423252_10150573225144248_572853125_nFive years ago we experienced a pitiful election. The turn-out was poor and the country was in a state of oppression unable to decide who to vote for. We gave in. I was one of those people. Previous elections I had always been a Labour voter. I found myself a victim of the debt cycle, I was married and able to borrow beyond mine and my husband’s means, blinded by a husband who I considered to know more than myself and I never took full control over my own financial life. But I knew that something wasn’t right. I wasn’t living the life that I believed. The stress caused an underlying disability to emerge and broke down my marriage. I think it’s safe to say at that point of living in limbo. Dropping from a five bedroomed detached house, looking forward to building bigger and better to moving into a run down three bedroomed, with three dependent children and coping on income support. Was a fall in stature but a rise in personal understanding of the struggles that other people in circumstances like mine face.

Since the last election I have taken an interest in politics. I don’t understand everything to do with politics. I read and I learn and some things quite frankly go over my head because I can’t see the direct impact upon my life (although I’m educated enough to know that they do). Therefore, I’ve learned the side of politics that impacts upon my life directly. Sometimes I wonder whether considering how politics impacts upon me and my family is selfish. But then I remind myself. NO IT ISN’T. It’s important that I have my input. My input being my vote and how the government are going to make a difference to mine and my children’s life on issues that I’ve experienced.

SINGLE PARENTING

I currently work and I’m looking for other work so work at the moment is not an issue directly to my life. However, as I’ve been on income support with young children and understand how difficult it is to be a single parent and juggle children’s needs, the need to be a parent, money worries and work needs. I am compassionate to single parents who don’t. I would never judge a single parent who can’t work. Each person has their own set of circumstances. Difficult exes, small support networks, fear from previous relationships, mental health problems, illness, disabilities etc… I think that the media have exhausted blaming single parents for having to take out of the system. I think that it should be pointed out sometimes that taking out is a temporary measure. A young single parent of a child will be going back into employment as the child gets older, therefore will put back into the system. An older single parent may have put much into the system when they were younger. Life is a circle. The country needs to remember that children must come first and it is about what is best for the child. Only the parent knows the answer to that. Children need parents, parents need to parent. I think it’s a shame to read so much negativity about the vulnerable. WHAT SINGLE PARENTS NEED IS SUPPORT not negativity. Besides, is it such a shame for a single parent to stay at home/work part time – to look after their child? Rather than the state pay for their childcare? Where the children are looked after and ok cared for but not loved by somebody else. We all know what is best for our children. For myself it was to be around to look after my children. I took the working part time option due to my children’s needs having to be met and health reasons. In my life balance has been necessary – although I did study late into the night!!!!

DISABILITY

As I’ve already blogged. I have an immune disorder that affects my joints, they swell, leave me in incredible agony. At its worst it leaves me hardly able to move, gives brain fog, anaemia, fatigue and memory loss at its best when under control with heavy duty immune suppressants it is an invisible illness. Invisible in the sense that I have no swelling, I move freely, completely pain free and feel alert. You’d never know I had it unless it’s the day after my weekly dose of medication when I suffer with the side effects – sickness, weakness, tearfulness. I live with it, I have to adjust my life so that my body can cope, and therefore it’s my personal journey. Suffering in that way has given me compassion towards others. When bad with the illness I would drag myself out of bed in the morning to go to work. I’d be exhausted but I’d get there. But I’m a strong person, a fighter and recognise that not everybody has that type of inner strength. I don’t want to be defeated or not have the same rights to life as a healthy person. But who are we to judge?  I’m one of the lucky ones. I have a supportive employer and very capable children. Not everybody else in my position does.

THE NHS

I’ve also been looked after by the NHS. I have expensive medication and a fantastic specialist. Therefore politics affects me. I don’t live in fear of my illness, I see it as a challenge. At the end of the day anybody can be struck down, tomorrow, next week, next year. Why should I be in fear any more than anybody else? But:

  • What if we no longer have an NHS?
  • What if there comes a point when I or anybody else can’t work and we are dependent upon disability benefit?
  • What if we become labelled scroungers for having to claim for something beyond our control?
  • What if the system fails me because I am to become vulnerable? This isn’t just my fear as like I’ve explained it can happen to anybody?

My invisible illness that can be visible has made me consider my weakness in an area that I can’t control.

COUNCIL HOUSING

I’ve lived in the big five bedroomed mortgaged house. My life changed over-night, I moved into private rent and had an horrendous time with an untrustworthy landlord. I needed security for my children. So moved into a Council property. I’m still the same person that I was when I lived in my big house. I’ve just learned a few more lessons. Now that I live in a Council House – I’m not a CHAV. Definitely not, Council House and Violent. If I am to be labelled CHAV – can I please have the title: Classy, Honest and Vivacious? And because I’m Classy, Honest and Vivacious is the reason that I will not vote Tory. Business is important to the country but people are more important. Not everybody is a great entrepreneur. Many are vulnerable. I don’t like to class myself as vulnerable but I like many others could easily become vulnerable. Council homes are homes for families/people who are struggling financially. A Council house is a shell of a home, there are no carpets or nice décor – tenants have to spend on their homes to do that, making that house their home and therefore they should have more rights to keep their home. The bedroom tax has penalised the wrong people. It has not helped people to grow but has caused people more debt and heartache. Surely this is against human rights. If the Tories stay in power then as far as I’m concerned, human rights and living standards will hit lower still. This is a depressing thought.

MY CHILDREN

My children are smart children and all excel educationally. One is at Primary school and the other two go to Grammar school. As a low income family I am concerned about how we are going to cope financially should they wish to continue with their education at degree level. Naturally I don’t want them held back but I fear that with the rising cost in tuition that they will be held back.

In conclusion…

That is why I consider my vote as a woman (thank you Suffragettes) to be more important than ever before. I will be voting this year. We have lived through this year’s Women’s International Day. We have seen the great things that women over the years have achieved. Our little vote is part of being part of the bigger picture. We are aware that we still have a long way to go before gender equality. Therefore women still need a level of protection. For me the Party that will encourage me and enable me and my family to be better and offer women in my circumstances and worse the greater protection – will be THE LABOUR PARTY. I want better in my life – why should I or my children suffer because we are working class? We don’t want a hand out, we want help to be lifted higher.

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