On 30 June 2015, the government closes the Independent Living Fund (ILF), a specialist fund which has helped thousands of disabled people to live independent lives since it was founded in 1988. Graeae patron Mat Fraser and actor/musician John Kelly discuss, in an exclusive interview, the impact of this closure on the lives of thousands of people.
As of 30 June 2015, the budget that has made up this fund will be handed over to local authorities to manage.
This interview is the second in the series of ‘In conversation with…’ interviews released by Graeae.
Watch the video above. Includes captioning and audio description.
As part of the interview, John Kelly says:
‘The ILF was about choice and control of our lives, which is a basic human right. It was a mechanism, but actually what it represented was a key set of principals and that’s what I’m fighting for. Now, I’m focusing on my work with organisations like Graeae that support the right to equality and independence.’
Graeae patron Mat Fraser says:
‘The closure of the ILF represents a concerted effort to shut down the independence of my actor, artist and creative disabled friends, potentially ending their careers in theatre, the arts and community social education. It is nothing short of tragedy. This blatant attack on disabled people is woefully misguided but moreover it is so damaging to the great work that has been done by this kind of fund.’
Jenny Sealey, MBE highlights what this means for Graeae:
‘Graeae is the UK’s flagship professional disabled led theatre company and has a growing international reputation. The very real danger is soon we will no longer be able to commit to our mission of placing Deaf and disabled people centre-stage.’
‘As Artistic Director of Graeae, a company fuelled by access, inclusivity and human rights, I am truly sickened by the decision to close the ILF. The UK signed the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in 2009 but this closure feels like we are going back to Victorian times. We have to join together to fight such draconian measure. We are NOT ever going to let this lie. We remain in battle mode as independence is a right not a privilege.’