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For two days a month I can’t afford to eat: My Wigan Pier Story – Peter Gleave

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Peter Gleave, 56, from Moston, Manchester spent most of his life working as a driving instructor. A type 1 diabetic he can’t work anymore because of ill-health. As he tells Claire Donnelly his benefits aren’t enough to live on and he often goes hungry.

The government is practising euthanasia, I really believe that, they are starving people to death.

They know what they are doing but they don’t care.

I’ve worked all of my life, as a driving instructor and then as a trainer for other driving instructors.

But I can’t work now because of my health. I have type 1 diabetes but I don’t have any hypo-awareness – I can’t tell when my blood sugar isn’t right and I can just collapse. I’m not meant to go out unaccompanied.

Road to Wigan Pier author, George Orwell

If I had to get a job now it would kill me. The fact is that not everybody is fit to work.

I have to survive on benefits. I’m on ESA – I’m in the support group – and I get PIP but it can always be reviewed. The scariest thing is seeing an envelope come through the post because it could be from them and it could change your life.

Going through assessment and appeals is stressful and demeaning.

I’ve had two mini strokes caused by the stress of having to appeal decisions.

It’s a long and gruelling process. It can take 12 months to get appeal so for that time you don’t have any money.

The Welfare Rights people that used to be there to help you have gone so you have to do it on your own and it’s horrendous – debating points of law – I wouldn’t wish it on anybody.

You feel judged. It feels like people think you’re a thief if you’re on benefits, you’re a scrounger. I’ve heard people say that. It’s like society is against the poor. There’s a real ‘them and us’ being stirred up.

It can get you down, it makes me very depressed.

Benefits just aren’t enough to manage on. Like most people there will be one or two days a month when I don’t have enough to eat. Then my brother has to keep me basically. I’m lucky I have family who can support me. What do you do if you’re completely on your own?

I think the Tories will get in next time as well – then God help us all.

I cared for my mum for the last ten years of her life. She had a rare cancer for most of her life but she worked in the family business.

It was in her spine and meant she was bedbound for the last few years.

She was getting Disability Living Allowance (DLA). They actually sent someone out to assess her while she was in bed. One of the tests was to see if she could she reach across herself and take something out of a breast pocket.

She managed it so they said she was fit to do some work. It broke her heart when they said that.

She was an elderly lady and very ill but it made her feel as if she didn’t deserve the support she was getting. It was an evil thing to do.

I really believe that 99.9 per cent of the people in this world are nice and kind but the 0.01 per cent have a lot of power over all of our lives – it’s disgusting.

People come here from other countries because they think we’re this great place, somewhere where we look after each other but we don’t.

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