In Other News

Quick catch-up

Still here folks,  just been super busy and not had a chance to update my site. Been pretty active around the web though, so plenty for you to see (and get caught up on if you missed it) -just follow the Twitter link.

Almost finished my postgrad  Multimedia and Web Authoring course. Can’t believe how fast it’s gone by. Learned some new stuff which is good – .Net, Flash/ActionScript, Silverlight and shored up my Javascript knowledge too.

Also, been doing some design-y stuff in my free time. Will get all of them uploaded here ASAP, along with my Uni projects if I can find somewhere to host them.

So, yep, that’s it for now. Expect some work posts to go up in the next week or so, when I get some time off from Uni assignments.
In the meantime there’s always Twitter and Tumblr to keep up to date.

Ciao for now.

A


Anyone want to help me with a video project?

Right, this is really simple. The theme is “I can’t say what I want to”.

All I need from you is something you wish you could tell someone but can’t. A phrase, a sentence, a single word. It can be a quote, a lyric, something floating in the back of your head or on the tip of your tongue.

You can send me: a video clip of you writing it, a photo, or just type it and I’ll do the rest. It can be displayed fancily, incorporated into a painting or scribbled in pencil on the back of a napkin… it does need to be readable though.

Credit will be attributed, so don’t forget to include your name if you’re responding from an pseudonym account! All words will be kept anonymous though so don’t worry about any secrets getting out.

So, if you’re interested, email me, PM me, comment with a link… whatever you want. Feel free to tell your friends. The more the merrier!

You have a week.


Aside

Launching a start-up? Check this out.

Found this pretty cool new site, aimed at helping start-ups to get going. Some very interesting articles in their blog. Check it out: LaunchRock.Com


Slight soap-box moment – “Benefits cuts are driving people to suicide”

I just saw this article highlighted: http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2011/may/31/incapacity-benefit-cuts-mental-health. It details how changes to the incapacity benefit system is having a drastic and negative impact on people with mental health problems.

Anyone who knows me, knows that very few things annoy me enough that I have to speak up about it. But having been through this ludicrous system, I feel like I should have a say about this.

Firstly, the “assessments” themselves are so unfair. They are basically box-ticking exercises. If you don’t get enough points on their insane system, you lose your benefit. That’s it. The assessments are carried out by independently contracted companies, so there must be some element of profiteering in that to start with. Instead of reviewing your form, you are given half an hour to try and provide enough evidence that you can’t cope with work through their often leading questioning. These assessments do not take into account any form of medical or other evidence from doctors or support workers. It is purely based on your responses in the interview.

Now, I’m not a medical expert, just someone who’s been through this –  but many of these people have emotional difficulties and anxiety problems which make talking, especially about their personal issues, very difficult. So, how are they supposed to meet some mysterious criteria, while talking to a total stranger in a very official and clinical setting? On top of that they are basically fighting for their only source of income. How is that fair??

Secondly, once you’ve inevitably failed your assessment you are then set on a cycle of appeals and reassessments. The system seems to be ‘fail anyone who is not UNDENIABLY unfit for work’, just to save some money. This doesn’t work when you actually look at it. People who fail their assessment can appeal and stay on a base-level of benefits in the interim. However, the average waiting time for a appeal hearing is 3 months. This is the 3 months of worrying about the upcoming tribunal and the consequences thereafter. Most appeals are accepted, however there are a growing number being rejected. If you are lucky enough to reach an actual hearing and then even luckier to win your appeal, you can almost guarantee you’ll be called for a reassessment within a month or two; and so the cycle begins again.

From a purely financial stand-point this vicious cycle doesn’t make sense. The cost of constant assessments and tribunals must outweigh any savings made by taking a few people at a time off benefits. Of course there are those who claim benefits without legitimate claims, but the fact that people with clear, irrefutable medical evidence are being swept up in this is ludicrous.

It doesn’t take a genius to realise that people with emotional problems are not going to do well living in fear of this system. The anxiety surrounding the assessments and the potential of your only way of feeding yourself being taken away cannot be healthy for ANYONE. I know not every person with a mental illness is suicidal, but the damage to people’s emotions and self-esteem done by this system should be enough to merit a rethink.

Having been through this system (I failed my assessment but couldn’t be bothered waiting for a hearing)  and worked with people either in the cycle or those helping them, I can say that something needs to change. I know, from first-hand stories that people have been trying to get the government to change the policy since it was introduced 3 years ago.

On top of this failure in the benefits system, they are cutting funding to vital projects and organisations which are trying to work with people to help them help themselves into a position where they are able to work and thus come off benefits anyway. To me this just emphasises the fact that those trumpeting about the so-called “Big Society”, have no idea what it’s like on the ground. It all makes sense on paper and it ticks all the economic boxes, but have they thought about the social impact that will be felt now and for generations down the line? I think not.