I was born with a condition known as Spastic Diplegia, a form of Cerebral Palsy which affects my lower legs and back. I have had several operations on both legs to stretch the muscles and tendons in the back of my legs and to correct problems with both knees. I was told by a Doctor when I was seven years old that I would never run, never walk properly, never play football like my friends.
As a child I had to deal with daily exercises that were excruciatingly painful and weekly physio and hydrotherapy. And then my knees started to dislocate - my right knee first and then both. I had operations to stabilise the patella (the kneecap), my right one as a teen and then my left in my early twenties.
Just under ten years ago I slipped during the winter on a patch of black ice, twisting as I fell. I spent the next five years recuperating, finding it difficult to walk and do many of the things most people take for granted. But I was raised with a work ethic, something my Father instilled into me from a very young age, so I tried to once again return and work.
Within two years I found myself worse than I had ever been, in daily agony and unable to walk more than a few feet without immense pain and having to rest. I now cannot walk without the aid of a walking stick and crutches, and walking around anywhere other than at home is almost impossible.
Without my Disability Living Allowance life would be extremely difficult for me. I wouldn't be able to get out, becoming a virtual prisoner in my own home. The DLA means I am able to lease a car through Motability, giving me a much needed way to get around. I cannot begin to describe how important this is to me! I also cannot put into words how scary the current Welfare Reform Bill is for someone like myself who relies on this benefit in this way.
I struggle every single day with my disability - I hate saying that about myself, believe me. I am in pain all the time, and there are many more people out there with similar and worse stories and experiences.
The Welfare Reform Bill is an ill-conceived piece of legislation, which targets the most vulnerable in our society. It will cause true hardship and I am proud to add my name to the growing list of people determined to fight the Coalition's plans.
I am Spartacus. Alone we whisper, together we shout.