Thursday, 28 June 2018

Pointless bureaucracy

After a respite break to relieve stress, I tried to get some advice about giving up a zero hours contract job to focus on my practice and my caring role.
I wasn't given any help or useful advice by the welfare team whatsoever. They just said "You know what do, then".
I don't.
I could give it up, and rely on self employment alone, but with the risk of Universal Credit potentially making us destitute, and the abuse from the arts world of insisting on so much free work, I can't risk that.

I really don't want to reapply for PIP, either, but this seems worth a try.

So this is our experience of PIP applications.

We rang the DWP last week, and answered some questions; I spoke on behalf of my son, but when asked to provide some information, he did that. This probably won't go in our favour, but they won't do anything otherwise, even if he was shut in his room refusing to speak to anyone.

We were told that there is a two week time frame within which to make the application. If we need longer, we can apply for an extension, which is another two weeks, then that's it.
I guess if things take any longer than that, we'd have to make a new application and start again.

I've been advised by various people that they can help with PIP applications.

So firstly, being less trusting of Citizen's Advice, I tried Carer's First.
They have one person that can help, and he is not available within the two week time period.

Secondly, and reluctantly, I rang Citizen's Advice. I have an appointment booked - the closest one they had was a day when I'm working - which is another reason to give up the zero hours contract job - it doesn't matter when I work, it'll be THAT week that someone has the only appointment available that month, so it isn't as if anything useful happens when I'm caring.

It's this level of bureaucracy that is so frustrating.

I have to give up my self employed time for free, I have to deal with people working for free, instead of people paid to give accurate and timely help.

Thursday, 14 June 2018


And still in 2018 women artists are prevented from practising our work due to the large amount of unpaid voluntary and "in-kind" work expected of us.

I should be paid as much as Damien Hirst really.

Not the best pic of Millicent Fawcett's statue

I don't want a medal when Universal Credit forces me into a food bank.

Thursday, 7 June 2018

Respite trip to Denmark

As a carer I had a carer's assessment last year, and was awarded some funding for respite breaks to visit family, as none of my family live locally in Lincoln, and due to his anxiety, and the abuse of PIP applications, my son does not travel on trains.
And I'm obviously not getting paid enough as an artist to be able to travel for work.
The respite funding is for breaks from my caring role.
I was invited to visit my cousin, by his wife, who lives in Denmark.
The first time I met her was at Dad's funeral back in 2010.

They now have two lovely children, who I was fortunate enough to meet.

So I don't normally do any creative work whilst on a respite break.
But the respite is for my role as a carer, so I can choose whether to do any sort of creative work or not.
I decided mostly to enjoy the sunny weather in Esbjerg, and spending time with family not distracted by bad advice from the CAB, coercion into filling out more forms that I have absolutely no compulsion to do, or washing up.
But I decided this time to catch some artwork that I would otherwise not have the opportunity or funding to see whilst on my travels.

So firstly, I went to the Southbank Centre to catch Abba: Supertroupers

Next door, at the Hayward gallery, I went to see Adapt To Survive: Notes From The Future I obviously didn't go to see Lee Bul for health and safety reasons!

Bedwyr Williams Tyrrau Mawr is a digital narrative of an imagined future

My evening was spent at the Park Inn by Radisson in which I had a lovely meal - us carers and artists have to eat!! Not in food banks, either.

Chilling out in my hotel, not doing tons of unpaid housework
 I actually missed my flight due to the ridiculous amount of time it takes for the airport shuttle bus to get from the hotel to T5, so whilst waiting to find out if I could get the next flight to Denmark, I decided to finally tick off something on my bucket list, and go and see The Hive at Kew Gardens.

The Crystal Dome
In order to get my flight, I had to run around in here and collect enough gold tokens to win a seat on the 4.00 flight to Billund.

 I must be the only artist to test out a Disgustoscope in The Hive:

The Hive through a Disgustoscope

The Hive through a Disgustoscope

So, after pretending I was Richard O'Brien leading an intrepid group of contestants around the Crystal Maze, I got on the next flight to Billund, and arrived in Denmark!

Velkommen til Danmark!
 In Esbjerg, I went to see Mennesket ved havet

Hvor er kvindens??

Through the binoculars!
 These Danish youths were playing Pokemon: 

These inspire me to want to make the feminist version looking out from Skegness seafront! Four statuesque dolls looking out across the North Sea.

Like a giant Action Man doll...

Hygge with cousins!

The expression on their faces is amusing!
Imagine you're sitting on the toilet on the beach, naked, and some stupid British tourists come and take photos!!

Sunset at Mennesket ved havet

There were many other adventures in Esbjerg and Fano, and plans for another trip for my birthday next year, in which I hope to visit Legoland!

Arriving back at London Heathrow, where this time I stayed at the Radisson Edwardian. To be perfectly honest, I didn't really want to leave!

Radisson Blu Edwardian

Self care for carers

An artist eating breakfast


Back to rainy old Blighty in style

In conclusion, the respite funding only covers the part of the trip in the UK. There needs to be more funding if I am to cover the costs of flights, accommodation, travel, subsistence, and time for doing any sort of creative work in Denmark or elsewhere.
My cousin's wife very kindly provided accommodation, food, travel and hospitality for four days in Denmark - costs that I would normally pay for.
So this is how ARTISTS receive in-kind support - not giving away all our skills and expertise for free for someone on a salary, or paying non-existent money to be able to travel etc.