Real Life ....... Real Families
Have you heard of 7 Families? It was a charity led campaign to provide a tax-free income for one year to seven people who have lost their income because of a serious or long-term illness or disability.
The aim was to highlight the need for people to plan financially in case they become too ill to earn an income. The charity Disability Rights UK worked with seven families, where the main breadwinner had been forced out of work by an accident or illness and did not received any related insurance pay out.
The campaign had three aims: To raise public awareness of the financial impact of long term illness or disability; to help seven real families who were facing financial meltdown; and to demonstrate the value of independent living support, rehabilitation and counselling, through trying to help get people back to work.
Here are just a few of the real families that took part ........
Meet the Pickford Family
Meet Paul, a self-confessed workaholic.
Paul suffered a brain stem stroke which turned his world upside down and is now treating recovery as a full time job.
Paul Pickford from Bolton was fit and healthy and ran a car dealership until two years ago. In November 2012 at the age of 42 he suffered a brain stem stroke while at work. He is now paralysed and cared for by his wife Vicky.
“I was taken to hospital where, for a variety of care related reasons, I spent 14 months as an in-patient. I was discharged in January 2014 paralysed from the neck down, nil by mouth and unable to speak,” Paul explained via his Tobii i-12 eye gaze computer, which speaks whatever he types.
“The money Vicky and I receive and the access Seven Families gives me to experts who can offer advice on returning to work are godsends. I have not been affected cognitively, so if I cannot return to my previous employer the plan is to start some sort of business, although it would have to be something that can be controlled mainly via computer.”
Meet the Thornley Family
Meet Nikki, a police officer and mother of two, who lost sensitivity in her lower body after a motorcycle accident and was left wheelchair bound. Nikki is hoping to return to work in the police station in the near future and with the support from Seven Families can now afford to take the time she needs for rehabilitation.
In 2013 Nikki’s husband turned 40. To celebrate they decided to head off around Europe, child free for a couple of weeks, on two motorbikes. Unfortunately they never made it out of Scotland.
Nikki was paralysed in a motorcycle accident that has left her unable to work since.
“I’m still not exactly sure what happened. I lost control of my bike and hit a car. After a couple of days in a Borders hospital, I was transferred to the National Spinal Unit in Glasgow. I spent the next 11 months and 1 week (yes, I was counting!!) there away from my husband and two small boys. I don’t remember anyone actually telling me I would never walk again, I think it just became apparent over time” said Nikki.
“The biggest change to my life has been the transition from being someone who is so fiercely independent to having to ask for help, and I’m still trying to get my head around that now. It has been really difficult, especially when I see our cars flying around with their blues and twos on. However, I’m looking forward to going back work part-time, whatever it is I can do. As long as I’m able to add something I just want to get back to work.”
Meet the Clarke Family
Meet Tracey, after being hit by sudden blindness, its a case of all change for Tracey and her husband, who have switched bricks and mortar for a house boat and guide dog Oakley.
The first family to benefit from the project are Tim and Tracey Clarke, who live on a houseboat after financial difficulties forced the sale of the family home.
Tracey, who retains just 2% of her eyesight and will receive £600pm from the campaign, said: “We sold our house and bought a narrowboat, which is a much cheaper and more relaxed way of living. It is just about manageable on benefits but this additional money from 7 Families could be life changing.”
“Although I never had any functional vision in my left eye from birth it had never caused a problem. I drove a car, held an advanced driving licence, had a career as a Pharmacy Technician and did a lot of artwork. Then in 2011 my eyesight began to shut down completely for no diagnosed reason. There is no way that we could have afforded to keep the house and we were facing bankruptcy, but the 7 Families project is going to make an immense difference to us. Amongst other things I will be able to buy a laptop with the necessary specialist software that will allow me to work again. I then hope to begin to build a path into writing and publishing, which I can do from the boat.”
7 Families - For the full stories with further clips about the above three families, and also the other four families that took part, visit the official 7 Families website: http://7families.co.uk/