Mobility campaigner takes protest to Westminster

North Londoner puts case against government policy


Multiple sclerosis sufferer John Stillitz helped to organise a Westminster demonstration against the government’s Personal Independence Payment (Pip), which he says has impacted negatively on the lives of many people.

The 67-year-old North Londoner explained that under Pip, “if people with disabilities can walk more than 20 metres, they are not entitled to the increased mobility allowance, meaning they are not given access to a mobility car. As a result of Pip and the 20-metre rule, many are ‘chained’ to their homes.”

In Mr Stillitz’s own case, “someone came to my house and asked if I could walk 20 metres. I said I could but it would take me two days and I would be lying on the pavement in pain. The next thing I knew, I had my mobility badge taken away.”

This had affected him hugely as having a car that was basically free had enabled him to enjoy “more of a normal life”. In addition, “the car had satellite navigation, which helped me because my memory is now so bad”.

On the day of the demo, which was supported by Tory MP Matthew Offord, Mr Stillitz also appeared on the BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire Show.

He was diagnosed with MS ten years ago, having, he said, experienced symptoms that went undiagnosed for four decades. He is also having to come to terms with the recent revelation that his 39-year-old son also has MS. “His diagnosis has knocked us all for six.”

The Hampstead Synagogue member devotes much of his time to helping others. “I run support groups for people with MS and work with the MS Society.

“One of the support groups I go to is Jems, run by Jewish Care. It’s the most amazing group I’ve known.”

His own rabbi, Michael Harris, “phones me every few months to make sure I’m still around. He’s so sweet and I feel so humbled. I am so lucky. I have a pretty good life and I have wonderful people around me.”

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