'I'm £200 behind on rent but I'm in too much pain to work'

Women with debilitating conditions open up about living on the breadline as they struggle with chronic pain and fatigue.

Leading charities have warned those living with debilitating conditions are not getting enough support as the cost of living crisis grips Scotland.

STV News has spoken to two women who are living on the breadline as they deal with their conditions, whilst also trying to earn a living.

Lisa-Marie Ferguson has adenomyosis, a debilitating pelvic pain condition.

Often when waking up before a shift, she can’t get out of bed.

She said: “I am currently two months behind on last month’s rent because I cannot work enough to keep up and working part time, I can’t afford to do that.

“So basically, it’s a question of do I rest and take care of my health, or do I push through and make sure I keep a roof over my head.”

Lisa-Marie has struggled with pain since she was nine and relies on pain medication to get through the day.

She said educating employers could help women who are struggling financially and writes songs to empower women with similar conditions.

For Marion Graham, it took 30 years to receive her endometriosis diagnosis.

She said others with the condition fork out thousands to finally get treatment after being forced to go through private health care.

Marion, who leads Endometriosis Grampian, said: “It takes so long to get treatment that they are literally giving up their life savings.

“Whether it’s life savings for putting a deposit on a house or saving up for a holiday or something – they’ve literally given up that money in order to see a consultant and get their diagnostic surgery.”

It’s a similar situation for Alannah-Jayne Simpson, who had an ostomy surgery after being told she had Crohn’s disease.

Her condition limits her to working from home, but she can’t find a suitable job.

She needs certain drinks to keep her hydrated.

She said: “The price of isotonic drinks that I drink to keep me hydrated because I can’t hydrate the same as everyone else has gone up in price significantly.

“Normally I would buy it in crates. This time last year I’d be looking at about £6 now it’s £15.

“At the moment we are trying to avoid having to do weekly shops because most of the time when money comes in it goes out just as fast again on food.”

A charity supporting those with inflammatory bowel diseases say it needs to be easier to claim benefits.

The Scottish Government says every case is treated with fairness and respect.

Derek McEwan, co-founder of the Catherine McEwan Foundation, said: “We speak in the winter months about the choice between heating and eating.

“Our guys have got a challenge all year round because of this crisis we are in financially.

“The benefits system isn’t fit for purpose. Many of the people with the greatest respect don’t understand the challenges the patients with inflammatory bowel disease have.”

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “Eligibility for Child or Adult Disability Payment is based upon an individual’s needs, rather than a specific disability or health condition. If someone with Crohn’s disease needed help completing everyday activities or found it difficult to get around as a result of their condition, for example, they may meet the eligibility criteria.

“Social security is a human right and we are committed to ensuring people can access the support they are entitled to. We have made a number of significant improvements to ensure the Scottish social security system better meets the needs of disabled people.

“Case managers in Social Security Scotland use their professional judgement and take a holistic approach to understanding individual circumstances. They will take full account of people’s needs and of fluctuating conditions. This person-centred decision making process ensures everyone is treated with dignity, fairness and respect.

“Social Security Scotland also provide a free Local Delivery Service. People can organise a meeting with Social Security Scotland in person, over the phone, or on a video call to ask for help when making an application.”

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