from area to area.
    You don't say how he got his brain injury. But if there is a chance that he might have a claim against someone for negligence, or that it may be covered by an insurance policy at the location/ of a driver, then this could totally change everything. Through the lawyers in our case, we found brain injury experts who really helped, and were able to claim enough money to meet care needs for life. I used Field Fisher Waterhouse and would thoroughly recommend them.
    You are right that the Welfar system really doesn't do what it needs to do in these circumstances, when, as you say, you are grieving, trying to support grieving children, trying to support your partner, and having the work of both parents to do at home.

  20. I would also like to donate to you. This is awful, I am truly sorry for you and your family.

  21. Sonja Francis, editor@thamenews.net, says she can't print the story until she gets a reply for balance from MP and PM. Suggests you might want to write a letter to the editor?

  22. Echoing what the person above said, your local church will help you. I know so many churches who do really good work In their communities even if it's just babysitting or help with meals. So sorry to hear about your awful situation and heartless MP. We can all pray for a better world.

  23. There seem to be some great suggestions out there,but in the meantime I can suggest you also get in touch with the local Salvation Army,they are always on hand for any emergency,some food,some respite for you at a kid's club for the children.Also,please get in touch directly and accept offers of financial help.

  24. I'm afraid I don't have much advice to offer apart from contact your local children's center and your health visitor for help and support with benifit claims, housing and family support. They know all the local charities who may be able to provide help and support.
    I had tears in my eyes reading your blog, you sound like an amazing woman who has the strength to guide her family through this. I wish you all the very best. We are not a well off family but I too would like PayPal details as we could afford a little that would maybe give your family a meal or two.

  25. After reading this post, I had to read the rest of ur posts!! You and ur husband are inspirational and I will be praying for healing and also that all your needs are met, and for the best possible options are available to you! Hope you don't mind but as I was reading back posts I came across the link to the fundraising page set up by your friends for Alex and i noticed others on here had asked if u had one so I've included the link!

  26. Hi You mentioned husband was blind, has he been registered blind? The reason I ask is your local charity re sight loss would support you and even if not reg would still help re assessment and may be able to refer re housing adaptations etc! If not then please do call RNIB and I know they will advise or offer support. Your local charity may asses unless local authority do it but this maybe one way to assist, also getting a community care assessment if not already done so may help, your doctor should be doing a letter re employment and support re benefits!!! I hope this may help in some way blessings to you all

  27. I am so sad that you and your family are being treated like this, it is outrageous your husband has been told to go for a job interview. I think that the fact that the government has left the onus on you to 'sort it out' is criminal.

    Are you a full-time carer for your husband? I know you have said you are not sat down all day, but I am just wondering if you are his carer or are you home with your youngest? Trying to work out the best source of financial help.

  28. Please contact Partners Foubdation www.partnersfoundation.com they are a national specialist supported landlord and should be able to help you sort your home issue. SAF can fund the purchase of the property provided it is commissioned by the local authority. Www.safhousing.co.uk. You will need to get your husbands social worker involved. Keep strong - you will get this situation improved. You are doing a Stirling job

  29. I am so annoyed at this that I have emailed your link to 10 Downing Street. THis sitaution is not right in this day and age. The government claim to be family friendly when all the time they are making things harder and harder for people. I am so sorry for your situation and hope that you do get some help from somewhere.

  30. So sorry to hear about your situation. I haven't had a chance to read all the comments so I may be duplicating but here are some ideas:

    Your local Foodbank will feed you and your family for as long as you need them to (Bicester / Chiltern see: www.trusselltrust.org/foodbank-projects )

    Whichever Neuro centre cared for your husband during his stroke should be able to plug you into appropriate social and medical care and start the ball rolling for disability entitlements which should include mobility transport/vehicle etc

    Citizens advice bureau should help with benefits

    Get plugged into your local church, there are people there who will care for you and Jesus certainly does.

    All the best.

  31. I saw this post through a link on a friend's facebook page. So sorry to hear what you're going through at the moment. Not sure if this will help but has your husband seen an Occupational Therapist? He may have done through his rehabilitation. They should be able to help with housing adaptations and issues related to re-housing (or more suitable housing). You can usually self-refer for an occupational therapy assessment through your local social work department but there may be a long waiting list. I think you said he wasn't living at home at the moment - he may be able to access an occupational therapist at his current accommodation.


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