Charity walk costs family their disability mobility car
THE completion of a charity walk which raised more than £2,000 has resulted in a Kinlochleven family losing their mobility car.
For the past five years 13-yearold Mark McDuff, who has Down’s syndrome, has put on a charity walk called Mark’s Gangnam Style Walk, named after one of his favourite songs, to raise money for Down’s Syndrome Scotland.
Mark, along with a group of his friends and family, travel from Kinlochleven to Fort William by minibus and then make the 12.8-mile journey home on foot.
This year’s walk, which took place on Saturday May 27, saw 32 people take part, raising more than £2,000 for the charity.
But Mark’s mum, Kay McDuff, has told the Lochaber
Times the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) has taken the family’s mobility car away as a result of Mark being able to complete the walk for the past five years.
Ms McDuff had a mobility Ford Focus for six years. But when she went to renew the car last year, she was shocked to be told the car was going to be taken away because of Mark’s ability to walk a certain distance.
Ms McDuff said: ‘They [ DWP] said that because Mark can walk a certain amount of miles, once a year, we don’t need a mobility car.
‘I have never hidden the fact Mark has done that walk. And there is nothing to say he couldn’t have done that walk if he had one leg.
‘It is a real struggle for him. In the pictures after we did it last year you can see Mark just sitting on a rock with his head in his hands – he was exhausted. But he pushed himself to do it because it’s for charity, and all of his friends and family are there, doing it to support him.’
Ms McDuff described the grilling she was given when she tried to renew the car.
She said: ‘I had to answer questions like how many times does he get up during the night, and how long is he in the toilet for and that is stuff you can’t always remember – it’s just ridiculous.’
Ms McDuff lodged an appeal with an independent tribunal which has upheld the DWP’s decision. Disabilility Living Allowance payments for higher rate mobility, where a person qualifies for a mobility car, are reserved for people who are ‘ virtually unable to walk’. A DWP spokesperson told the
Lochaber Times: ‘Decisions are made after consideration of all the information provided by the claimant – including any supporting evidence from their GP or medical specialist – and an independent appeal has upheld our decision in this case.’
Ms McDuff added: ‘When I got the letter saying they didn’t think I needed the mobility car for Mark, people in the village started writing letters complaining, because lots of them have known Mark all his life, and seen him struggle, and they are worried about him.
‘He could walk over to the shop, but he would really struggle with it and he would get tired. Where it would only take me a few minutes to walk, it would take him much longer.
‘It’s not even just about the car. We haven’t had it for a year now so we are getting used to it, but it’s the principle of it. Thankfully we have a good support system of friends and family who help out, and give Mark a lift to school.
‘I have a great sister-in-law who takes time off work to take us places as due to his health issues Mark struggles to use public transport.’
The group walked from Fort William to Kinlochleven to raise money for Down’s Syndrome Scotland.