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Sleep out protest against bedroom tax
A SALISBURY woman is hoping lots of people will join her next Saturday in taking to the streets to protest about a tax she fears could soon make thousands of families homeless.
Jessica McCarnun is organising a Mass Sleep Out at the Maltings in Salisbury as part of a nationwide event to highlight the effect of the cut in benefits many disabled people and struggling families face for “under-occupancy” of council and housing association properties.
The 33-year-old mother of four, who suffers from a nerve damage condition called occipital neuralgia, started a support group called Bedroom Tax – Tell Us Your Story in November last year after being affected by the changes herself.
Ms McCarnun had to fight to keep a separate bedroom for her disabled and autistic son, as the government expected him to share with his sisters despite his condition meaning he wakes several times in the night with terrors and is likely to lash out when upset. She discovered there was an exemption for disabled children but that no-one, not even the council, seemed to know about it and decided to help educate others.
She asked members of the support group to write a letter to David Cameron explaining how the bedroom tax would affect them and presented a personal petition of 1,852 letters to Downing Street in July. She is still collecting letters from people who are affected and hopes to do another presentation in Downing Street in the future.
Ms McCarnun said: “I have seen first-hand just how many of my members have been left desolate and confused by this tax. When I heard about this sleep out event being run elsewhere, I just had to support it as I believe it to be a great way of showing the public the true outcome the bedroom tax has on our society.”
She said many people the support group helps have now been served with possession orders and face being thrown out of their homes but there aren’t enough smaller properties available as a lot of the people affected are disabled and need specialist housing.
“We are judged as a nation on how we protect our vulnerable in society and at present we are not doing a good enough job. We need to show these families we are uniting to support them.”
The sleep out is from 7pm on August 24, lasting 12 hours. Anyone who wants to join can get more information from wewillbeheard.org or the facebook page The Mass Sleep Out (Salisbury).
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