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"Seven Families" saves the day!

Paul Pickford, 44, from Bolton, was fit and healthy and ran a car dealership until he suffered a brainstem stroke while at work two years ago. He is now paralysed and cared for by his wife, Vicky, 39. He can no longer work and has to undergo daily therapies.

"In November 2012, I was taken to hospital where, for a variety of care-related reasons, I spent 14 months as an in-patient," says Paul. I was discharged in January 2014 paralysed from the neck down, nil by mouth and unable to speak."

Paul is now only able to communicate via his Tobii i-12 eye-gaze computer which speaks whatever he types.

"There has been progress with my therapy, and I am slowly regaining movement," he says, "but due to the slow speed of my recovery, I had to resign from my job. I would love to be in a position where a return to employment is possible, as I have always been a workaholic and not working is a major frustration."

While things have been tough for Paul, he has just received the encouraging news that he has been chosen as one of the subjects of a new charity-led campaign called Seven Families.

Backed by Disability Rights and several insurers, this is aimed at raising public awareness of the financial and emotional impact of long-term illness or disability.

The campaign is working to highlight the importance of income protection insurance by providing 12 months of financial support to seven families where the breadwinner is unable to work through ill health or accident. Paul is getting £2,000 per month.

"The money Vicky and I receive from Seven Families is a godsend and will be a big boost to our household income," says Paul. "It will also help us to pay for rehabilitation equipment we couldn't otherwise afford."

"In addition, we are benefiting from having access to experts who can offer advice on returning to work. I have not been affected cognitively, so if I cannot return to my previous employer, the plan is to start some sort of business. That said, it would have to be something that can be controlled mainly via a computer."

Vicky gave up work when Paul had his stroke, but hopes to go back once he starts working again.

She adds: "People need to realise that your life can change in the blink of an eye and that your world can come crashing down. You need to be prepared."


The campaign is providing a tax-free monthly income for one year to seven families based in different parts of the country where the main breadwinner has been forced out of work by an accident or illness. The people involved are experiencing the impact of a range of different health conditions and injuries.

Families also get access to financial advice, as well as independent living, rehabilitation and counselling services.

"The campaign aims to highlight the need for people to plan financially in case they become too ill to earn a salary and provide for themselves and their family," says Peter Le Beau, spokesperson for Seven Families.

He is also keen to demonstrate that by providing rehabilitation at the same time, people can be helped back into employment.

Liz Sayce from Disability Rights, adds: "We want to see the difference it can make to get fast, effective support if you became disabled or developed a serious health condition, so you can get your life on track."

This campaign serves as a timely reminder to all of us to ask ourselves what would happen if we were struck by illness or injury, and how long we would be able to get by for. Here we look at why it is so essential to have financial plans in place so you can still provide for both you and your family.


It is estimated that 2.2 million people of working age in the UK, will be off work for at least six months at any one time through sickness and disability. Despite this, few people have income protection in place.

According to figures, only 3 million have taken out cover that pays out if you are unable to work, meaning the rest would have to fall back on savings or the State.

In fact, figures from protection trade body, GRiD, show more than two in five (41 per cent) of employees would have to rely on their savings to preserve their lifestyle if they could not work due to illness or injury.

Some have been put off from buying income protection insurance because they confuse it with Payment Protection Insurance (PPI). This much-maligned cover has been repeatedly criticised for being over-priced, riddled with exclusions, and routinely mis-sold.

By contrast, income protection is a vital form of cover. "If you work, then income protection is the first protection product most people should consider because your income pays for everything else," says Tom Baigrie from adviser LifeSearch.

Income protection pays a regular sum if you have a long-term illness or disability, and typically pays out 60 to 80 per cent of the income you were earning before getting ill and leaving work. This is paid either until you get better and go back to work, or until you retire. Some policies cover for a shorter fixed term of one to five years.

Crucially, policies do not come with many, if any, of the standard exclusions associated with PPI. But note that there is a deferred period with income protection during which you will not be eligible for a payout. This can range from a few weeks to a year.


Some people are put off by the price of income protection, but it doesn't have to cost the earth.

According to LifeSearch, if a 40-year-old non-smoker wanted to insure £2,000 per month until he or she reached 60, with a three-month deferred period, cover would cost from £20.60 per month with Friends Life. This is for a short-term policy (a two-year payment period).

In the same scenario, a full-term policy would cost from £41.40 per month with PruProtect.

As well as taking out an income protection policy direct from an insurance firm, cover may be offered via your employer, so be sure to check your workplace benefits too. However be aware that unlike individual income protection policies, payments from workplace policies are taxable.

For more information on the campaign, go to:

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