‘Errol Graham, a desperately ill man who died of starvation when his benefits were cut off, wrote a moving letter pleading with welfare officials to “judge me fairly” because he was overwhelmed by depression.
The handwritten letter, seen by the Guardian, was released by Graham’s family as they launched a legal attempt to prove that the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) acted unlawfully and put him at risk by failing to put in place effective safeguards to protect vulnerable benefit claimants.
His relatives say Graham’s letter is a heartfelt and humble attempt to describe the agony of his long-standing mental illness, which left him frequently lonely, cold and hungry. It was never sent, but was discovered in his flat by his family after he died, aged 57, in June 2018.
The letter describes how illness turned Graham, a keen footballer in his younger days and a doting grandfather, into a withdrawn and anxious person for whom daily life became a torment. “On a good day I open my curtains, but mostly they stay shut,” he wrote. “I find it hard to leave the house on bad days. I don’t want to see anyone or talk to anyone. It’s not nice living this way.”’