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calendar   Tuesday - March 24, 2009

Overweight and claim thousands in benefits - can’t work. Who do they blame? Anyone but themselves

THERE ARE 14 POUNDS TO ONE STONE.  SO YOU GUYS CAN WORK IT OUT IN POUNDS FOR THESE HIPPOS.

Naturally their weight is the taxpayer problem. What else would we expect?
I wish em luck and hope somehow they’ll get themselves out of this MESS.  I hope for their sake they can finally get help.  But it doesn’t look good, does it?

This has to be my final post for today .... will try my best to catch up on emails tomorrow if I can.
Thanks.

They weigh 80 stone, claim thousands in benefits - and can’t work. Who do they blame? Anyone but themselves
By JENNY JOHNSTON
Last updated at 10:21 AM on 24th March 2009

DAILY MAIL

This family say they are unable to work because they are too fat. They blame their GP, the Government, even Simon Cowell - but not themselves

There’s something a little surreal about listening to a family with a combined weight of nearly 80 stone falling over themselves to explain how little they eat. ‘Some days I barely eat at all,’ declares Emma Chawner, daughter of the house and, at 17 stone, its lightest occupant.

‘I don’t have breakfast most days. Sometimes I don’t have lunch either, and might only have a salad roll for tea. I’m always eating lettuce and apples and stuff.’

Her dad Philip (’22 stone, but I used to be 26’) nods in agreement. ‘I’m the same. Cornflakes for breakfast, a roll for lunch and one of those microwave meals for my dinner.’

image

A Weightwatchers one, Dad!’ interjects elder daughter Samantha (circa 18 stone). For her part, Samantha says she ‘is always eating salads’.

Only Mum Audrey (20ish stone, but understandably reluctant to be specific) seems off message. She has been asleep on the sofa for most of our interview, but wakes up in time to raise the issue of Easter eggs.

She points out that her girls get one each every year. Both leap in with clarifications. ‘Only a little one, Mum,’ says Emma. ‘Tiny. Like those little mini eggs,’ says Samantha, holding her thumb and finger about two millimetres apart.’

She admits there might be crisps and chocolate in the kitchen cupboards, ‘but they aren’t for us. They are for our niece. You have to have those things in the house for children, don’t you?’

Now a cynic might say that there is some overegging of the pudding going on here, so to speak. And the little trio of bottles standing by the armchair of the Chawner family living room, is certainly suspect. There is Lucozade, tomato ketchup and, for good measure, the heartburn remedy Gaviscon, a veritable holy trinity of overconsumption, surely?

Normally, it would be of no consequence what the Chawners eat, or whether their ample girths reflect their diet. But the family’s eating habits - indeed entire living habits - became a matter of national debate recently when they granted an interview in a weekly gossip magazine about how their weight has been a barrier to any of them finding work.

‘Too fat to work’, screamed the headline, while the article called them real-life Tellytubbies and accused them pretty much of sponging off the State while slobbing round on the sofa all day, eating pies.

Now, of course, they are declaring misrepresentation in extremis. They don’t eat pies, apparently. In fact, the way they tell it, the family budgie would struggle to survive on what they do actually eat. And the raking in of public funds? Nonsense!

‘They said we got £22,000 a year in benefits, but Mum totted it up and it isn’t quite that much,’ says Emma.

How much do you get, then? ‘I can’t remember, but it isn’t that much. All the figures were wrong, anyway. They said Dad was 24 stone, but that was rubbish. You are 22 stone, aren’t you Dad?’

The facts that aren’t in contention are these. There are four adults living in this Blackburn terrace home. None of them work, so their rent and living expenses are covered by the State. They are all medically obese.

s their size relevant to their reliance on benefits? They say yes. Both adults claim they have weight-related health issues which have rendered them disabled.

Philip, 53, suffers from diabetes and heart problems. Audrey, 57, has asthma and epilepsy (which no doctor would link to obesity, but she seems convinced that there is a connection).

Their daughters have health issues of their own, despite being only 21 and 19. Emma is already on medication for problems with acid reflux. Samantha claims she is losing the sight in one eye. ‘I’ve got a mole behind my eye which is growing. It might lead to cancer.’

She points out, however, that she is not on any medication. ‘Yet!’ insists her father, with an astonishing glee in his voice.

The girls claim they are both fit and well, despite their size. Samantha insists that she goes to the gym. Both trained as hairdressers, but have never had a paid job. Why? Again, it’s a matter of size.

‘People don’t want to employ large hairdressers, simple as that,’ says Samantha. ‘They won’t say it to your face, but that’s how it is. I’ve been in salons and done good interviews, but look around and it’s all skinny minnies. We’re discriminated against.

‘We’re the victims in all of this. It’s not our fault we can’t work. We’ve been accused of sitting around watching telly all day, well, it’s just not true.

‘We’ve both applied for hundreds of jobs. It’s not our fault no one wants to employ fat people. Someone should be helping us, not accusing us.’

The issues thrown up here are about as controversial as they come, so it’s not surprising that people have been getting het up about the Chawners, and all they represent.

What is surprising, though, is the level of vitriol they have inspired.

When I arrive, I walk straight into evidence of it. The family laptop is open on the dining table and there is an air of hysteria in the room. Emma has fled upstairs, in tears, after discovering a message on her Facebook site saying, ‘I hope you die’.

Her sister Samantha is stomping about, arms flailing, shouting: ‘I’m not having this. It’s disgusting.’

It’s all too much for Mum. ‘If Emma has one of her panic attacks, we are done for,’ says Audrey, raising her arm but letting it flop back down. Philip’s attempts to intervene seem equally ineffective. ‘How do you send a message back?’ he asks, peering at the keyboard. ‘I’m not sure how this works.’

What’s immediately striking is how stationary Audrey and Philip are amid all the commotion. In fact, during the 90 minute interview that follows neither of them moves once from their respective chairs. Just before Audrey actually falls asleep there is a curious moment when she tries to pass one of her daughters a magazine, but cannot reach, so gives up.

‘We love TV,’ Philip had told the magazine. ‘It’s on from the moment we get up. Often I’m so tired from watching TV I have to have a nap.’

Still the girls provide enough animation for both of them. Both keep leaving the room, for fag breaks, and to have whispered discussions about future media deals. There is a documentary maker present during the interview.

See More Below The Fold

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Posted by peiper   United Kingdom  on 03/24/2009 at 04:12 PM   
Filed Under: • Health-MedicineOdd-StrangeUK •  
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