Seven Families campaign aims to raise awareness of financial damage caused by illness or disability

The campaign is handing financial help to seven families for a year, along with support and advice in how to get their careers back on track
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The Independent Online

Daniel Pinder is celebrating his 50th birthday this month. He's arranged a special family dinner to celebrate as two of his daughters' birthdays fall in November as well.

But he won't be splashing out a fortune as he's been out of work since March. That was just the latest blow in a life beset by challenges.

You see he was born deaf in November 1964 and then, while still young, he was diagnosed with epilepsy. Neither stopped him from getting a degree, starting a family and working successfully as a rehabilitation officer, helping people with limited visibility.

"One thing I really love doing is helping others," he says. "Even though I have difficulties myself."

But in 2009 things took a turn for the worse for Daniel, when he was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. "In fact it was a year I really don't want to repeat."

At around the same time his marriage hit the rocks and his brother died of cancer.

Despite being diagnosed with MS, he carried on working as long as he could until, eventually, he had to give it up this year. "I just wasn't able to perform to the level that I had done so for the previous 15 years," he admits.

With no job and no prospects, things were starting to look a bit grim. "Technically I retire in 15 years' time and I don't want to be doing nothing until I retire," Daniel says.

But this month he got some encouraging news. He's been chosen as one of the subjects of a big new campaign launched this week to raise awareness of the financial and emotional damage that long-term illness or disability can do to a family and its finances.

Called "Seven Families", it is backed by the charity Disability Rights UK and many of Britain's leading insurance companies, and aims to highlight income protection insurance. Very few have these policies. Around 2 million have cover through work while another million have taken out their own policy.

The campaign is handing financial help to seven families for a year. In Daniel's case he's being given £700 a month, which will help him pay for improvements to his home to help him cope with his conditions. Campaign spokesman Peter Le Beau says: "We want to highlight the need for people to plan financially in case they become too ill to earn."

But, importantly, Seven Families will also be helping Daniel with support and advice to help get his career back on track. "It will give me ideas and confidence, which is crucial when you're changing jobs."

Liz Sayce, chief executive of Disability Rights UK, said: "We're involved in the project because we want to test the difference it can make to get fast, effective support when you unexpectedly become disabled or develop a serious health condition, so you can get your life on track.

"Our campaign is for improved social security and independent living rights, for everyone – not the two-tier system we have at present."

Daniel says: "For me the campaign is about showing others that, with the right support, you can get there."

To find out more about the campaign, go to

Insurance lifeline: 'Cover is affordable'

Louise Colley, a director at the insurer Aviva, says the right cover is affordable and can make a huge difference to families hit by an accident or a medical disaster.

People should ask themselves what would happen to financial dependants if the worst were to happen, whatever it may be.

"How long would you or your family be able to get by? How long do you think you could survive, paying the mortgage or rent with no income coming in? The average family can only get by for around two months in the event of a financial shock."

Ms Colley points out that one in three of us could get cancer. But most of us have what she calls "optimism bias", which means we think it won't happen to us.

"I meet with many families who have had to claim and they all say the insurance payout has made a huge difference. Without protection insurance, people can be put into financial difficulty."

Many people are put off by the cost of cover but Ms Colley says: "People think protection cover is very expensive, but it's not. Policies can start from just a tenner a week."

To find out more about different kinds of protection cover, watch a video of our interview with Ms Colley at

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