Nic Paton meets the people living through the long-term illness initiative


1)      The Clarkes (part of Seven Families since November 2014)

Tim and Tracey Clarke live on a houseboat after financial difficulties forced them to sell their family home. Former pharmacist Tracey has just 2% vision and has received £600 a month under the project. This allowed her to invest in, among other support, a laptop with specialist software to allow her to pursue her dream of copywriting.

What she says: “I find it quite hard to be helped, and Tim will vouch for that; I want to be independent, and I’m determined to carry on that way. I don’t want to be dependent.”

2)      The Pickfords (since November 2014)

Self-confessed workaholic Paul Pickford’s life was turned upside down when in November 2012 and at the age of 42 he suffered a brain stem stroke that left him paralysed, speech impaired and cared for by wife Vicky. The Seven Families support has been used to help with his rehabilitation, as well as giving him access to advisers on return-to-work options.

What Vicky says: “Paul’s getting to the point where he can stand with his physio; she’s getting him up on her own and he’s doing the majority of it.”

3)      The Pinders (since November 2014)

Daniel Pinder was born deaf and diagnosed with epilepsy while young, neither of which stopped him from working as a rehabilitation officer. In 2009, however, he was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. The support has allowed him to pay for hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBO), which has increased oxygen levels, improved his feeling and mobility and giving him a better quality of life.

What Daniel says: “The physiotherapy and the HBO energised me, so I decided to buy myself a step machine. The step machine allows me to do the extra exercises at home.”

4)      The Thornleys (since March 2015)

In 2013 police officer Nikki Thornley was paralysed in a motorcycle accident that left her unable to work. The support from Seven Families, among other things, gave the family reassurance when in October husband Phil was faced with redundancy from his job in the oil industry.

What Phil says: “Especially for somebody in my predicament, it’s given us the extra safety net for paying bills and all the other expenses that home life brings.”

5)      The Snells (since March 2015)

Until the summer of 2014 Graeme Snell worked full time as an advanced health and wellbeing practitioner. But in the July of that year he had a double stroke.

What Graeme says: “With being off work, financial support is always a worry; so having some money to help me on my rehabilitation through the project, will be fabulous. It’ll allow me basically to take a bit of time out to get back to where I want to be, but not rush it, not get too pressurised.”

6)      The Norberts (since June 2015)

Paul Norbert was diagnosed with bipolar disorder in his mid-20s. Now 44, Paul held down a job as a driving instructor for many years but eventually succumbed to his diagnosis.

What Paul says: “It’s going to help me with the funding to continue to pay for my training as a driving instructor and also it’s going to provide me with funding so that I can actually go away and get out of London, because I find it can be a bit suffocating and overwhelming.”

7)      The Knights family (since August 2015)

Melanie Knights, 40, lost her job as a midwife in 2014 because of prolonged absence from work, primarily caused by arthritis through the degenerative disease Ehlers-Danlos syndrome.

What husband Jason says: “It turns your life upside down completely: we’ve had our tears, we’ve been through our ups and downs and we’ve now got to get on with it.”

For more information on the initiative, CLICK HERE