As I am writing this, many of my friends and colleagues are at the House of Commons lobbying Parliament to keep the Independent Living Fund going. See this video by Rockinpaddy to give you an idea what it is about
I wanted to go but all signs tell me I might have dire consequences to pay if I did not pay attention to my feelings of dizziness and battles are fought on different fronts so I stayed home to tweet and retweet, repost on Facebook – the social media battle – and to write this blog instead.
Tweets are coming in at great numbers and I managed to catch a bit of the march and action from the livestreaming.
BUT why is keeping the ILF open important for people like me? I do not get the ILF I do not qualify – why fight for it to be kept open? Yes, apart from the fact that friends who receive it and are fearful that they will be institutionalised and unable to continue living an independent life – some people say they are a select few – the loss is theirs, why would it impact the wider disabled community?
My answer is that our loss would be the loss of the contributions to our community and society at large because they were enabled to achieve great things because they had the ILF. Today, on Liz Carr‘s Facebook status:
Off to protest against the closing of the Independent Living Fund – just over 6 months until the closure of this amazing fund that enables so many of us to steer clear of residential care. Without the ILF, there’s no way me or Clarissa on Silent Witness could do the stuff we do and live the life we do. Save the ILF!
I have also been influenced by other ILF recipients who showed me that my ideas about the barriers that disabled people faced can be challenged and overcome with the right support, the importance of the Social Model of disability. The ILF enables awesome women I know like Sophie Partridge, Anne Pridmore, Penny Pepper, among others, comedian Laurence Clark and in memory, Nick Danagher (he was a trustee of the ILF), David Morris and Rowen Jade. People like them give me the push towards campaigning on disability rights – that we can achieve.
My fears for the closing of the ILF? That those people – the countless (18,000?) who depend on the ILF will not be able to contribute to the diversity of the community, those who are more disabled might be left in residential homes and unable to participate in their communities because they have less access to an independent living. The UK was one of those countries uniquely supportive of disabled people, will the local authorities be able to support these people as the ILF has?
The fact that I am not physically there, in London, shows partly the barriers of disabled campaigners, that we have to be more organised, and priortised our energy and time much more than non disabled people. And we need accessibility and support and closing the ILF means that the one support that enables disabled people which is not subject to postal lottery, is portable so that it moves with you, will be gone. We need to make sure that these disabled people are not left to languish in residential homes or house bound with carers from agencies where they have to choose between ‘Having a shit or a shave’ (Brian Hilton in a note read by Ellen Clifford) in the allotted 15 minutes.
Listening to the livestream at the House of Common, admirably chaired by Caroline Lucas MP (Green Party), we can see the importance of the ILF to disabled people and how the present ILF recipients think that it should be reopen to younger and new egligible disabled people. One thing obvious to me is that this next election will be very important – who should we vote for?
Follow #saveilf for tweets on this