The East Kent Group met on Saturday for an open meeting for people living with MND, their carers, friends, family and volunteers.
We had 23 attend in all and we had the honour of a visit from Councillor Colin Spooner The Sheriff of Canterbury, who addressed the meeting. Huge thanks to Colin for making the time in his busy schedule to visit with us.
Other contributors were Chairman Clive Hudson who spoke briefly about fund raising plans; Judy Keay who spoke about our Association Visitors; Lynn Hudson who spoke about our monthly Tea by the Sea meetings and finally Katy Styles who updated us on current campaigning activity.
We enjoyed sandwiches and cake prepared by the committee members and lots of warm hearted and friendly conversation.
Many MND patients, families and friends plan to meet at 11 AM on Wednesday 28th February in Parliament Square directly opposite the Houses of Parliament.
The objective of the meeting is to get the Department of Work and Pensions to cease reassessment of patients with MND for Employment Support Allowance (ESA).
This is an objective every member of our association desires but as ever there are many ways to go about securing our objectives. It is useful to read Sally Light’s blog on the way the association is approaching the objective. Follow this link to read Sally’s blog
Background to MND Patients dispute with the Department of Work and Pensions Motor Neurone Disease (MND) Is a progressive and terminal neurological condition in 100% of cases. It takes away an individual’s ability to use their hands, arms and legs, to talk and swallow and ultimately to breathe. 50% of those diagnosed die within two years of diagnosis, 33% within 1 year.
Employment Support Allowance (ESA) is a benefit to replace the income you lose when a disability prevents you from working. Given that recent research showed that life for people living with MND costs on average an extra £12,000 per year (and that is before loss of earnings), ESA is a vital income supplement.
To receive ESA people must undertake a “work capability assessment”. This is not linked to a diagnosis. However, over 90% of people living with MND who undertake the “work capability assessment” are deemed not fit to work and go onto the higher rate.
People receiving ESA are subject to reassessment. But MND NEVER improves. It only gets worse.
So there is absolutely no need to reassess. The process causes unnecessary stress to individuals and their families who should be focusing on the days they have left rather than fighting the system. In addition, it is a waste of public money.
From October 2017 NEW claimants will not have to be reassessed once they are on the higher rate.
However, an estimated 600 people living with MND already on higher rate ESA remain subject to reassessment. This is CRUEL and UNJUST and the practice must be ended.
@MNDPatients are angry at.…
1) the TIME this has taken to be resolved . Given the nature of the disease many will have passed away since a October 2016 promise by the then Minister for Disabled People, Penny Mordaunt MP.
2) the latest Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) “excuse” for the delay. They blame it on “complex operational and systems issues” for which, clearly, people living with a terminal and progressive condition cannot be to blame. The burden MUST be taken away from MND patients.
Our RECOMMENDATION is that a “work around” is found without delay. Rather than complete yet another long form, why can’t affected people simply contact their DWP office, tell them they have a diagnosis of MND and supply contact details for a health professional – GP, neurologist, specialist nurses etc to confirm their diagnosis. The estimated 600 is by no means a huge number in the universe of ESA claimants. The stress on MND patients will be immediately reduced and civil servants need not trawl through 600 long forms but simply make brief telephone calls or send short emails to marry up the work capability assessment with the diagnosis.
For similar reasons, we are also demanding that similar exemption criteria are applied to reassessments for Personal Independence Payments (PIP)/Disability Living Allowance (DLA) for those with terminal, progressive diseases including MND.
Carers were asked to contribute to a call for evidence for a Carers Strategy in early 2016. Many carers and carers organisations filled in the questionnaire and wrote reports on the issues for carers and how to solve them.
Everyone expected the Carers Strategy to be published at the end of 2016. We waited throughout 2017. An election happened. The Minister changed. We continued to wait. By October I decided that I needed to do something to get government talking about the Carers Strategy again. I was quoted twice in parliament as being very annoyed that carers were still waiting and our voices were unheard. The Minister then made an announcement in November that there would be an Action Plan. That Action Plan was due in January. It never came. We were on our next Minister.
I created a petition on the Government’s own petition website to get Government to publish the Carers Strategy. I even took an online course with UK Parliament to learn how to do this. My petition went up on the website on 22nd January. It runs for 6 months. To get a response from Government I need 10,000 signatures. To get a debate I need 100,000 signatures. But no matter how many signatures this petition attracts it has got people discussing carers and the lack of a properly thought through strategy.
So far Kent Carer Support Organisations have supported this petition through their networks, as have many other carers organisations throughout the country.
MPs have shared the petition on social media and there have been messages of support and encouragement.
Why did I do this? As someone who meets many carers it struck me how few knew their rights, few identified themselves as carers and few were claiming benefits they were entitled to. A proper strategy should address these issues.
Tom Harling is running the London Landmarks Half Marathon. Tom is hoping to raise £1,000 to be shared between the Motor Neurone Disease Association (MNDA) in East Kent and my friend John Rawlins who is suffering with it. The funds raised will be shared 50/50.
In Tom’s words
“A good friend of mine, John Rawlins was diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease (MND)and this lead to him having to give up work around a year ago now. The disease is similar to the ‘Stephen Hawking thing’ and there is no cure.
