IFL Ends. What Next?


Today we mourn the passing of a reliable and life changing Service.

Many Disabled people have based their lives around this Service, which has enabled us to live our lives Independently, with Dignity and Stability. Also it has given us the independence to Integrate into society and our communities. With this independence achieving goals and aspirations are now possible) which were only ‘mere hopes and dreams’) before the Service, came available to us.

Having these Services (which to every able-bodied person is just an everyday occurrence) has changed lives and has ‘made a difference’ . Many of us were involved with the consultation process including many able-bodied people, who could see the importance of this and were affected directly by their friends and loved one’s using this Service.

Many of our MPs who also could see the importance of people with a disability having this service, who ‘stood up’ and put our case forward to the Government to continue supporting and investing funds into this important Service.

Not forgetting the staff and caseworkers who worked for the Independent Living Fund, these dedicated people visited each client individually and assessed their needs. These people helped to give independence and dignity to those that needed it. As the importance of the funding became ‘apparent’ and despite many consultations extra funding was not made available, the government just did not ‘listen’.

As we stop for a minuet’s silence at the passing of this Service.

Please spare a thought for those people who cannot advocate for themselves, who are constantly worrying and are not sure of their independence and stability for the future. We have been assured however; that the Service will continue with our Local Authorities (this funding has not been ring fenced and could be subject to change in the future), in these worrying times of cutbacks; this is a concern for all.


Thank you for changing our lives, we will never forget you…..

Independent Living Fund service user.



Now I am not usually one to stand up and rant and protest about the farcical “Powers who run this Country” (first of all ‘standing ‘ would be a bloody miracle in itself – the other the Old Boy’s Club who supposedly run this Country “Listening ‘ would be another ….)

But here I am ….. I have heard the Government are in a dilemma about what to do with the Houses of Parliament …. This important building designed and built by our ancestors, (they obviously didn’t foresee the prospect of global warming and rising sea levels…?) now that’s anther ‘rant’ for another time…)

so this important, regal building is falling into desolation and decay… Mother Nature is reclaiming her own where she can and ‘good old acid rain’ is doing the rest….

The total cost of returning this building to its former glory and updating it to accommodate today’s technology (which will be outdated by the time it’s completed (familiar theme here….) The sum runs into Billions! This is ludicrous and immoral !!….

That amount of money could be put to a better use… (All of which I am lead to believe being paid for by the Tax Payer…) Firstly on a topic close to my heart , the death bell on the ILF (Independent Living Fund ) is tolling and closes on 30th June. Bringing to an end the independence and stability a lot of severely disabled people have relied on and built their lives around. There are numerous other excellent Services and good causes being withdrawn and will change people’s lives who desperately need these to live and survive…

Now, Guy Fawkes tried to ‘do his bit’ history tells us, so either pull it down or make the building safe and accessible for use as a tourist attraction (ideally give it to the National Trust to run , leaving the tax payer nothing to pay..)

Then there is the quandary ‘if they move’ and where?. Now that’s another thing they are concerned about’ – should they stay there and have the work carried out around them and take longer – And more Money or move out and it takes less time and Less Money…? ) no doubt countless hours of important parliament time will be wasted talking about this dilemma ..

Then the other question , If we move out where do we go?.. Now to the ‘common man’ that’s easy… How about choosing one of those many empty buildings the Government has paid for which they are tied into long term rent for and doesn’t use… This would make Sense… All they need are some pull out chairs so to sit on and then they can continue their business of debating and running this country…

So please, please listen to good old common sense and don’t waste any more Tax Payers Money… !!!

Thank you for taking time out of your day to ‘listen’ ……

I’m not a political activist, but it frustrates and saddens me to plainly see that wasting money on an old building is wrong, when there are peoples lives being effected due to lack of appropriate funding..

If you too feel strongly about this please pass this around and voice your own opinions, we do live in a Free Democratic Society they tell us!… ( who are they..?)


Take care



Person with a Disability.

Also Independent Living Fund Service user.

Arts @ Pinders Christmas Cards – 2014.


