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Time to stop talking us down, time to start listening . TORIES IN BIRMINGHAM CAMERON'S SPEECH MIRROR'STARK MESSAGE TO PM.


DAVID Cameron's speech to the Tory faithful. today will warn the nation he plans to preside over more hardships and cuts to come.

But our message to the Prime Minister is this: It's time you started listening to the British people. Stop talking us down and give us the chances we need.

Mr Cameron will use his big conference speech to say he knows how difficult times are for us all.

He will try to match Ed Miliband's performance last week by talking about his own family's troubles.

And he will target UKIP's threat to steal Conservative votes by signalling there will be a referendum on Britain's membership of the European Union.

But above all Mr Cameron will say that mending the nation's finances is "not complicated" - it simply means more hardship and pain, including extra welfare cuts. Is this a man who, as he claims, really understands what life is like for millions of families in Britain? Perhaps reading the three letters from Mirror readers we publish today will make him think again.

Former Coldsream Guardsman Barry Witham, 37, is struggling to find a job to support wife Donna, 33, and their children Natasha, 15, and Liam, nine.

Barry, from Middlesbrough, says: "I have applied for countless positions. It is so demoralising. At my last interview there were 150 people going for one job.

"I had a heart attack. The doctors said stress of not being in work may have contributed to my condition."

A letter from Ellen Arthur, 15, of Abingdon, Oxford, says: "I am angry. Councils are cutting the vital services deaf children like me need to achieve their potential."

Mr Cameron should also read the message from Terri Balon, 50, who is registered blind and lives with her daughters, Kimberley 20, Georgina, 18, and Francesca, 16, in Leigh, Lancs. She says: "This Government seems to think the longer you're blind the less help and support you need. It isn't true."

She tells the Prime Minister: "Please, please don't make any more cuts. There is no more money to take from us - nothing left to give."

Mr Cameron's speech will warn: "Unless we take difficult and painful decisions Britain may not be in the future what it has in the past.

"We are in an hour of reckoning for a country like ours - sink or swim, do or decline. It's tough. These are difficult times.

"How will we come through it? Again, it's not complicated. Hard work. Strong families. Taking responsibility. Serving others."

He will also say a referendum, possibly after the 2015 general election, will be the "cleanest, simplest and neatest" way of letting the country decide if we want closer ties with the EU.

Mr Cameron will speak about his stockbroker father who was disabled "born with no heels and with legs about a foot shorter than they're meant to be". And he will reveal for the first time his grandparents' marriage broke up.

The Tory leader will be speaking after the International Monetary Fund's shock forecast that the UK will shrink by 0.4% this year instead of its earlier expectations of 0.2% growth.

The IMF also said George Osborne's deficit reduction targets will be missed.

But Mr Cameron insists: "It's not Plan B that we need. What we're doing is making sure that every part of Plan A is firing on all cylinders.

"It's a slow and difficult healing process but it is taking place."

3 THE Prime Minister was presented with two caterpillar-design chocolate cakes from staff at the Tory conference to mark his 46th birthday yesterday. He said he was planning to celebrate by going out for a Balti curry in Birmingham with his wife Samantha, 41.

Deaf teenager Ellen Arthur, 15, of Abingdon, Oxon, is fighting to defend the rights of youngsters I AM angry. Being a teenager is difficult enough but for many deaf young people like me it can be even more challenging if we can't access things other young people take for granted - such as being able to hear what teachers say. But councils are cutting services deaf children need to achieve their full potential. That's why I want to tell your MPs about the Stolen Futures campaign, run by the National Deaf Children's Society. I am one of the lucky ones, my mainstream school provides specialist support from a Teacher of the Deaf and a teaching assistant. They make sure I understand lessons and monitor my progress. With this extra support, I am doing very well and feel fully included in school life. But I have friends who are not so fortunate.

Their help has been cut by penny-pinching councils and, as a result, they have failed their GCSEs. It upsets me that many deaf children in England are being deprived of the right to good education, so are failing in school.

I know that deaf children can do everything like other children, they just need to have the right support. In fact, I would like to become a teacher to support children like myself. That's why I have come to the Tory party conference. It is important for me because I want to help to make changes for the future. This is the party in power and I have come to tell MPs about the impact of funding cuts on schools.It makes me angry that friends and other deaf youngsters are not getting the support I receive and you need to stop them falling behind in class.It is essential to help deaf children get through school and make the most of their lives. Not everyone has the same experience and everyone has very different needs but, without the support at school, deaf children will be disadvantaged in later life through no fault of their own.

