14 Mar 2019, 13:51
I don't know where to start with all this, I don't like talking about it or asking for help. Basically I'm on long term sick [~17 months] with mental health issues & (literally) heading for homelessness because RM are dragging out the ill health retirement process & being evasive, ignorant and dismissive. It's causing great stress which is only exacerbating my problems.
This shorty back story is not pleasant reading but provides context....
My folks both died very traumatic, drawn out deaths from cancer, literally one after the other recently, the stress tore the surviving family apart. These events triggered old mental health issues I had learned to manage over the years, but to this day I'm battling severe depression, suicidal thoughts, anxiety, agoraphobia, severe stress, insomnia, high blood pressure, I now have the shakes, my teeth are smashed from grinding them - the list goes on, I've also become very withdrawn and so feel lonely, isolated, I started drinking too much but thankfully I just can't afford it. In the last 2 weeks a close friend has died and my cousin has committed suicide, In fact I've had 7 people close to me die over the last 6 years, it's taken a huge toll. I'm really struggling to process everything as you might imagine. I've tried counselling via Royal Mail's bereavement services (I recommend it), I've had NHS counselling, I've tried a wide range of medications, countless doctors and some hospital visits... But I am where I am, I'm not going to give up trying to put the shattered fragments of my life back together but I'm just not mentally ready for work, because even minor stress really has a profound effect on me right now, & being around groups of people causes intense anxiety & panic attacks. In truth I can't see myself being well in the short-medium term.
So, onto Royal Mails handling of my absence and the IHR process....
I've been off for over 17 months now, almost 6 months without pay. IHR was discussed after 12 months, after seeing an OH Assist doctor he fully agreed that I should be retired on ill health grounds, I was invited to attend a meeting with the DOM and his boss to give my reasons why I should not be retired, I was far too unwell to attend and in any case I agreed with the IHR decision, I wrote to them in response to the invitation informing them of my opinion. That was over 4 months ago and I almost feel like they are stonewalling me, they give me no information, they seem to want to keep my dangling, dragging this out indefinitely, calls are not returned, letters ignored.
The union have not been helpful, both the office rep and the area rep, ' both have a 'pull yourself together' mentality regarding mental health, the DOM and his manager have just palmed me off repeatedly... I feel like going down there and not leaving until they give me solid answers, but the depression just crushes your fighting spirit, dealing with crap like this on-top of dealing with mum and dads affairs, all the family turmoil, and the other recent deaths is so draining, I'm ashamed to admit it but I feel honestly feel weak, hopeless and defeated.
The major issue I am now facing...
...is the prospect homelessness within a couple of months (which is absolutely terrifying me), I have almost exhausted all my savings, I inherited some assets (not cash) which apparently disqualify me from benefits, the assets can't easily be liquidated quickly, especially due to my siblings falling out. I have to spend around £40 a months on medications, mostly for mental health - I can no longer afford to buy all my meds, I'm struggling to buy food so I'm researching food banks... this is making my stress progressively worse and so in turn my depression, particularity the suicidal thoughts (I have no intention, just troubling thoughts and I speak to my doc about this regularly) I'm in a bad place. I feel RM's behavior is contributing to my health deteriorating because of this needlessly drawn out IHR process and their crappy behavior.
I would really appreciate any suggestions on...
■ What I can do to make them resolve this IHR process in a timely way?
■ And what are they playing at, is it just RM management inefficiency or is there an agenda here? I feel like they are doing this to try and force me back to work (because they don't seem to appreciate the difficulty of mental health issues).
■ A friend has offered to lend me money to hire a solicitor but I would rather not take on anymore debt and I worry about costs spiraling - is a solicitor a good idea?
■ Any tips, or details of people/groups I could contact for help or advice, within or outside of RM, would be great.
Thank you for taking the time out to read.
14 Mar 2019, 13:58
can you not get a friend to go with you to your office to get it sorted out once and for all?
14 Mar 2019, 14:17
Sorry to hear what you are going through. Will be honest can't really help but I can help with your prescriptions it's https://www.nhsbsa.nhs.uk/help-nhs-prescription-costs/prescription-prepayment-certificates-ppcs
it's £104 a year and you pay it 10 monthly direct debits with works our £10.40. My dad does it and you will receive a card through the post and you show it too the pharmacy when collecting your medication. Hope you get it all sorted soon.
