I’ve been swithering with an idea for a book for some time now – my first non-fiction piece. I often speak on Twitter about benefits sanctions, welfare reform and so on — seriously, when did ‘social security’ become ‘welfare’? I’ve thought about writing a book of case studies, personal experiences from people who’ve had their benefits stopped for the most stupid of reasons and it’s about time I did something about it.
Seriously, when you’re threatened with sanctions for writing your jobsearch record in blue ink rather than black, you know the system’s corrupt; they have a quota of sanctions to hand out and woe betide you if you’re next in the signing-on queue.
So here’s what I’m looking for: people who are willing to email me privately to give me a run-down, however brief, of their experiences of the benefits system in the past, say, three or four years (to keep it fairly current). Beginning of 2012 onwards?
It’s very important that I have proof of what folk share for the sake of the book’s integrity, so I also ask that you do, where possible, provide dates and locations of where things happened — don’t worry; I won’t publicise these. This is just so I know, personally, that we can prove your individual case. If anyone sends me photocopies or scans of letters they received, so much the better. You have my word that I will not publicise these; they would just be for the sake of the book’s integrity. If you want me to mention your story under a pseudonym, that too is acceptable. I can give you a name/location vague enough to protect your privacy. I know that this will be especially important to those of you still on benefits and unwilling to ‘draw fire’ from officialdom.
Depending on the number of replies I receive, I might not be able to use everyone’s story. The book will be a short ebook, and for sale on Amazon. Self-published, and depending on profits made, a percentage of them donated to a food bank or similar. As this is in the early stages of this idea, the details are still to be ironed out, of course. Still need to work out format of book, see to cover art, and of course I need to weave my own personal experiences into the book as well. I’m thinking a price point of 99p will make it affordable; the royalties on a book of this price would be 35%. Copies sent out to any review sites willing to boost the signal.
If anyone is interested in contributing, please contact me on email@example.com and we can discuss things privately. It may well be the case that this book will sink without a trace. A few people may read it. Who knows? The one thing this government tries to do is to stop the truth coming out but the internet is far more democratic than that, and we all have a voice.
Let’s use it.