MARK FRANKLAND

I wear two hats when I write this blog of mine. First and foremost, I manage a small charity in a small Scottish town called Dumfries. Ours is a front door that opens onto the darker corners of the crumbling world that is Britain 2015. We hand out 5000 emergency food parcels a year in a town that is home to 50,000 souls. Then, as you can see from all of the book covers above, I am also a thriller writer. If you enjoy the blog, you might just enjoy the books. The link below takes you to the whole library in the Kindle store. They can be had for a couple of quid each.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Hallelujah! We live in a time of miracles when millions who are sick are suddenly cured.



 
We are truly blessed to live in such a time of miracles. Not since Jesus did his stuff in the rocky hills and valleys of Galilee have so many sick people miraculously become well. Are we witnessing the hand of God? Are stone statues about to shed tears? Is the Second Coming nigh? Anyone running a B&B in the town of Lourdes must be frantically revising their sales forecasts down and trying to work out what the hell they are going to say to their bank manager. After all, who in their right mind would want to shell out for an all-in package to Lourdes to get well when all you have to do is come to the UK and apply for sick pay. You fill in the form, attend and medical and lo and behold, you are suddenly as fit as a flea. Surely we are missing out on a huge opportunity to boost growth here. Our sudden ability to provide a miracle cure to people who have been too sick to work for ten years or more is absolutely groundbreaking. Why are we not hitting the rest of the world with a blanket advertising campaign?

Cue serious anchor man voice. Probably American.

“Are you sick? I mean really sick? And have you been sick for years? Well help is at hand. Come to the UK and get well soon. Leprosy? Aids? Ebola Virus? No matter. We Brits can fix it all. Just one medical and you can get back to work. Come to Britain where we fix more people than Jesus!”

What a shot in the economic arm. We can pack out every hotel from Paisley to Penzance. Book a flight. Catch a show. Try some fish and chips. Attend a medical and poof! …. you’re well again!

What is hard to understand is why all these people who have been too sick to work for years and years and years are not thronging the streets and jumping for joy and punching the air and skipping about like spring lambs. I mean, come on. If you had been deemed too sick to work for fifteen years and condemned to a life of daytime TV, wouldn’t you be pretty damned cock-a-hoop if you heard that all is now well and highly trained medical staff have deemed you to be fit as a flea?

So what is the problem with these silly people? Every day they come mooching into First Base with long faces and tales of woe. The tale is usually the same. They have been signed off sick for ten years and more. They have depression. Or anxiety. Or a drink problem. Or a bad back. Or all of the above. And their GP has always agreed that work is out of the question and signed on the dotted line to confirm it. And then out come a clear blue sky cometh a letter from the DWP in London ordering them to a medical to be carried out by highly trained folks from France. And the results of the medical never vary. Sick people are miraculously cured. Wonderful. No more depression or anxiety or drink problem. All gone. All better. However, instead of being elated at their new found good health, the miraculously cured are instead morose and bitter and angry. How dare they! They gave me no points! They are saying that I am well!

Then what happens? Again, the story tends to be the same. The sick person puts in an appeal against the decision they are in fact not sick after all. Their benefits get cut whilst they count down the days to their appeal hearing. The reduced level of benefits tends to cover power but not food and so a support agency sends them along to us for a food parcel. Not many win their appeals to become sick again. Most in the know reckon a figure of about 20% is there or there abouts. And then? Another appeal. And another. One of our guys is onto his fifth. Every time his doctor is adamant that he is sick whilst the miracle cure men from France say he is in the pink.

The bottom line? To be honest the vast majority of the folk we see are more than capable of working and have been so for years. They have had a drug problem and been put on methadone. Those tasked with supporting them know full well that if they go onto Jobseekers Allowance they will miss appointments and be suspended which will mean no housing benefits and subsequent eviction. Much better to tell them to spin a line about being depressed and anxious which means they only need to get their act together to sign on the dotted line once a month. They do not have to go through the bothersome routine of applying for jobs and filling in progress forms. And best of all, they get another £30 a week or so which is incentive enough for them to make that all important monthly appointment to sign on the dotted line. Other than that, they can crack on and top up their daily dose of methadone with whatever cocktail of cider, supa-lager and valium they can afford.

We have had endless arguments with support workers about this nonsense for years. A lad goes to jail for three months, gets clean, fills out on three square meals a day and emerges clear headed and motivated to change his life around. What is the absolute best thing to make this happen? A job! A chance to make a living, meet new pals whose lives don’t revolve around the next score and a chance to regain some self respect. Instead their support workers get them signed off sick and tell them that it is for the best. And when this goes on for years and years, not surprisingly people become quite convinced that they are indeed sick and incapable of ever completing a day’s work. The prospect of not being sick is terrifying. They become hyper protective of their benefits and prescriptions. Mentally they become hard wired to feel sick, for being seen to be well is a nightmare. And if you concentrate hard enough on feeling sick, I guess you will indeed feel sick.

Now everyone is in a lather with the Government about this. We are hearing all the stuff about wicked, heartless Etonian bastards whose big dream in life is to spit roast the babies of the poor and turn them into pate. Surely the real blame lies with governments of all colours going back thirty years and more. In order to pretend they were doing a tip top job, they needed to boast about how far unemployment had fallen. So they took unemployed people, told them they were sick, bribed them with an extra £30 a week and duly signed them off. Hunky bloody dory.

Had this new miracle cure process been carried out back in 2000 when things were not so bad, things could have been very different. The French miracle workers could have told people that they were not sick after all. The newly cured would have gone onto Jobseekers, had to go through the routine of looking for work, and in most cases they would have got an actual job. Because back in 2000 there were lots of actual jobs for them to get. But instead, for the sake of lying at election time, the Government of the day preferred to keep people sick and it didn’t matter anyway because the City of London was coughing up more than enough tax to pay all the bills.

So what happened? A million East Europeans in the very rudest of health came over and filled all the jobs. Well best of luck to them, but those vacancies should never have been there for them to fill. Now there are no vacancies and the sick of 2000 have been convincing themselves of their own sickness for thirteen long years. Can they compete in the work place with some highly motivated and well educated 19 year old from Poznan? Can they hell.

What next? Well many we see will indeed cock it up once they are expected to meet the rigorous routine of the Job Centre Plus and more and more will be suspended from all benefits. And they will get evicted. And for a while we will all stump up £30 a day to keep them in homeless hostels until the Government decides it can’t afford that either. Then it will be cardboard boxes under bridges and jail when they get desperate.

You know what, when Jesus healed the poor things seemed to work out better.   

 

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