John worked all his life on building sites as a digger driver from Westgate, and been a good friend of mine for the best part of 10 years. I am running the London Landmarks Half Marathon on 25th March 2018 and am looking for sponsorship through JustGiving.com/crowdfunding/tomharlinghalfmarathon to raise money to split 50/50 between the MNDA East Kent charity and John to help pay for adaptions to his home which he now needs to improve mobility and accessibility.
John , and the MNDA are aware that I’m doing this. John is an absolute legend of a man who despite all this has managed to keep his sense of humour and comical outlook on life.
Thanks for taking the time to read this. And thanks in advance for your donations and support.”
Some time ago, when I started to look around for some voluntary work I decided to become involved with MNDA. Initially I joined the committee in East Kent and then trained as an Association Visitor (AV)…starting in 2016. Talking to people I have met since becoming involved with MNDA East Kent I have been struck by the resilience and tenacity that many of these folks show…some are people living with the disease, others are relatives, carers or friends of theirs. A common factor shown by so many is that of supporting each other in the face of this vile and debilitating disease.
The camaraderie I have witnessed first hand is incredible, many form friendships…co-supporting each other and sharing ideas and treatment options. Some have set up fund raising initiatives, and I am aware that quite a number use the network of social media to keep in touch, some are happy to have an Association Visitor offering friendship and support, and some like to attend meetings…networking with others facing similar difficulties. It’s so rewarding to work together with these people and I really enjoy doing so.
One of the many challenges facing PwMND is the gradual reduction of their own physical abilities meaning that activities which were easy for them previously become difficult or indeed impossible. It means that travelling options are very restricted, they may no longer be able to drive, and public transport options may well be very limited. Many of the support activities in East Kent are centred around Canterbury or Ashford…. which means an almost impossible trek for many living in the rural or coastal areas of Kent, such as Thanet. Several voiced their disappointment at not being able to attend these meetings without supreme efforts by themselves and their carers.
Upon discussion about these difficulties with the MNDA East Kent committee we decided to offer for a trial period, of three months, a Thanet based support group, meeting once a month in the afternoon in a suitably placed venue, and one which offered many appropriate facilities.
Several options for a venue were explored. We decided on The Botany Bay Hotel in Kingsgate which is ideally situated for all of Thanet, with plenty of parking, access and facilities are excellent. The manager and staff are extremely helpful and willing to accommodate us. Our trial period starting in September 2017, on the last Wednesday of each month from 3pm until 5pm, and we call it Tea by the Sea!!
We contacted many people by telephone and email to invite them to come. We offer tea or coffee with cake or scones, and have been delighted at the response. Each meeting has been attended by PwMND, families and carers. These are small meetings, but so friendly, everyone getting to know each other, sharing experiences, frustrations and coping mechanisms in a spirit of camaraderie and friendship. The hotel has allowed us to use a small private function room for no extra charge, all we pay for is the tea and cake consumed. The first meeting was attended by eight people, subsequently the attendance varied from 16 down to four (the weather was typically coastal atrocious that day!!)
The trial period of three months ended in November, but by popular request was extended to include December and will now continue into 2018, on the last Wednesday of each month. The next dates are as follows:
Wed January 31st, Wed February 28th, Wed March 28th, Wed April 25th, Wed May 30th, Wed June 27th all between 3 and 5pm.
Please make a note of these dates. You can be sure of a warm welcome, and the refreshments are pretty good too!!
TREBLE WARDS’ AMERICAN SUPPER
(Disco & raffle in aid of MND association, Bring your own food & drink/alcohol)
SATURDAY FEBRUARY 24TH
TEMPLE EWELL VILLAGE HALL
Tickets £5, (buy in advance from Emma or Lorraine on Treble Ward, first come first served)
Note Treble Ward is a Ward at The Kent and Canterbury Hospital
We will be holding our second coastal marathon walk on Sunday May 20th 2018.
A 25 mile walk, will take place from Whitstable to Broadstairs via King George V Park, a 13 mile walk, from Minnis Bay to Broadstairs via King George V Park. A shorter walk of 5 miles, is also planned from Botany Bay Hotel, Kingsgate to Broadstairs via King George V Park.
There is an entrance fee of £10 which includes a tee shirt (collected on the day), training program, detailed plan of walk, and full insurance. Only registered walkers can walk and they must wear the tee shirt for insurance purposes.
Each walker is requested to find sponsorship to support people living with MND in East Kent. There is no obligation to raise sponsorship but all support is greatly appreciated.
If you intend to set up your own JustGiving page, we are happy for you to do so. Please select MNDA as your charity and then please mention MNDA East Kent in your story to ensure that funds you raise are used for people living with MND in East Kent. Once you have set up your JustGiving Page, please link it to our team at www.justgiving.com/teams/coastalwalk2018/join so we can keep track of the total funds we raise.
If you want to make a donation in support but not register please visit our Donations Page
Due to circumstances beyond the control of the organisers this event has been postponed and will now take place at another venue on a later date. As soon as we know the details we will publish the information.
On Saturday 11th November a team of 5 plan to ride 500 kilometres in Relays. The effort will begin at 8am and the team hope to complete 500K by 6 pm.
They are doing this to raise funds for the Motor Neurone Disease Association (MNDA) in memory of Bill Ashby who sadly died of MND. The funds raised will help support people living with MND in East Kent.