UNLIKE many of the disabled people who have passed through the Luton Irish Forum’s welfare offices in recent months, Patrick has had his medical assessment.
But despite suffering from epilepsy, which causes him to have fits on a weekly basis and also causes him to suffer depression and memory loss, he was found fit for work.
After the 45-year-old Longford man lodged an appeal and was put on a lower rate of disability benefit, he had to endure the same 11-month wait facing scores of applicants today.
He told his story: “I only found out that my benefits had been cut by £30 a week when I went to collect my money. I couldn’t understand it.
“I had trusted the doctor who assessed me and he didn’t take me seriously. It felt like he never even listened to me. I told him that because of my epilepsy I get fits every week or two and can have three in one day.
“I was so upset after my money was cut that I had another epileptic fit that night. Losing that money was like cutting my arm off. It affects every aspect of your life.
“I had to scratch and scrape for all those months, I was hungry too and getting depressed.
“£30 might seem like a small amount of money to some people, but it is a big amount when you take it out of £100.
“Waiting for the appeal was like waiting for a jail sentence. You are waiting and waiting and hoping and praying that they will let you get your money.
“When I won my appeal and got my money back I was not overjoyed. I thought it was about time. But this is happening to people every day of the week and most of them have nobody to turn to.”