The Arts@Pinders Therapy Group consist of inpatients and ex patients who meet every Monday afternoon at the Spinal Injuries Unit, Pinderfields Hospital, Wakefield. http://goo.gl/KSqKMn

We as a group decided to design and Produce a set of Christmas Cards and make available on the Ward to patients and their families, not forgetting outpatients, friends, colleagues and associates of Spine. http://goo.gl/BYXe3D This has all been made possible by our Arts@Pinders Sponsors Coloplast. http://goo.gl/PTve8v who have generously agreed to pay for the printing and packaging.


All the proceeds for the cards being returned to the Arts@Pinders funds. The six designs illustrate the diversity and unique styles of the individual Artist’s, the cards have matching envelopes and are in a bespoke card package.

The design and card preparation for print, kindly accomplished by our own Web Designer and friend of Spine Steve Johnson @uimedia.co.uk http://goo.gl/68mAAH


Each pack contains 2 sets of each 6 designs and matching envelopes, this is a pilot project and if successful future cards and a calendar are a possibility.

So please help us to make this a success, look out for the cards on the Spinal Unit!

Thank you

Jon Clayton. Arts@Pinders

Nationwide Take Over Day

I was kindly invited to take part in the Nationwide Take Over Day, and had a great afternoon with the A Level Art Students at John Leggott College Scunthorpe http://www.leggott.ac.uk/

After a talk about my life and life as a Mouth Artist, we all drew objects from a still life composition set up for us by the art Tutor Michael Burkitt.


The students all did really well despite the disadvantage of never attempting drawing by mouth before. After talking about my Art and the Association of Mouth & Foot Painting Artists for which I belong http://www.mfpa.uk/

The experience of actually drawing by mouth themselves has made them appreciate the unique skill and determination that goes into learning to draw that way.


Trying to re think how to use their own drawing skills and applying them in a totally different manner, was I’m sure, something they will think about in the future.


I have nothing but admiration for all the students who took part in this exercise, I hope they learn from it to develop their own skills and go forward with their careers in the art world. I wish them all good luck and with that importantly enjoy their art!


A huge Thank-You to the Art Students, Tutor Michael Burkitt for making us most welcome (and for ‘the cups of tea’) to Sarah Newton (Participation Assistant at the People Directorate, Hewson House, Brigg) who arranged it all and finally John Leggott College for inviting myself and Mo (my Personal Assistant) along to take part in the Nationwide Take Over Day.


Look forward to the next one!


Jon Clayton

Mouth Artist.

Mouth & Foot Artists Exhibition in the Towner Gallery, Eastbourne. 24th October – 26th October. 2014

I attended the Exhibition along with my other painting colleagues from the M.F.P.A. http://www.mfpa.uk/ There were paintings on display from every country within our Association. The vibrancy of colours and topics of each painting gives an excellent example of the skills and dedication from the Artists. Among these paintings were individual pieces from the U.K. Artists. Some Artists brought their painting equipment and were demonstrating their skills to the public, the wonderful, positive comments were gratefully received. Actually seeing the paintings being created is important to each Artist as this demonstrates their techniques and skills individual to all.


Congratulations to the three winners of the Inspirational Award Painting Competition kindly Sponsored by the Deutsche Bundesbank. All the paintings entered for the completion were all displayed and I myself can comment it was a refreshing challenge to paint something totally different.

The Towner Gallery http://www.townereastbourne.org.uk/  has a great Exhibition space and the public response who visited the Exhibition over the weekend was overwhelming. The Gallery Staff were very helpful and the Catering Team who did us proud with a lovely buffet on our Exhibition opening evening, all the Staff working late to ensure our evening went smoothly.


My colleagues and I all stayed at the View Hotel Eastbourne, http://theviewhoteleastbourne.com/ this was our first visit to this hotel and the facilities for people with a disability was very good. The Disabled rooms were spacious and the furniture within the room was easy to rearrange to suit our individual needs. With the added bonus of having a ramped access out onto the balcony to take advantage of the spectacular views of the sea and beachfront. The access within the hotel was very good, I myself being a large electric wheelchair user found the lifts suitable to use, along with the spacious corridors which made for a pleasant experience.


