‘Welfare reforms forced me to scavenge for supermarket food’


newslatestA disabled man has described how he was forced to scavenge for food from supermarket bins, as a result of the government’s welfare reforms.

Clive Baulch was one of about 20 disabled people who presented personal evidence about the impact of the government’s austerity programme on their human rights, during a testimony session in London.

A recording of the session – organised by Inclusion London and Disabled People Against Cuts – will be sent to Shuaib Chalklen,  the UN’s special rapporteur on disability, whose job is to monitor progress around the world towards equal opportunities.

He had been due to visit England to attend the meeting and the launch of a human rights report but had to postpone the trip at short notice.

Baulch told the meeting how he was made redundant in April 2012, three years after he became disabled through a massive stroke.

In November 2012 he had his benefits stopped because he was told he hadn’t been “looking for work diligently”, even though he had applied for 600 jobs.

Within days he had run out of money. “I was in pretty dire straits. I tried begging. I also tried three in the morning round the back of the supermarkets looking in skips. I spent a lot of my days ‘striving’.”

He told Disability News Service later that he had taken food from supermarket skips on about five occasions.

He had also tried using a food bank, and added: “There are people migrating around London, going from food bank to food bank, including a lot of people with mental health problems.”

He has diabetes, and he described how his health deteriorated and he had to be hospitalised last December.

Just when he had stabilised his blood sugar level, six months later, he had his employment and support allowance removed after being found fit for work, following a work capability assessment carried out by Atos.

Baulch is currently waiting for an appeal against the government’s decision to find him fit for work.

It is the second time that a disabled person has spoken publicly of being forced to scavenge for food from supermarket bins.

Earlier this year, a member of the Disabled Activists Network Wales (DAN Cymru) told how disabled people were being taught to scavenge for free food in supermarket skips and dustbins because they could not afford to feed themselves.

26 November 2013