Seven Families: first family is announced as the push for more people to buy income protection starts with a family hit by disaster because of sudden illness
Tim and Tracey Clarke and Oakley, Tracey’s Labrador Guide Dog, live on a houseboat after financial difficulties forced the sale of the family home have today been named as the first family to benefit from the Seven Families project.
Tracey, who retains just 2% of her eyesight and will receive £600pm from the campaign, said: “We sold our house and bought a narrowboat, which is a much cheaper and more relaxed way of living. It is just about manageable on benefits but this additional money from 7 Families could be life changing.”
Tracey is thrilled that she has been chosen as one of the ‘Seven Families’. She says: ‘I wish I had taken out cover when I was working, but I didn’t know it was available.
“Although I never had any functional vision in my left eye from birth it had never caused a problem. I drove a car, held an advanced driving licence, had a career as a Pharmacy Technician and did a lot of artwork. Then in 2011 my eyesight began to shut down completely for no diagnosed reason.
Tracey continued: “There is no way that we could have afforded to keep the house and we were facing bankruptcy, but the 7 Families project is going to make an immense difference to us. Amongst other things I will be able to buy a laptop with the necessary specialist software that will allow me to work again. I then hope to allow me to work again. I then hope to begin to build a path into writing and publishing, which I can do from the boat.”
With a serious illness or an accident, no matter how good the benefits system is, financial hardship is only part of the problem. Becoming ill is one thing, but when finances are tight, other problems follow. You argue over money and how to pay the next bill. You feel isolated and don’t know where to turn. All this makes recovering from a serious illness or accident at the least extra difficult to impossible.
Even though Tracey and her husband could have bought income protection insurance but didn’t, their case highlights the real financial consequences when you lose an income. Tracey seems a proud lady and determined her problems won’t stop her and her husband Tim from trying to enjoy their life.
The extra £600 a month they are going to receive over the next twelve months will make a major difference from struggling to just get by, to be able to benefit from the extra support the money will bring.
Liz Sayce, chief executive of Disability Rights UK, says she wants the campaign to demonstrate the importance of giving disabled people practical support.
‘When people suffer a disability, the medical support available is usually excellent,’ she says. ‘But, more often than not, what is lacking is the assistance needed for these people to get back to work after their disability.
‘If this campaign can bring to people’s attention how positive rehabilitation and counselling can be it will have been worthwhile.’
The charity will make such assistance available to the seven families via nursing and medical help from specialists Red Arc and Best Doctors.
Helen White, head of protection insurance at the ABI, says: ‘Such a statement could encourage workers to purchase sufficient insurance to survive financially if they suffered a major illness and subsequent loss of job.’