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The Art Of The ILF Campaign / 6 March 2013

I have spent many a minute this afternoon listening to the wit and wisdom of Sophie Partridge, Kevin Caulfield and Gabriel and Penny Pepper – all of whom appear on you tube videos (find all four videos here) in defence of the soon to be closed Independent Living Fund.

Each video touches on principles of independent living that became very important to me growing up as a disabled activist, ie. Ideas around choice, control, independence and empowerment wherein we become contributors, participants, people with a voice, people who grew through investment in resources and intellectual concepts, like freedom, liberty, equality.

Each of our video stars make these ideas resonate, Here are the people who prove what can be done, what could be achieved. Icons with value in their communities and in our wider disability community. ILF resources produced artists, writers, students, workers, campaigners. ILF Funding gave meaning to life. 

Penny Pepper draws the parallel with the Disability Living Allowance which was known as the equalising benefit. I am a disabled person. I have these costs that non disabled people do not have, which must be met if I am to survive. I need more meds, more heating, a different diet, different transport needs, etc. Well that has gone too and we move towards the PIP. The ILF is to become un-ring fenced monies left at the disposal of local authorities. Are they to be trusted? Will they insist that care is provided in a different way, at a cheaper price, by less reliable workers. Isn’t this the way LA’s have been acting for years. Quantity not quality. Will it mean the return of the institutions?

In raising these matters it was not my intention to become political or even to comment on the successes we wrought in bringing around cultural change which is now oh so retrograde but to comment on the style of the campaign, the importance of using our stories and bringing our real life experieince to bear and as activists to realise the risks in this, in telling toomuch about ourselves, in letting others get the wrong end of the stick - this is not about a sick pathetic crip, this is about life. . Following the campaign I am becoming ever more aware of other peoples stories too – some others will be recorded on video – but most are text heavy. We see people standing up to be counted, giving their names and their situations, allowing themselves to be identified by face, voice or situation. None are claiming to be tragic nor brave but, some tell of the whiff of fascism which takes away life options, which lead to houses on the hill which may or may not have life sized ovens and there is a courage in this.

This campaign also centres around a legal challenge and will include a vigil to save the ILF and our right to Independent Living at the Royal Courts Of Justice, The Strand, London, WC2A 2LL on March 13th from 12.30