14 Mar 2019, 15:51
Sorry to hear how bad things have gone for you. Have you tried Citizen's Advice? There's usually one in most medium sized towns and bigger. They really are very good and they are ON YOUR SIDE! I'd advise getting in touch with them ASAP and they will get one of their solicitors to look through your case. Given your particular circumstances regarding your health and potential homelessness I'd think they would prioritise helping you as a matter of some urgency. They'll need all the paperwork, dates etc but you'll get good sound help/advice not just about the IHR situation but also your financial and home issues too. Good luck.
14 Mar 2019, 15:59
Why not borrow some money off your supportive friend and seek legal advice, from an employment lawyer, on a "fixed fee" basis? Then you won't have to worry about spiralling costs.
I am no expert but, given the severity of your circumstances, some lawyers might consider working on a "no win, no fee" basis.
At the very least a threat of legal action would hopefully force an employer to act.
Note: this reply is intended to offer my sympathy and support. However I am not a lawyer, neither am I recommending this particular course of action.
14 Mar 2019, 17:33
Contact the company doctor mate. I’ve not got a link to it but sure someone will have. Keep in there and best of luck to you.
14 Mar 2019, 18:58
I'm sorry to read of your current situation and the continual and disgraceful lack of support. Have you tried Rowland Hill Fund?
14 Mar 2019, 20:12
I think the fact that RM arent paying you is why its going on so long, they dont have an incentive to take any action really. Its going to be up to you to put something into motion as the current status quo is going to end up choking the money out of you and RM either know this or dont care as its not costing them.
In my opinion, the only route I can see is with a solicitor at this point, if youre not in the right mental position to attend work meetings etc then you do need someone who can represent you on your behalf, it will likely be a lot less stressful to yourself to have someone else dealing with it. I think doing some research for solicitors in your area (ones who deal with some level of employment law) and then sending some emails pointing out what youve listed above to find a solicitor who could help you would be the next step. Then after finding ones who can help you in principal to then find out what their fee structure is for something like this.
You`re not committing yourself to a solicitor by inquiring so even if you choose not to go this route at least you`ll have the information on how much it would cost.
I can only tell you above the likely course of action for what I think I would do in your situation, best of luck whatever you decide.
15 Mar 2019, 20:02
A word with your divisional rep may help re area and unit rep being a pair of tagnuts. Just today a colleague referred to stress as the new whiplash, a cop out for the workshy. Had a couple of workmates get IHR after 6 months absence through anxiety/stress/depression in the last couple of months, both didn't attend any meetings until they were IHRed.
15 Mar 2019, 21:02
This is awful reading this so sad
15 Mar 2019, 21:57
I’m really sorry for all that you’re going through. I don’t have any suggestions about how to get them to move it on. I think others have covered that though. Financially have you thought of contacting https://rowlandhillfund.org/
they maybe able to help prevent the homelessness.
18 Mar 2019, 06:51
Contact DWP (department for work and pensions) on 0800 169 0310, today. Apply,with the adviser on the phone for ESA, (employment support allowance) the old statuary sick pay. You then will get a form through in about a week's time but your claim starts seven days after your phone call. After you come off the phone visit or phone your local council, HB (housing benefit) section. If your in danger accommodation 100% of rent should be paid and if house is mortgage then we DWP will pay the interest on the mortgage. You will only get £73 for 13 week's until your either placed in the work related group of the support group ( which I think you will qualify, just by your post) which will give you up to £110 per week but with supplements up to £227. Also apply for PIP (personal independence payment) which will pay from £22 to £184 extra per week. I think you will qualify for the ££88 per week rate. Make an appointment with a welfare rights officer at citizens advice or your local council, again phone 0800 169 0310 today as that starts the ball rolling. When the form comes it's about 46 pages long but most are just tick box answers. The bit at the back that gives you the chance to explain your problems is where you just need to write down everything that's been happening with and too you, the names and addresses of doctors, councillors, specialist that you've been attending along with any supporting letters from RM ect. For immediate help your local council will have a welfare fund which can pay out an emergency payment. I know it sounds a lot of hassle but it will stop the loss of your home and give you some money until RM decided what to do. Also the Rowland hill fund should be approached. Have the UNION not got any welfare advisers anymore? Anyway keep strong and things will get better. All the best mate.