The Bar Staff were very helpful and accommodating, the Restaurant meals were very appetising with a large menu to choose from and the Staff could not be more helpful. I have to say a ‘special thank you’ to the porters; who were exceptional in assisting us our abundance of equipment we need to take away with us. A ‘big thank you ‘to the cleaning staff who’s everyday chore was to try and attended to our rooms every day, with the rooms being totally disorganised to suit our needs.

Mouth and Foot Painting Artists Exhibition. Tuesday 21st October – Sunday 26th October. 2014.

Mouth and Foot Painting Artists Exhibition Tuesday 21st October to Sunday 26th October2014 In the Towner Gallery, Eastbourne. http://www.townereastbourne.org.uk/event/mouth-and-foot-painting-artists-exhibition/

Some of the Artists will be demonstrating their painting skills during the Exhibition, if you are in the area – please come along. I myself will be attending the Exhibition and will be staying in the View Hotel, Eastbourne. http://theviewhoteleastbourne.com/ Along with my other painting colleagues from the U.K. Artists.

This weekend is an opportunity to meet old and new colleagues, we have not met for two years and this weekend allows us to talk about our individual styles and our aspirations for our work in the future.

The exhibition has works of art from all the U.K Artists and is an opportunity for all to view the pieces and the other paintings on display

Hands off my independence ILF legal challenge

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The Department for Work and Pensions will be in the high court again next week on 22nd and 23rd October, this time to face a second legal challenge brought by disabled people over their decision to close the Independent Living Fund.

The Independent Living Fund (ILF) was set up in 1988 to provide support to disabled people with the highest support needs to live in the community. Since then it has enabled thousands of disabled people to live full and meaningful lives, able to contribute to society and participate through education, employment, volunteering and taking on caring roles within their own families. ILF recipients employ teams of Personal Assistants thereby contributing to their local economies. This is not, as the DWP has suggested, disabled people being over-privileged. This is providing disabled people with opportunities to live a more ordinary life in the face of the multiple barriers and discrimination they face.

In November 2013 the Court of Appeal quashed a previous government decision to close the Fund. The Court of Appeal judges were unanimous in their view that the closure of the fund would have an ‘inevitable and considerable adverse effect which the closure of the fund will have, particularly on those who will as a consequence lose the ability to live independently” (ref)

In March 2014 the then Minister for Disabled People announced a new decision to close the ILF in June 2015 (ref)

Solicitors for the disabled claimants will be arguing that the government failed to consider any new information or to discharge their equality duties.Without the ILF and in the context of the crisis in social care disabled people will be entirely reliant on already over-stretched local authorities to meet their support needs (ref) (ref)

The amount that the government has committed to devolve to local authorities to help them meet their new responsibilities is short of the amount currently spent by the ILF on direct support for disabled people. It also does not take account of all those disabled people who would have been eligible for support from the ILF before it was closed to new applicants in 2010. Since then disabled people have ended up trapped in their homes without basic needs such as washing or feeding being met.

My Story

I have a disability due to a spinal injury 36 years ago, resulting in me being completely paralysed from my neck down. I live alone in my own home in Bottesford, Scunthorpe with the help of my live- in Personal Assistants. I live independently with funding from the I.l.F. Direct Payments and my DLA contribution.

I have had funding from the I.L.F. since 1994 and I have been greatly disturbed and worried about the Government’s decision to stop the I.L.F. funding in 2015. I took part in the consultation explaining in great detail my concerns for myself and other fund users when it is handed over to the local authority.

With financial assistance from the I.L.F. I have had a level of independence which has enabled me to live independently and more importantly be in control of my care package and live my life. I have not asked my local authority for any assistance with my care and I have managed my finances paying my staff and tax contributions with the aid of my personal assistant. Due to my I.L.F. funding my life has been greatly enriched and I have been able to fully integrate within my community. When the I.L.F. funding is withdrawn and goes to my local authority there are no guarantees of funding cuts or that I can continue with my present independent lifestyle, with the aid of my personal assistants.

This decision made by the government is going to have a tremendous impact on the thousands of disabled people who rely on this funding. They cannot begin to understand what it is like to build and fulfil your life with this funding, to be told it was going to be withdrawn and no one can give guarantees that it will continue with their local authority continuing with the funding.

I have contacted my local M.P. Nic Dakin who has already participated in a debate in Parliament on this important subject, highlighting my own personal circumstances as an example of this life changing decision and he is an active contributor to our cause.

The closure of the ILF is such a major concern to disabled people that over the Summer they occupied the grounds of Westminster Abbey in order to try to draw attention to the seriousness of the issue. Over 300 police turned up for a group of around 70 wheelchair users and supporters (ref)

The issue has also attracted international attention. The UK is currently under investigation for grave and systematic violations of the rights of disabled people (5), while disabled campaigners in countries as far away as Canada have protested outside their British embassy.

On Wednesday 22nd October 2014 from 12.30pm ILF recipients and supporters including Disabled People Against Cuts, Inclusion London, the National Anti Bedroom Tax and Benefit Justice campaign, Winvisible and Taxpayers Against Poverty will be gathering for a vigil outside the high court to show solidarity with the disabled claimants taking the case.

Official Ceremony at the Spinal Injuries Unit at Pinderfield’s Hospital


The opening of the new olympic themed dining room  at the spinal injuries unit at Pinderfield’s Hospitalon September 22nd 2014

Yes it’s me next to one of those very special Olympic Torches from the 2012 Paralympic  Games, this was kindly donated to the Pinderfields Spinal injuries Unit by  Mrs Tanya Veingard. This was the only evening any of those attending the would have the opportunity to have photographs taken with the torch before it is safely mounted behind glass and put on show on the Unit.

Now I’m not a huge sport fan, but couldn’t resist standing near it for my one and only chance….. Seriously the evening was a Huge success and the decorations on the Walls are a true accolade to these Sportsmen and Woman who had strived to compete with fellow Sportsmen and become the best in their sports. This legacy of Sportsmen and Woman are a true inspiration to up and coming athletes, who in their own right may be fortunate to have their Photographs and Names on these walls.


The emphasis on sport as a form of rehabilitation, is an important part of the ethos within the Spinal Unit. Being focused to gain the strength and stamina to compete and the importance to look forward to a new and different future as a disabled person is a massive hurdle in itself, sport can be a rewarding thing not only for medal winners but to all those who take part, the team spirit and the friendships are made on and off the field.

Looking at these walls the achievements are many, not forgetting the hard work and commitment to actually getting them there in the first place. The people who had the foresight to make this happen; including Kevan Baker OBE, fellow Sportsmen and Woman, not forgetting the families of those people who are no longer with us. The primary sponsors for the decorations are http://www.stewartslaw.comStewarts Law LLP, with http://www.spine-pinderfields.org.uk/SteppingStones Stepping Stones also contributing.

The key designer was Mr Ian Shackleton from http://www.srcreative.net Shackleton Rollin Graphic Designer’s, Wakefield. The Production Company and Fitters who produced and installed the Artwork were http://www.06-media.co.uk 06 Media Group, under the supervision of Mr Kim Haigh.

Sitting here in this dining room you cannot ignore the pride and sense of achievement that beams from the walls, the atmosphere created gives a warming sense of community and positivity within the Unit. This is greatly needed when frustration and loss are felt at times by all those starting out in their new lives, living with a spinal chord injury.

The future projects along the corridor walls will also illustrate other topics, including Poetry, Romance, Arts and Music all these are subjects which are discussed by patients and families among the Unit. Art is another great inspiration to admire and is a perfect tool to illustrate the emotions and to focus the mind, being able to create a piece regardless if its quality is a tremendous achievement and can go on to greater things. Giving a sense of purpose and self worth to those who are not able to pursue a sport like myself.


Further along the corridor the walls will illustrate the sense of achievement to reach this far and nearer the exit doors the sense of freedom as you start your own journey into the big wide world, living with a Spinal Chord Injury. Never forgetting, you now belong to an ever increasing family of people who are never far away, when guidance and help are needed. All of this has only been made possible by the dedicated Team of Professionals who’s vocation is to care for each and everyone who passes through the Spinal Unit, while giving support and occupational therapy to cope with their new lives.

It is an honour and a privilege to be associated with the Spinal Unit, it is a trail blazer within the National Health Service and a good example to other Hospitals and Spinal Units that having a true dedicated Team involved can offer a sense of care and community to the patients.


J. Clayton


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