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You Scratch My Back

June 25, 2015

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 –


From → Social Care

  1. Pauline Thomas permalink

    ‘They’re just cottoning on to the way other businesses operate’. Mark I thought these people were charities. Are they businesses too?

  2. petitions were only one part of all those campaigns, although an important part — it allowed people to register their support and give a supportive message, and allowed the families to release updates. Claire Dyer’s campaign had the support of local media, some national media exposure, a Facebook and Twitter campaign, and blogs including mine. Josh Wills, similarly (although I didn’t write much about Josh, though I’m sure other bloggers did). There were others working behind the scenes, including professionals who knew the affected people, advocates and lawyers. The petitions were important, but not the only part of the campaign to get these people home.

  3. This support, and media exposure, and, therefore the little that has been effected, by these petitions, has only been allowed, because it fits in with the governments agenda via Norman Lamb.

    That agenda, is to remove all autistics, wherever possible, into independent living provision nearer their families, where similar amounts, some 3,500 per week, can be claimed by private corporations for their ