Tale of welfare woe opens floodgates

STACEY KNOTT
Last updated 13:00 25/03/2014

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A Nelson woman who went public with her dealings with Work and Income says she has been "inundated" with responses and grateful for the stories that are flooding in, proving she is not alone in her dealings with the beneficiary system.

Chronically ill writer Sarah Wilson spoke to the Nelson Mail yesterday about fighting against the welfare system she finds "dehumanising".

She had been documenting her visits to the Nelson Work and Income office on her website, writehanded.org. A recent post attracted attention from all over New Zealand, including Nelson Labour MP Maryan Street who is now working with Ms Wilson to campaign for change in the benefit system.

Ms Wilson called on other beneficiaries to send her their stories about dealing with Work and Income.

She said the stories she had received since the story was published yesterday were "heart-breaking" and those that offered them were courageous.

With over 100 comments on the story on stuff.co.nz, and many people sharing on Facebook and Twitter, the vast majority of the comments were in support of Ms Wilson speaking out, and offering their own negative dealing with Work and Income.

On her own website, she had also had hundreds of comments on her recent stories on the subject.

"I'm getting loads of emails with stories. I could use the word inundated now, I think," she said.

Ms Street said the reaction to her story showed that Ms Wilson was "absolutely" not alone in her issues with Work and Income.

"She has hit on something that is now a common experience and that's a shame because it should be better than that."

Ms Street was to meet with Labour Social Development spokesperson Sue Moroney this week to take the issue nationally. She said welfare reform would be a "significant" election issue for the party.

"I am certain we will see results and an improvement in the Nelson office but that is not the end of the story."

She had also received emails over the past day since the story went national with people wanting to share their stories about dealing with Work and Income.

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- The Nelson Mail

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