Char­ity walk costs fam­ily their dis­abil­ity mo­bil­ity car

The Oban Times - - News - EL­LIE FORBES eforbes@oban­

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. Pic­ture Iain Fer­gu­son The Write Im­age.

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