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Ruth Anim And Liam Barker- Different Disabilities, Very Similar Situations

October 6, 2012

Exactly two weeks ago today, I heard and wrote about the case of Liam Barker. Eighteen years old, paralysed since birth, he breathes through a ventilator. His parents had just received a letter informing them that in order to receive Employment Support Allowance, he might have to prove he is unable to work by attending a Work Capability Assessment.

Exactly two weeks ago today, I first started wondering how many more Liam Barkers there will be.

I am sad to say that on Thursday, I heard of a case very similar to that of Liam Barker.

Ruth Anim, 27, has epilepsy, heart problems, curvature of the spine, severe autism and a mental age of 10. She has no sense of danger.

Ruth recently attended a WCA. She was found fit for work and told to prepare to find a job within a year.

Like Liam Barker, Ruth Anim has a loving mother, who immediately appealed the findings of her WCA. Ruth Anim is lucky. Unlike Michelle Barker, Cecelia Anim is the deputy president of the Royal College of Nursing.

This has meant that over the last two days, Ruth Anim’s case has received greater media coverage than Liam Barker’s case did. The Guardian and BBC websites have both covered the story in articles. Today’s Guardian letters section is dedicated to the issue of disability benefits, hooked on her story. Yesterday, BBC London News ran a TV piece about her.

ATOS yesterday apologised to the Anims for the ‘error’ they made in finding Ruth fit for work. It is to be hoped that the Barkers have received a similar apology for the distress caused to them by the DWP’s recent letter. However, if such an apology has been received, Same Difference has no knowledge of it.

So there is a strong possibility that the Anims would not have received an apology if Cecelia Anim did not have a high profile.

Like the Barkers, Cecelia Anim realises that other disabled people may not have the support her daughter has. She wants to challenge the current system.

Cecelia and Ruth Anim may have won their appeal for now, but Ruth will be assessed again in two years.

Ruth Anim and Liam Barker may have very different disabilities, but sadly, benefit assessments have placed them in very similar situations. Both are severely disabled. It is clear to anyone who hears their stories that neither will be any more fit for work in two years’ time than they are today.

That’s why assessing either of them again will be a greater waste of government time and taxpayers’ money than simply providing both of them with the benefits they are so clearly genuinely entitled to.

When I was trying hard to publicise the case of Liam Barker online two weeks ago, someone suggested that a database should be kept of people who are too severely disabled to ever be fit for work. This is an idea that should be given serious consideration by all relevant Government departments.

Because the next severely disabled person who is threatened with, or sent to, a WCA may not have supportive, high profile parents. They may not have the ability to appeal if they are wrongly found fit for work. They may not be able to do anything but- possibly literally- suffer in silence.

Two weeks ago I hoped that we would never have to hear of another Liam Barker. Exactly two weeks later, filled with sadness and fear, I am wondering when we will hear of the next Ruth Anim.

6 Comments leave one →
  1. Jean Calladine permalink
    September 24, 2015 11:37 am

    My god this government is the most callous, and DANGEROUS I have ever known, Maggie was bad enough now we get this lot, it’s terrifying the thought of another 4.5yrs of them. I truly believe that they want the working and lower classes right back where they had them in the 19th century, slave’s to them lot, the rich and upper classes while we amble on in true poverty, and I mean true poverty. They don’t give a dam what we want, they just think you elected us in, “YOU FOOL’S”. Please notice though no one ever admits to voting for them do they? We used to have great things going for us now we have only poverty and misery to look forward to… I pity our children and grandchildren, I truely do…


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