Help Gemma with Support Worker/Carer costs

£1,035 of £900 goal

Raised by 27 people in 5 months
OK here goes....

So I have never done one of these before and I’m just hoping it can help in some way as I’ve reached the point where I have tried everything else.

My name is Gemma and I’m a journalist, presenter and performer who reports on para-sport and disability affairs making sure those unheard voices are heard in mainstream media.

I also happen to have Ehlers Danlos Syndrome, which up until 2.5 years ago when I was involved in a car accident, was controlled well enough that I could continue to work without the need for a support worker/PA and minimal assistive tech to help me.

However as a result of the car accident I was also diagnosed with Dystonia and a rare neurological condition which means I have regular spasms and need somebody constantly with me to keep me in work.

Doctors have continuously said (and one has even written) I shouldn’t work because of the complexity of my disabilities but my passion has and always will be to ensure mainstream media sit up and listen when it comes to reporting disability sport and representing voices from the disabled community. I ensure they also represent the athletes in the right way and can be quite stubborn with editors when they want to frame something the wrong way that will be offensive to the disabled community.

So I have ignored doctors advice and carried on, travelling the world in the process and proving the cynics wrong.

Previously I have been able to secure Access to Work funding, I won’t say with no problem as it’s always had it’s glitches, to cover the costs.

Access to Work is the government scheme designed to help disabled people with the extra costs relating to their disability so they can continue working rather than rely on benefits and it has been proven that for every pound the government invests as part of this scheme they get more than that value back in return.

However this year a series of mistakes by the DWP has led me to be without support and thus an income for five months it will be in total, as although I’ll be working in January I won’t receive my first pay cheque until February.

The mistakes they made include refusing to make reasonable adjustments for me under the Equality Act 2010 during the application process and when I did make complaints about that advisors harassing me and victimising me as a result - all things the Access to Work complaints team have admitted has happened in writing to me.

The result of this saw me use all my savings to keep myself afloat and continue vital medical treatment to keep me functioning, meaning I now have nothing left and the bank wondering when my account will next get topped up.

We thought we’d sorted it though and once the Minister for Disabled People and Head of Access to Work was involved they assured us there would be no more problems and my latest job to attend the Australian Open wheelchair tennis draw for a major UK sports broadcaster and a few other written publications could go ahead with agreed support - the amounts agreed and everything.

So we begin planning

Fast forward two weeks from that though and the Access to Work payments team have decided to invent rules and hurdles for me to get my PA’s funding that have never been asked before and no other disabled person applying has to go through because they say “I do a job that no other disabled person does” or “I’m unique and don’t do a normal job for a disabled person” is also something I’ve been told in the past.

The goalposts have now changed so much and become impossible to achieve in the time we have left that the reality is despite being assured the funding would be in place, I now cannot do the work and will lose not only wages but my expenses that I have already paid out.

After a minor breakdown upon realising this, plus a crisis call to the eating disorder clinic that treats me for bulimia this morning, my parents and I sat down and number crunched.

And this is why I come to Go Fund Me and you for help

By my parents using what’s left of their savings and me using whatever I earn out there to subsidise and also cancelling medical appointments and trips to physio over the next two weeks we can manage to cover the majority of the amount the Department of Work and Pensions and Access to Work are holding me to ransom over.

However there is still a £900 shortfall, which I need to find before the 4th January 2019 in order to still keep my hopes of championing these athletes in the mainstream media and continuing to work alive.

So what will this mean if i get the £900?

Well personally it will mean 
1) I can escape from the constant torture by the various teams at AtW and start to move on from what I can quite honestly say has been the worst Christmas period of my life.
2) I can work and earn at least some income in January because unfortunately there is no hope of me attempting it without a support worker.

But on the larger scale (and this is the important bit and the sole reason why I do what I do and have tried to carve a career in the media as trust me when you report on disability sport you do it for love and not the money and you don’t get those four figured sums reporters on the ATP and WTA tours do) it will mean
1) Some of our best para-athletes will get championed in the mainstream media alongside and with equal analysis as those such as Federer, Djokovic, Murray, Williams, Kerber and Halep - trust me I’ll do my best and work every hour of the day to make that happen
2) Disability sport will be represented in the correct way.
3) It could lead the way to even more
4) Young disabled people who are thinking of careers in the media will be able to see themselves represented and if they can see it they can be it

What can I offer as way of thanks?

Honestly not much at the minute other than eternal gratitude and a public thank you on my social media feeds
(although if you are a media outlet or someone from one and you want me to write some stuff from Oz for you as a thank you for donation I can offer that)

But just after I return (as in I get straight off the plane from Oz and taxi it from Heathrow to the meeting at the DWP Offices - jetlag what jetlag) A few weeks ago before this all happened I was invited by the head of Access to Work to sit on a government focus group relating to AtW to help look at how the system can improve and I promise this.

I will fight and do my best to make them listen so that unlike me, no disabled person has to ever again go through the mental struggle of dealing with  a system that is outdated and doesn’t currently work for the modern job market and disabled peoples aspirations in 2018 and fundraise on a platform to keep them working when a government initiative that’s supposed to help them tortures them with promises of help which they’ll withdraw at the eleventh hour.

I might be a journalist who can’t write because of the wi-fi between brain and body being more dial-up than fibre-optic but I still have a voice and I’m determined to use it to help others within the disabled community as I can and I promise I will do this.

Thank you for your time everyone
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£1,035 of £900 goal

Raised by 27 people in 5 months
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