You need to eat well to climb Everest. Chapter 11

I:Daniel Blake was a moving and tragic story 😕 of  a man denied employment and support allowance (ESA)  when he falls ill and cannot work.  The dramamentry was designed to evoke extreme responses at the horror 😈 and unfairness of the bureaucracy that engulfs the system.  It made me desperately sad, and deeply ashamed at the way we treat those in need.

However here I was in a similar situation albeit less dramatic.   Reflecting on my experience I’d suggest navigating the process is akin to conquering Everest.🏔  For the uninitiated  the best place to start is Google.👀  This promptly directed me to the government site for all things ESA. I wasn’t actually prepared to leave my brain 🧠 at the depository but after an initial forage into the unknown it was clear mine was not wired for this particular  escape room. It would have been helpful 😺 to know someone who had done it before but I only had Daniel Blake and we know how that story unfolded.

Climbers burn 20,000 calories on the day of the summit climb on Everest  and an average of 10,000 a day on the rest of the climb. My appetite 👅 hasn’t been that great so I wasn’t particularly  physically able for this  challenge either.  It affected my ability to process effectively the information available; confusion  😵 began on the website.  There are 3 types of ESA, new style, contributory and income related. I selected contributory, easy. Well you’d think so. Although there are 3 types  an important distinction before you decide on your choice depends on whether or not you live in a Universal Credit 👾 postcode. This is important as it immediately reduces your choice  from 3 to 2 types. Universal Credit it seems  is not universal at all.  😡

I typed in my postcode and reviewed the extensive list before I deduced that I did not live in a Universal Credit area.❌  Except I do.✅  Told you brains are not useful. You can only claim contributory ESA if you don’t live in a Universal Credit area. As far as I could see I didn’t, so I phoned ☎️ to make the claim. That’s when my climb to the summit definitely  demanded more calories; it took 90 minutes to answer the call.  “Sorry you need to make a claim for new ESA you live in a Universal Credit area” “ How do I do that?”You’ve guessed it another  number and another 90 minute wait on the phone.⏰

You need to be entitled to claim Universal Credit if you want to claim new style ESA.  Universal credit is a benefit based on your income. I do not meet the eligibility for Universal Credit. I know I’ve made sufficient contributions but according to the new rules and guidance I won’t get it. 🐷 This is immaterial however as I was claiming contributory ESA which is incorporated in new style ESA but only in Universal Credit areas.  Still with me? I’m losing sight of that summit, and the will to live.  🤢

My call was now ringing well after closing time but determinedly I hung on. It was answered  but rather than have a meaningful or informed conversation I was hurriedly asked for my details and sent a claim form by email  and rather smugly  I was thinking  “Yes I’ve smashed it!” 🤩

I completed the form and then combed the website for the next steps. OK maybe I didn’t comb more of a skim.  Eureka! Its the job centre. I despatched my husband 🙃 off to our local job centre with the completed, printed form in a discreet envelope ( he doesn’t like drawing attention to himself) and he dropped it off before making a bolt for the exit. He’s much better at escape rooms than me.  🤪

There I am lying staring at the ceiling when the phone rings, “ Hello, Is that Jacqueline? It’s the job centre here, you’ve dropped off your claim for ESA,  sorry you don’t do this. You need to make a claim over the phone then make an appointment at the job centre, can you get the person who dropped this off to come back for it………………”


photography of man in black hooded jacket and red backpack facing snow covered mountain
Photo by Avinash Patel on


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