2 Audio clip 1: Diane Mallett
About seven or eight years before the interview, Diane and her husband Roger arranged for his parents and brother to move next door. Roger's mother had become seriously ill with Parkinson's disease, and Diane became her main carer. For this, she received a carer's allowance, as her mother was given Attendance Allowance. She explained:
It didn't alter what I did for her. I'd have done it anyway, even without the caring allowance. You still do those things. It did make a little bit of difference to my life. It wasn't a great deal of money, though. I think it was only in the region of thirty pounds. I think she was felt that she was glad that I'd found out about it, because she had no idea it existed. And I'm sure she felt that it went some way towards phone calls that I would have made, and trips, you know, in the car … petrol expenses, that sort of thing. Sure she felt that was a good thing.
After her mother-in-law died, Diane concentrated her efforts on helping her brother-in-law, Paul, who had learning difficulties, and had led a sheltered life. She organised social activities for him to attend and supported him at events and activities, getting to know the organisers and leaders to find out what was available for him.
Paul had not previously had any Disability Living Allowance (DLA), and Diane filled out the forms and got this benefit for him. She also involved Social Services, who organised daily activities at educational centres, and ‘travel-trained’ him, making him more independent. Eventually Paul found a place at an adult Training-For-Work Centre in Birmingham. He gained skills and certificates in numeracy, literacy, computer skills, and painting and decorating. Paul had a degree of disability in his feet, for which he had only recently been assessed. He had experienced a number of falls, which Diane had helped him to recover from.
Paul wanted to leave home after his mother died, and went to a residential home. Getting this place took some time, and was a process fraught with distressing incidents. Unable to claim the higher rate of DLA, and despite an appeal to a Tribunal, he was not able to afford the residential home he originally chose. He ended up in lodging accommodation in a poor inner-city area. This proved a disaster and, for a while, he returned to live with Diane and her husband. He was finally given a place in a residential home not far away from them.
Stanley Mallett lived on his own next door to Diane and her husband. She was finding that they were getting more and more involved in his affairs. He was hard of hearing, had asthma and had been in hospital twice with chest infections. He did his own cooking, cleaning and shopping.
At one stage, Diane was looking after six people: her parents-in-law, brother-in-law and her three children, including a stepson who was on drugs as a teenager and receiving psychiatric help.
In return for the support he received, Stanley would help out where he could. Paul liked to help in the garden and always remembered birthdays. Sometimes he gave Diane money towards postage and petrol.