Welcome to 5 Quid for Life: A Mental Health Safety Net
WELCOME to 5 Quid for Life: A Mental Health Safety Net — and thank you!
5 Quid for Life started as an idea to save one life: Ali Quant. Ali has mental health problems caused largely by a lifetime of horrific abuse. As a result of those problems she is unable to work and depends upon state benefits, including Disability Living Allowance, to survive. Faced by the changes to the benefits system being imposed by the Coalition Government’s review of DLA, she found herself in a state of utter despair and posted on her blog about her contingency plan if forced to go through a reassessment of her entitlement: suicide.
So I came up with an alternative plan and launched an online campaign called ‘200 People to Save Ali Quant‘. My plan was simple: if I could find 200 people who would commit to giving £5 per month, that would provide a safety net for Ali worth £12,000 per year. She might be kicked out by the benefits system but, if my plan came together, she’d have somewhere to land.
A lesser person might have simply heaved a sigh of relief and jumped for the safety net. Not Ali: she responded with a challenge. “Think bigger,” she said, and pointed us towards the thousands of other people whose incomes, homes and lives are being threatened by the DLA review:
I’m just one person and there are many many more in my situation, so I asked Phil and everyone else involved at that point if they would mind opening it up to help others too. The ways in which this group could help people are enormous – from paying for an advocate to attend a medical assessment or tribunal to the initial idea of providing an income for someone whose benefits have been cut off, it really could make a real difference and ultimately save lives.
And so 5 Quid for Life was born. Our aim: to encourage people to give, ideally to commit to regular giving of £5 per month, to enable us to offer a life-saving safety net beneath the benefits system.
5 Quid for Life, because we think life is worth far more than five quid, but if enough of us stand together with our fivers ready, a network of friends standing in solidarity with those battling mental illness, then lives can and will be saved: A Mental Health Safety Net.
One suicide as a result of the changes being imposed upon the benefits system is one suicide too many. We say: let there be life, not death. We say: let’s support those who are mentally ill, not pull the rug from under their feet.
But who are we? Watch this space and over the next week or so I hope to introduce the core team who have been working with me behind the scenes to launch 5 Quid for Life.
There’s still a lot of work to do: drawing up a formal constitution that will satisfy the requirements of the Charities Commission and opening a bank account so that we can begin to receive donations, to name but two.
But that work is well underway, thanks entirely to those who have expressed their support for Ali’s bigger vision. People who were complete strangers just a few weeks ago have become friends and colleagues in pursuit of something none of us would have imagined possible that short while ago.
Friends and colleagues, I salute you: thank you.