Dr John Smith

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If I was “on welfare” I would not be feeling very happy at the moment. I might even be feeling got at, a sort of pariah.

I would be feeling threatened, uncertain and worried. Should I be trying harder, going to work, supporting myself?

What a horrible word welfare has become, and yet its real meaning goes something like this: health, happiness, prosperity and wellbeing.

I like that last word, wellbeing; it gives me a sense of contentment. Content with who I am and how I am, not necessarily having huge or unrealistic aspirations.

In very broad terms it is sickness and unemployment that take away the feeling of wellbeing and it is when people lose their jobs or become sick that they need our help.

The rub comes with state support because we feel so many people do not deserve it. And some people do not deserve it.

But why lump the good with the not-so-good? Should we be a society that supports a young man or woman with children who develop terminal cancer or a long-term neurological illness? Of course we should.

And if the “benefits” are greater than someone in work then let us rejoice instead of shouting ‘not fair, not fair’.

And what of those of us with mental illness, with learning difficulties, with major handicaps? Aren’t they more important than we are, don’t they “deserve” more than we have?

Welfare needs reform but not if a caring society becomes a careless one.