Former Olympic Games Maker faces losing vital care under cruel Government cuts.

VIDEO: The coalition’s cruellest cut?

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Mary Laver, a former RAF servicewoman, campaigner, and friend, has severe rheumatoid arthritis.

She can’t stand, she can’t move her arms, she hasn’t fed herself in over fifteen years.

Mary relies on a team of carers to help her complete everyday tasks, like eating, drinking, and going to the toilet, but the coalition Government is trying to take that care away.

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David Cameron’s government have tried to close the Independent Living Fund, that Mary and 20,000 disabled people in the UK rely on to pay for vital care.

Mary doesn’t see herself as disabled. A former driver in the RAF, an Olympic torch bearer, a Games Maker, she travelled from John O’Groats to Lands End in her power chair to raise money for Help For Heroes.

“I’m a person in a wheelchair,” she said yesterday at an emergency meeting at the House of Commons, showing the film to MPs, journalists and campaigners.

In the film, Mary talks with pride about carrying the Olympic Torch through the the streets, accompanied by her doctor.

“It’s a very special experience and I wanted to share it with somebody. The person I wanted to share it with had died, and I thought, who’s the one person who has walked my walk with me over the last 25 years? My doctor.”

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Mary relies on 18 hours of care a day, and since losing the use of her hands and arms, relies on her carers to feed her, make a cup of coffee, help her to go to the toilet – the simple everyday tasks that we take for granted.

“It’s really quite disabling because you can replace your legs with wheels, but when your arms start to bend and your hands start to go, you really are incapacitated.
“You can’t feed yourself. Other people have got to take over the functions of your hands and arms.”

With the impending cuts to the ILF, Mary would have an hour of care twice a day, and would spend her days and afternoons alone in her chair, alone, trapped in a body that is wasting away. Her slender frame has plummeted to 6 stone with worry over recent weeks.

Mary doesn’t have to use her imagination to tell us what a life without the ILF would be like – but her memory. Before the ILF, she had spent two years in her bed, alone, with minimal care.

“The ILF literally gave me my life back. Without it, I’d spent two years in my bed, watching the seasons change. Then the ILF funding came along, saying you don’t have to live like this.
“I can do things that other people take for granted, things you would class as normal.
“Because I can’t use my hands, I can’t have a cup of coffee. But for now I’ve got someone here to do that for me.”

ILF users worry that without the ILF, councils won’t be able to afford night care.

“To me, night care is vital. Once I’m in bed I can’t move, so if there was an emergency, or I need a wee, I just couldn’t do anything about it. I feel very vulnerable at night.”

Desperate not to deteriorate any further, she talks harrowingly of the pond at the end of her garden:

“It’s the only way I could take my own life. It’s quite deep… It wouldn’t take long.”

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Please share Mary’s video:

VIDEO: The coalition’s cruellest cut?

Tweet it, share it on Facebook, and urge people to sign the WOW Petition, calling for an investigation into the war on welfare for disabled people:

http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/43154

Jack Monroe.
Twitter: @MsJackMonroe

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Categories: Blog

25 Comments »

  1. This brought tears to my eyes. the ILF brings dignity and independence to people. It is a front line social care service, and should be exempt from cuts. This government wastes so much money just through over blown expenses and poor procurment processes – why not clean it’s own house before torturing people with additional needs?

  2. Poor woman. Personally, I simply wouldn’t attempt to live a life like that. I would have gone many years ago. BUT it’s everyone’s right to decide for themselves what they do and don’t find tolerable. Unlike me, she obviously does find a life of such a high level of illness tolerable PROVIDED she has an adequate level of care. Since she has made this decision to continue living in such an ill body, then I feel her care should continue to enable her to do so. Two hours a day of care would probably about cover a daily shower and feeding her one meal a day – so what would she be supposed to do about her other meals/going to the loo/getting the housework done/etc? They would be making it literally impossible for her to continue with her choice of continuing to live if she were deprived of most of her care. Seems to me sometimes that the Government wants it all ways – not to give people adequate care to continue living (if that is their personal choice) or to end it all painlessly (if that is their choice). They are putting people in between the devil and deep blue sea and not enabling them to even have one of those options – still less make the choice between the two for themselves. So just what ARE people in that situation supposed to do? That is a genuine question…and not a rhetorical one.

  3. Very very worrying and upsetting

    My girlfriend has RA too & she’s only 29 – I’m so scared of what stage she will get too. We don’t even liv in the same country yet & when I read stuff like this feel like time is just slipping away…

    • This blog might be encouraging/of use to your girlfriend: http://pollyannapenguin.wordpress.com/

      For what it’s worth, I know several people in their 40s with RA who lead active lives and have fulfilling careers (because I’m in my 40s, not because there’s any kind of cut-off point). More pressure is needed for better research into treatments, but treatments are improving.

