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Last Updated: Wednesday, 4 August, 2004, 20:00 GMT 21:00 UK
Brain damaged girl's benefit loss
Thelma and Amy Pickard
Amy was 17 when she collapsed in a toilet in Hastings
A mother has said she will find it impossible to visit her brain damaged daughter in care because her benefits book has been withdrawn.

Amy Pickard has needed 24 hour care since collapsing from a heroin overdose in Hastings, East Sussex, in 2000.

Her mother Thelma moved to a caravan to be near Amy's Kent nursing home but said it is hard to cope financially.

The Department for Work and Pensions said the problem was caused by human error but Amy's money may be reduced.

At the end up of the day we just hope for recovery - we just hope for a miracle
Thelma Pickard
Amy was 17-years old and pregnant when she collapsed from the overdose in a public toilet although Thelma is convinced she was not an addict.

Since then Mrs Pickard has sold her home in the East Sussex town and is living in a caravan in Maidstone to be near her daughter's nursing home in Tunbridge Wells.

She said: "This is all we can afford, to survive it is literally a survival course so I can be near to Amy

"I am only half an hour away from her and I can just about stand to do that."

But now Amy's 15 a week benefit has stopped after the benefits book was withdrawn.

Mrs Pickard's caravan
Mrs Pickard sold her home in Hastings and moved to a caravan

Mrs Pickard said: "I have not had a letter, I have not had a phone call, I have no idea why Amy's benefits have been stopped.

"It is a lot of money when you consider I have to put in 40 to 50 alone in petrol to get to see my daughter - that 15 helps enormously."

"I just have to keep going - there is something inside me that just drives me to keep going, to battle on and just give her as much of my energy and my postiveness as I possibly can.

"At the end up of the day we just hope for recovery - we just hope for a miracle."

The Department for Work and Pensions said in a statement: "We can not comment on individual cases - but if someone is receiving incapability benefit in hospital it is reduced after 52 weeks.

"With regard to Amy's mother having her book retrieved, we believe it is down to human error and are trying rectify it by getting in contact with the person involved."

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