Getting Photo ID Is Too Difficult! (An article on the stupid bureaucracy involved in getting ID.)

Updated: May 4, 2019

'No, I just don't feel comfortable doing it. I've not seen you in such a long time'. My previous mental health worker said down the phone rather hurried. She says this even though she saw me practically every day for over a year and actually encouraged me to update her of my progress once I had left. Obviously an embedded rehearsed statement from her training. Not something she actually meant.

'No. I'm not allowed to sign it the rules have changed. Sorry' Said my GP coldly. He isn't sorry though. I'm simply a number on a page, a file in a cabinet, an initial. Its five minutes out of his life that he would rather spend doing something else. Not helping me.

'No we cannot do it, we aren't insured and the rules have changed.' Said the people from my local bank, the same bank I've been with for the last seven years. Insured for what? I think to myself. Me using the ID to get a job bringing you all more cash flow? Treat the loss of your pen ink as an investment. Idiots.

'I don't think tutors can do it, can you ask someone else?' Was the pass the buck on excuse from my university tutor of the past year. Bizarre. What all of these people have said no to is signing my passport or provisional driving license form, so I can get ID to use for job interviews.

Tears slide down my face as I sip a cold coffee in the fast approaching darkness. It's 6pm. Outside cars are coming and going. Horns, beeping and the sound of incoherent chatter. People are returning home from work. My curtains are shut and the lights are dimmed. I'm upset as usual. I'm depressed, frustrated and so fucking lonely as usual too. I turn my music up loud. No, no, I just don't want to hear the people outside anymore. A job is the one thing I've always wanted so desperately but has always been the main thing I've been deliberately excluded from getting. If its not one thing its the other. Past criminal convictions (all related to my mentalhealth state whilst not receiving any help, I was just being passed from pillar to post and being told to 'just get on with it and be brave'.) or lack of work experience due to never been given a chance, or no photo ID, or, they just didn't like my face or the colour of my shoes that day. There is always some bureaucratic issue that I can't fight back against. I know that I'm being targeted and deliberately being kept down, but hey ho. It's 'the system'. I am supposed to just suck it up and accept that I am not being treat as a person. Fuck that. I'm not the kind of person to sit back and accept defeat. I've always shouted out at the top of my lungs against wrongdoing and will continue doing it for the rest of my time on this earth. Recently, with the help of a specialist support service called WYFI, I applied to work as a befriender for socially isolated people with mental health problems just like myself. I was invited onto the training course with open arms. Everyone was so open and friendly. I loved every minute of it. I want this job so much. Why? Because I genuinely like helping people. Especially the people that have had it tough too. I want to help people overcome the isolation, the abuse and the rejection just like myself. I want to make a difference. Good reasons no? Nah... the system just dosent work like that you see. I was given a free pen, a key ring and an information pack. They sit on my shelf. Sadly I've never been back. Why? I need a DBS check, which, with my convictions I doubt I'll get past but I don't even have enough ID to satisfy their draconian HR department to even start the DBS process.

For the past two months I've been sending documents back and forth via email to the co coordinator, just hoping this time it is going to be enough for them. No, it never is. I sent my birth certificate. They said it wasn't good enough because it was issued more than a year from my birth day. I sent my Citizencard ID card which has a clear PASS logo on, my date of birth and photo on. They said they don't accept them. No flexibility. I sent my tenancy agreement which has the Leeds city council logo sprawled all over it. Nope, they wouldn't accept that either. So, I went and got bank statements from my bank and rang the DWP to get my latest entitlement to ESA benefit sent to me. Still not good enough. They want me to get a passport or provisional driving license or I can't do the DBS. Unfair. The way i see it, all this time I've spent battling with the bureaucratic box ticking could have been spent on helping people. In terms of getting a passport or provisional driving license, these are both very difficult pieces of ID to obtain. Not many unemployed people have £85 to spend on a passport. Job offer or no job offer. Luckily, I do have the money, the professional photos needed, (which cost me six quid at the photo booth), my birth certificate and other documents. What i don't have though is the 'appropriate countersignature'. A surprise, as I am always surrounded by so called 'professionals' and 'support workers' due to the trauma and abuse I've endured during my life. Yet, ironically none of them can help me or 'support' me by signing my ID? Backward.

