Those of you who know me well enough will know that I am like a dog with a bone when it comes to injustice and fair play. But Lord - give me more patience - does there ever come a point when I will not have to fight to get fair play for SJ. It has taken me two days to calm down and write this blog, because if I had written it in haste and with frustration it might not have sounded rational, it still doesn't to a degree but bear with me anyway as I try to retell the facts.
SJ has been on Incapacity in Youth Benefit since October of last year because we could not find a suitable course for her in the local college. Suitable, by definition, means fit, appropriate and proper according to the dictionary. So I do not feel that if we are offered a place on a full time course that will not enable SJ to get any higher qualifications, whether they be recreational or academic. Also that will not provide her with suitable skills that companies will come beating a path to our door to employ her, then I see no reason why we should be supplying funding to the college by virtue of her attendance.
The local meeting with the Connexions advisor went not much better. This time SJ could go on a mainstream college course, but would not get any support! Let's get the best fit for SJ then!
So off to the Jobcentre we go. Time and time again I hear of reports of people fiddling benefits and getting hundreds of thousands of pounds out of the government, and all I can say is, I take my hat off to you! I have nothing but admiration! Cos no matter how much I try to understand the workings of the system it always fails me.
Our needs, as in SJ's needs, with me in tow to talk the talk that has been discussed with SJ beforehand, are simple. We would just like to see what there is out there for SJ to do by way of work. Sure she may need additional training and support but she is very bright and has qualifications, which she has earned by hard work, not just from her but also her team of carers and supporters at school and college. Proper qualifications mind, GCSE and NVQ and BTEC, stuff that all employees can understand.
But the system is designed not for SJ, yes I know she has a learning difficulty and I know that she will need more support, more of the time than Pip her twin will, but the one advantage that Pip has is that people look at her and see how attractive, bright and bubbly she is, but when they see SJ, they just see money needing to be spent. They do not see that SJ could make a positive contribution the same as Pip makes a positive contribution. SJ is seen as pound signs. Pounds to be spent on training, to be sent on transport, to be spend on support workers.....in the words of SJ's favourite band, Money, Money, Money....that is what they see. And what is clear to me is that if they are going to spend money on SJ, they damn well need to make sure that she gives back on the investment and with interest!
We have never gone down the road of being involved with social services because from the start we did not want to loose control of SJ upbringing, no more than we wanted to loose control of Pip's upbringing, so consequently when I contact social services to find out about Direct Payment (go for this it gives you more control and freedom to employ who you want spend it on suitable, there's that word again, activities for your child) the social services had no register of SJ. Even now that makes me so proud, that we had managed to bring up SJ and Pip in the way that we had set out to do without any need for social services to worry about either of them. SJ was fourteen at the time, so we were on the home run by then. Or so I thought......
Got to go and pick up SJ from college, will continue tomorrow...