Benefits - I have worked hard all my life

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I wish to put Mr Alan Baker straight regarding his rant about a statement that I put in my column on August 23, about various people’s opinions that have come to my ears and which I myself agree with in some cases.

For a start Mr Baker, I am a 70-year-old woman who has worked all my life since the age of 15. I am still working full time as well as being a carer responsible for two people, one 67 and one 94.

My parents did not believe in education for women since I was born in the war years and you were expected to work, be you upper or lower class to contribute to the family finances.

At 21, I was married and we had our own house which we worked and saved hard for. At 25, I was divorced but was not allowed to take on a mortgage because, although I had by this time a good position at University, a woman was deemed not to be able to pay a mortgage.

My parents did not help their only child as in their opinion ‘you made your bed you lie on it’. It was probably the best and kindest thing they ever did for me because I became a fighter.

Yes I do live in a lovely house in rural Sussex, yes I have worked and saved all my life for things I needed. No I have never had debts, smoked or drunk or read the Daily Mail. I actually read The Times and Sussex Express.

At one hard stage in my life, I had to pay my ex-husband’s debts as he went abroad leaving me in dire straights. I was reduced to living on £5 a week after I had paid all my bills. On this I put a gallon of petrol a week in my Morris Minor to get me to work; £2 per week went on oil for my paraffin heater and I learnt how to make a loaf of bread, a pint of milk, a lb of mushrooms plus a tin of beans, plus things I grew, last a week.

My parents both worked hard and were never in debt but ended up having to be put in care homes. Because they too had done all the ‘right things’, they lost practically all their money on paying for care then had to sell their house to pay for continuing care.

In my father’s case, he had a lovely room in a care home in Hove but when his money ran out he had to share with a man whose family blatantly mocked my poor mother and father for having paid their way through life while their father had not paid in a penny for his old age or worked for many years but openly bragged at his ‘art’ and that of his family for milking the system.

Consequently, my dear father, a real gentleman, died in Brighton General Hospital over 20 years ago of Parkinsons Disease and Alzheimer’s and this person then had the room to himself.

Mum and I, who previously nursed Dad for eight years, still feel hurt and bitter about this. On no account was I blaming the unfortunate, who do not have jobs (blame technology for this, as one computer does the job of so many people now and self check-outs, computer banking, shopping on line all means people are not now needed).

By the way Mr Baker I have never been or intend to go to a UKIP/BNP rally, but I will try as a hard working OAP to still support the ten charities for the unfortunate that I have supported monthly over many years.

Hoping this puts you in the true picture of me.

Pauline Cherry

Rodmell