Many thanks to all of you who signed up to our letter to Ed Miliband asking Labour to commit to keeping the ILF open –at least until something better could be found to allow disabled people to live independently in the community. In less than a week we collected 21 x A4 size pages of signatures, more people are also asking to sign up. This shows how important this issue is to us – as disabled voters.
Sadly we have to tell you all that in spite of one of our steering group members trying to organise handing over that letter through a supportive Labour MP Ed Miliband has turned his back on disabled people, once again, and refused to accept the letter from us.
At the Labour party event for International Day of Disabled People Ed was asking how he could get disabled people to vote for him. Well we have a very loud and clear message for Mr. Miliband: it is not by refusing to engage with us when requested, and it is not by ignoring the rights that disabled people have to live independently in the community.
Our Christmas message to Ed is that he needs to take on board the reality of the voting power of the 12.2 million disabled people and their families in this country if Labour are serious about being elected.
We’d also like to ask all of you, but especially those who signed up to our letter to send your own letter or email direct to Ed from January 5th onwards.
Post: House of Commons, London, SW1 0AA
I/We disabled people/ family/ friends/ supporters and allies, are asking for your help. We are asking you to pledge to keep the Independent Living Fund open to existing applicants, pending a review of Independent Living for all disabled people.
As you may know, on the 8th of December at the High Court, a ruling was given against our challenge to the closure of the ILF , and we were not given leave to appeal.
The closure of the ILF effectively signals the end of the right to independent living for disabled people in the UK. Whilst never perfect the ILF represents a model of support that has enabled thousands of disabled people to enjoy meaningfully lives and to contribute to society as equal citizens.
Since the closure of the Fund to new applicants in December 2010 we have seen disabled people left with their most basic needs unmet and unable to seek employment, to volunteer or go into education or simply even to leave the house.
But we have vowed to fight on against the ILF closure, disabled people will not be pushed back into the margins of society, we will not go back into the institutions, our place is in the community alongside our family and friends and neighbours and we are fighting to stay.
We ask you to imagine what it will be like, for people who have been enabled to live a full life, be with friends and family, go out, work, study and enjoy recreation, to have all that taken away, and find themselves trapped inside, all day, every day, with choices over what they do, when and how, removed.
To severely disabled people the Independent Living Fund represents the difference between having an existence, and having a life.
If you want our vote then keep the Independent Living Fund.