I am currently working with an occupational therapist. I knew her from about six years ago. She's one of the friendlier 'professionals' I've come across in my life. I asked her to sign my passport and passport photos and she did. However, she was not able to write her own passport number down on the form due to the rules surrounding giving personal details away. Odd one that, but i thought it would be okay. I rang the Passport office later that day to check. Nope. They said it needed to be filled in precisely and the examiner would NOT have the time to ring her to get the number because it wasn't included on the form. Oh, okay then. Nice to know people are understanding. Not. You see, not many people understand that some people literally don't know anyone. 'Can't you just ask a family friend? Or your teacher from college?' The woman on the other end of the phone from the advice line said, totally oblivious to the way some people go through life. A. There isn't any family friends, and B. I didn't go to college. People don't understand that some people have never lived, never being allowed to be a member of society let alone go abroad, drive or come home with a pay cheque. Some people have no parents. Some people are abused from zero months old. Some people, like me, are victimized and segregated for the rest of their life because of a mistake they made doing childhood and are abused by the very people you were told to trust. The effects of this shit follow you. Sometimes forever. Most people go to school, make friends, go to college and make further friends whilst getting qualifications and work experience, ID, and savings then enter employment or university. Most twelve year olds are practising for their GCSE's and trying to stay up half the night playing computer games. Nah, at age twelve I was locked in a small cell like room crying myself to sleep each night in a scary, overcrowded mental health hospital filled with abusive staff. Sorry my mind wandered. So, anyway, to try and find somebody 'suitable' I made a timeline of every address I've ever lived at in my mere 24 years of life and I noted down some people i remember from each address. I was shocked. I've had 18 different addresses in the past 24 years. Not through my own choice either. I've never had any stability. Whether due to being evicted or sexually assaulted, something has always gone wrong. Another reason getting ID aint easy for me. From hospital to another hospital, to a different hospital 100 miles away, to supported accommodation, hostels, bed and breakfasts. I've been there, I've done that. Most of the 'institutions' I was trapped in have actually now shut down, so I have no way of contacting the people I knew there. You lose contact with people pretty easily when you are sent around the country like a parcel you see. Excluding all of the people from the places that shut down, I still came up with a rather substantial 28 people that could legally sign my form. Not one of them signed it. GP, previous workers, member of the council, nah, I don't exist to these people. I have a criminal record, mental health issues and hardly any money. I'm not worth their time. I simply don't exist. Rejection as usual. All of my life I've battled with it. My mother never had any involvement in my life, I was raped and abused by the very people supposed to be looking after me in an NHS mental health hospital scandal from aged twelve to seventeen, I was denied education by the system so never obtained any A Levels. Mainstream universities wouldn't take me on due to my previous criminal record which mostly consists of 'harassment' in the form of me ringing various mental health crisis lines whilst cutting my arms and wrists with a razor. The NHS 'crisis lines' had me charged because they didn't think it was 'genuine enough'. Maybe if I just cut that bit deeper they would have helped. Or, I may not be alive. Newspapers have printed crap about me, insinuating i pretend to have mental health issues for 'attention', which resulted in me receiving death threats. Due to never having any stable address, I've never made any long lasting relationships or friends. And the only family member in my life is my father who battles suicidal depression, gets no mental health support (despite begging) and is getting very old. No sisters, no brothers, no cousins. Very few friends. Just me. It's an awful, lonely existence that wont change unless I get money to do things, hence why I desperately want to work. I study for a Degree with The Open University in English Literature & Creative Writing despite knowing full damn well I can never do my dream job of being an English teacher due to my criminal record. Suicide often is on my aching mind.

I am closed off from any professions that I am interested in and that would actually benefit me. Yet, I still battle on and continue to try and help others. Unfortunately the system doesn't want to help me back though. I'm surrounded by so called 'professionals' and 'support workers' who know my extensive history, yet, they are not willing or able to sign a form to help get me in to work or start driving. I've looked for voluntary work all year to no use. They either reject me due to no experience, are put off by my criminal record, or, because i don't have ID they don't accept me. So, to pass the day I often sleep. I find dream world much nicer than this harsh reality I am forced to be a victim to every single day. Imagine every day waking up knowing you can never do your dream job, or anything you are qualified in or interested in. Heartbreaking. Torture. Unfair. The thing is, I'm not able to do things i have no interest in. I am too much of a passionate person. I tried working in a shop for six weeks, it made me feel worse. It made me feel like I wasn't fulfilling my true potential, which, unfortunately is true. I just want to help others for the rest of my life. But, sadly, the ones who are the most enthusiastic and have the most to offer are the ones least likely to get the job due to the stigma and discrimination. Fact. I'm 24 years old in a few days and I've never had a paid job. As I've got older I've seen more and more rules that make zero sense come into play, put into practice by people with little or no experience of what it's like to be in my position. They make it harder and harder for people like me. No wonder people turn to crime and end up liking prison, because in prison one of the first things they do is assign you a job, ID or no ID. Backward isn't it. I just need someone to tick a box on the form for me and sign their name. Until that day comes, no ID means I don't exist in this system. No driving, no going abroad, no job. Nothing. Except from depression and the constant cycle of poverty.

Please share and comment if you think getting ID should be made easier and fairer. There shouldn't be a rule against applying common sense.

-Michelle Torez

UPDATE 05/10/2018

Sorry, I posted the update to twitter but not here. My bad. Okay so I've found someone who agrees to sign my provisional driving license as long as I sign it first and they send it off for me, so I don't see their personal details. Good. First hurdle over. Next step is seeing if the damn thing arrives, is rejected, or I have to attend one of those intimidating 'mental health medical assessments' by the DVLA due to the fact that I have mental health issues. I don't agree with these at all, I think they generalize people and if it comes to that, will be writing a full separate article on the matter. It seems that the people that want to succeed the most in this life are simply kept down the most. I am exhausted with all of this. I am not hopeful.

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