I want MPs to be aware of the issues and the need to improve services and not cut them. So, please, we need your support.Ellen 3THE NDCS believes deaf children are being set up to fail and wants to collect 100,000 signatures on its e-petition to force the Government to explain what it will do to protect services for deaf children. You can sign the petition at: http://epetitions.

Blind mum-of-three Terri Balon, 51, lives in Leigh, Lancs, and relies on her benefits to survive I WAS born severely sight-impaired but in my 30s, when I had children, it deteriorated even more. My condition, aniridia, runs in the family and means my vision is like looking through an opaque bathroom window. I have also developed glaucoma.

To me, your Government does not understand disability. I rely on my disability living allowance of PS105.90 a week to get by, but more than half of that goes on paid assistance, where a carer comes round for 12 hours every week.

Once they discovered a jam jar full of fly eggs where my daughters hadn't resealed it properly - I would never have noticed. Can you imagine what it would have been like if I'd eaten them? I have to spend a lot of money on washing powder because I'm more likely to get my clothes dirty. It also means it's costing more in terms of electricity and wear and tear on the washing machine itself.The bus stop is five minutes away, which might not sound very far, but when you're carrying heavy shopping and using a cane, using a taxi is the only option. That can be as much as PS24 a week.

I don't go out, I don't drink, I don't have money for treats or anything special and I can't really cook meals from scratch, so I rely on ready meals, which makes shopping more expensive. My weekly food bill can be as much as PS120 a week.

I don't need anything else to make me feel like a second class citizen, I already do. But any changes to DLA will make life untenable. I fear for my three daughters' future. There's already a school of thought that suggests those on benefits don't deserve them and don't want to work. This simply isn't true. Ask any disabled person and most will tell you they'd love to work if only they could. I'm also a single parent, which brings its own stigma.

There's a belief that the children of those on benefits will grow up on them too. Again, that's not true.

Please don't make any more cuts. The impact they have makes people more vulnerable and I fear for what will happen if more is taken from those who desperately need it.

Terri Unemployed Barry Witham, 37, of Middlesbrough, is struggling to find work in austerity Britain I HAVE been unemployed almost three years, but I'm desperate for a job. I started off in the Army at 16 and went into the Coldstream Guards. I left after a year because my wife Donna was ill after our first child. So I did a two-year mechanics course and studied numeracy and literacy.

After working in garages more than 10 years I lost my job and have struggled to find anything since. I have applied for countless positions, but you get 200 or 300 turning up for the same job. It is so demoralising - at my last interview, there were 150 people. It was ridiculous. I have been volunteering at my son's school's breakfast club to build up my CV. But in August I had a heart attack. Doctors said the stress of not being in work may have contributed to my condition.

Now I have to declare that I have been ill, and I think: who will give me work? I am on Employment Support Allowance, and have to wait for an MRI scan before I go for physical jobs. It may have to be a desk job, which is just not me. Child benefit is PS33 a week and child tax credit PS111 a week for two children. My ESA is PS222 a fortnight for me and my wife. I was on Jobseeker's Allowance before my heart attack, but now I have to be on the sick. We are always short of money. School uniforms are not cheap. Me and Donna have been together 16 years, but we've never had a holiday. We don't spend money socialising. We get housing benefit of about PS85 a week to cover the rent.

We wanted more children but if child benefits were cut, we couldn't even think about having another child.

We are on the breadline. Try walking around in my shoes for a while. I'll see what it's like to live on your income. I don't agree with families having seven, eight or nine kids, just so they can have more money. But who are you to tell us how many children we can have? You don't have a clue how the other half live. All I want is a decent job for a fair wage. Instead we struggle day to day. If the washer or TV breaks, we need hire purchase to replace them. We have expensive Provident and Shopacheck loans. I'm desperate to work but there is so much competition. Something has to be done about people who abuse benefits, but it is not all of us. Don't tar us all with the same brush. Barry Witham


MORE MISERY 3 David Cameron will outline cuts today

SUPPORT Campaigner Ellen

Terri is sight-impaired

STRESSED Jobless Barry had heart attack
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Oct 10, 2012
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