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Paula Peters is a friend of Vox Political who campaigns on behalf of the disabled (she has disabilities herself). Here, she writes about the value of the Independent Living Fund, which is scheduled to be closed by the Conservative-led Coalition government next year.

If you are disabled, you will appreciate what Paula has to say; if you are not, please try to imagine what it must be like to cope with debilitating conditions that can turn even getting out of bed into a feat of endurance. That person, one day, could be you. That’s why it is important to keep this fund open.

“I got up this morning, brushed my teeth, showered, ate breakfast, got dressed, checked my e mails, went to work, had lunch with colleagues, met with friends on the way home from work, popped in on my mum to see she was alright before coming home to do a couple of hours work on my open university degree before bed. I was able to do all this because the money from the Independent Living Fund that helps pay my personal assistant to support me to do the things I can’t manage to do directly because I have a condition that means my hands do not work and I get around using a wheelchair” – ILF receipent.

The money from the ILF helps pay for a personal assistant and enables disabled people who need support to have a quality of life do the same things everyone else can do. Live.

The government says, “ILF receipents will be reassessed by their local authority, and will be funded by the local authority”. The money given to the local authority to meet a disabled persons support needs will not be ring-fenced. The local authority can spend that money meant for disabled people and their support needs on other resources. Disabled people who need the support fear LESS or NO support at all and then being placed into residential care, far from friends and family.

Imagine this: Your local authority has cut your support needs, you would have to rely on the local pop in service, carers you do not know keep you clean, warm up a meal in a microwave, at a time convenient for the carer, but not at a convenient time for you. If you need night care you would then be forced to wear incontinence pads or even worse, be catheterised.

You would then be able to shower only once a week, have no social life, have to perhaps use a hoist and then be excluded from everyday activities outside, forced to give up the pets you rely on for company, no garden, forced into isolation, having to sack the personal assistant you relied on for many years, with no redundancy payment to give them.

Now you are thinking you do not want to go on anymore. It’s “how do I go on like this with little support”, and you are now isolated at home, cut off from society and from friends and family – and the lack of support means no independence, no social life, can’t work, no quality of life; it would make anyone feel down and even depressed. It’s awful to contemplate, isn’t it?

Disabled people want rights, rights to live independently in the community, to have our support needs met, so we can have a quality of life, and do the same things everyone else does. Live.

Society forgets that we are human beings – people. We are mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, neighbours, friends, colleagues; but society sees the impairment, not the person we happen to be. We are judged, discriminated against and called a drain to society. Well, we are not!

People can be born with an impairment, or at some point in their lives be struck down with a devastating illness, hit by a car, lose mobility, need to use a wheelchair to get around, have a breakdown, could lose a job and need to claim benefits to live. The social security system was put in place to protect those who needed the support, who may be too ill to work. If it happened to you, you would need the support every day to carry out the simplest of tasks. Life is unexpected, it’s cruel, and it’s tough, it can change in a flicker of an eyelash and it can happen to YOU!

Life is really hard as a disabled person every day. Trying to manage life with all the same worries as non-disabled people, money, keeping a job, family issues, health issues… How to get around using public transport. It’s bloody tough.

“The Independent living fund gave people with severe impairments the support needed to live life as we chose, so we could work, go shopping, feel part of society, a human being. A non disabled person is not used to thinking about how they would go to to the toilet, get in and out of the house, get to work, but we need to plan all those things in advance and ensure we have the support to do them.” – ILF receipent.

Our demand is to keep the ILF open, open it up to new claimants and open independent living to all disabled people so we can keep our independence and, with support, have a quality of life. And live.

All I ask of you is for your help. Help us save the Independent Living Fund from closing on 30 June 2015. As disabled people, we want rights. Rights to live as independently as possible, having a quality of life, despite what we face everyday with our various impairments and illnesses.

Why? Because we’re worth it! We are human beings, and we want to be treated as such, not as stock as the government and large swathes of society think we are. We are worth it! Help us keep the independent living fund open and help us with the fight for our rights so we can have a quality of life, living in society as best we can.

(C) paula peters 2014

You can help by joining the ‘Save The Independent Living Fund Postcard Campaign’.

Simply visit https://www.facebook.com/ILFpostcard?fref=ts, click on the ‘About’ link and follow the instructions.

Sometimes saving a person’s quality of life can be as easy as buying a stamp.

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