      • thanks misspiggy, I will pass that on. she reads various message boards but I’m sure will want to read more. she’s in the US, so believe she’s getting good treatment, but my god the fact that w e have t sort out so much in our life yet, I feel like its this big monster hanging over our heads, I’m a little older and def feeling the pressure of not wanting to waste any time.

  4. Perhaps it should be compulsory for the people who make up these rules to spend a month in a wheelchair themselves.

    This would perhaps make them aware of the problems and give them an insight into the requirements of disabled people.

    It must be very easy from the comfort of their nice offices with huge salaries and perks to deprive our most needy of their small degree of independence.

  5. Surely Jack this must be a breach of human rights?…if our daft laws can pay a huge compensation to an illegal immigrant held longer than deemed necessary then taking away Mary’s right to access a reasonable life has to be a greater crime…any human rights lawyers out there going to sue the government for Mary?

    • There are efforts to report all these abuses to the UN under the Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities. The UK goverment is already getting criticism from the UN, but these processes take a long time. It’s shameful that so many poorer countries are doing all they can to meet the terms of the Convention, but the UK is choosing to go backwards.

    • And why do you think this government wants to pull out of The Human Right Act and why do you they want to pull out Europe … So many people in the UK want this but don’t see the hole picture there would be far more of this kind of thing but then our gloriouse leader knows all about the care of a Disabled child and the 24 hour care it had and the house that he bought for it.

  6. Mary – I send you love and hugs – and as Ceridwen said – you have the right to live your life as you see fit – with all the support that you need to do that.The sheer callousness of this government has ceased to surprise me – we must get them all out! But is there (seriously) a viable alternative? Not New Labour surely….and Left Unity and The People’s Assembly are already bickering!

  7. Slowly but surely I’m creeping towards Mary’s situation, for the time being I’m still able to drive my adapted car which the move to pip could take away, my hands are really going down hill fast at the moment i’m hoping the decay will halt soon for a while, I’m still able to do a reasonable amount of house chores, not as often as I’d like but living alone there is no one to see it when the house gets a bit grubby and dusty. Could I live as Mary does? I’m really not sure, I don’t think so, her bravery to fight with her own personal disabilities is incredible, that kind of fight needs to be rewarded with all the care she needs! whatever the cost and for along as she needs it.
    However it’s becoming quite obvious to me that and I hate saying this, Mary’s death even at her own hands so to speak would be a financial triumph for this government, as are the many other deaths that are still happening due to ATOS and DWP the stats on these deaths are no longer collected, the last figures quoted were 74 deaths a week since this government came into power.
    I so hope that people back Mary and she gets what she should, all the care she needs to live her life as comfortable as she possibly can

  8. And how many millions was spent on the tory bastard Thatchers funeral? Have we really became a nation governed by a TWAT who looks after the dead and not the living? This bastard and his fucking rent boys should be lined up and shot.

  9. I actually applied to work with this very brave lady but could not take the opportunity. I now work with with 2 adults who rely on a team of carers for their total care. If we were not there they would have o go into hospital or a care home where they would sit and vegetate instead of leading active lives. Why should Mary or anyone have to live with the indignity of having to wear a urine soaked pad for hours just beacause they can only go to the loo once in the day when the carer comes in..not nice..no! but that is the reality. Stop handing out money to MP’s for second holmes and expenses and give it to those who deserve it.

  10. Hi This is Mary Laver. Can i just say a very big and sincer thank you to you all for your support and comments, they are very much appreciated. We have to save the ILF not only for people like me but for the generation who are coming behind us and need this type of funding. Please write to Ros Wynne-Jones

    roswynne@yahoo.co.uk
    with your support Mary

  11. Hi Mary. my Mum had this terrible disease for about 28 years sadly she passed away about 7 years ago, after a hip replacement went wrong. My Mum had most of her joints replace, not once but twice in that time, from shoulders, elbows, knees and hip.. She like you was an amazing woman and, tried to live life to the fullest even although she was in constant pain. She was house bound most of the time. My Mum had carers three times a day. They made breakfast, and lunch in the morning, Cleaned kitchen, made Mums bed and emptied her commode, then they came back in the evening and did dinner and got Mum ready for bed at about 6.30 -7pm I will sign this petition, as i feel very stongly about your situation and, wish my Mum could have had more help. My Mum lived in Glasgow and I live in London.

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