You Scratch My Back
An interesting article appeared in the Huffington Post yesterday. It was written by the Campaigns Director of Change.orgUK, the online petition site. The piece presented itself as a celebration of a number of learning disability cases. They were ATU cases were the people have managed to escape their confinement to a better life. Real people, who have been through hell. But really, the piece was a massive plug for Change.orgUK, in each of the cases, claiming how the online petition played a major part in the happy outcome.
What the Campaigns Director couldn’t have foreseen was that the timing of this PR stunt was rather unfortunate. One of their cases they used was Stephen, a young man with autism who recently moved from a long stay in St Andrews hospital to a similar unit in Clacton. Or as the article put it, “Stephen moved to a better hospital”. On the same day, Stephen’s family revealed that Stephen had just been assaulted for the third time in two weeks in this ” better hospital” and that a police and safeguarding investigation is under way. Sadly, Stephen’s hell is far from over.
Bizarrely, the article also referenced Mencap. Talking about the situation of learning disabled people in ATUs, the article states: ” Former Care Minister, Norman Lamb picked up the cause with Mencap & a Green Paper is being put to Parliament, to propose reforms that could benefit scores more families”. (Presumably like Stephens’).
Is that how it was? Did Mencap have such a big part to play in the No Rights Ignored paper? Or is this Mencap shamelessly boosting their profile again?
I’m sorry. I’m probably being unfair. I’m just struck by the regularity in which Mencap and the CBF make statements, claiming to have played a key part in a successful outcome for a learning disabled person. My experience of their input back in 2010 was very different. Well, at least until the High Court judgement, when they had plenty to say on the matter.
But perhaps that how the game works and we just have to go along with it. In 2011, I was approached by the company Steven’s IMCA worked for. They asked me if I was willing to tell Steven’s story to camera for a promotional film they were doing. I was a bit uneasy but as Cilla the IMCA is one of the people I credit with saving Steven’s life, I was happy to oblige. It was only later on that I realized that Cilla had changed jobs and I was doing a film for her new employers. They hadn’t been involved in our case at all. I’m not knocking Cilla. I’m not sure she even knew about the film! The new company had jumped on her “success” and were using her and me to up their profile. It was all very embarrassing.
I guess that this “you scratch my back” approach is the way many charities do business. There’s probably nothing wrong in it. They’re just cottoning on to the way other businesses operate. It’s bound to create an emotional reaction because it is the very human stories of disabled people that they are using.
Personally, I’d prefer a little more humility.
N.B. Here is the link to the original article – http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/kat-sladden/change-org-online-petitions_b_7637452.html
From → Social Care