Terry Wells is blind, diabetic, and needs dialysis three times a week. His life was already hard—but now the Tories have cut his care by a third.
“Carers don’t even have enough time to wash me properly now,” he said. “They put me in the shower and give me a quick shave.
“There’s not even enough time to cook me a jacket potato or wash the doors properly.”
Terry went blind from Retinitis-Pigmentosa 30 years ago. He has never had a job and has spent most of his 60 years living in a flat in Tower Hamlets, east London.
Twenty years ago his sister died and he was left to live alone.
“I used to get 18 hours of care but now I only get 12,” he said. “It means that my carer only has enough time to do two hours of shopping, three hours of leisure and two hours of preparing meals every week.
“I am meant to have four baths a week but I only have one.
“I have a backlog of over 100 letters that I can’t read. My carer has just one hour a week to read me my mail.”
Terry’s disabilities mean that he needs more care, not less.
For instance, his dialysis, which he has been on for 20 years, is incredibly time-consuming.
Terry goes every Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday. In total it takes six hours—only four on the machine but an hour travelling each way.
When the Tories came to power in May, councils started to make cuts to prepare for their income being axed.
The minutes of a Tower Hamlets cabinet report on 7 July read: “Within three weeks of the general election, in-year savings of £6.2 billion were announced, local government’s share of which is £1.16 billion.
“Tower Hamlets will receive some £4.125 million less in grants than it has budgeted for in 2010/11, in addition to which a further £5 million worth of grants which have been received in previous years will not now be allocated.”
This may just be numbers to some, but on the ground it hits hard.
“The hours I have a carer have been cut by a third—but the money I receive to pay the care agency has actually been cut in half,” said Terry.
“I used to receive £400 and now it’s £200.
“I will be marching at the Tory Party conference on
3 October. It’s not only to stop the cuts but also to show solidarity with the trade unionists who are probably gonna strike.”
One of the most important things for Terry is that his carer is the same person every time, someone he knows and trusts.
Yet he was told that this could be threatened if he did not agree to the cuts and that different care agencies could be used to provide his carers.
Terry lived in Wales for a year doing Business Studies at the University of Glamorgan but dropped out because he got pneumonia.
Recently he applied to go back to university at Queen Mary, Aberystwyth, Bangor, City, and Swansea universities.
They rejected him because he needed to do an access course.
“They said that I would need people to read the essays and wheel me around,” he said. “None of them would accept me on a course because the funds aren’t available for that.”
Tory prime minister David Cameron claims that we are all in it together.
When I asked Terry what he thought about Cameron he said: “He’s a little rich boy who needs to be taught a lesson. You just can’t cut people’s aspirations.
“It seems like he’s hitting the poor not the rich like they always do.”
Terry says the hardest bit is the loneliness. Less care time means more time on this own. “I’ve hardly got anyone here at all,” he said.
When I asked what he does to occupy the time, he said, “I sit at the table mainly, and smoke.”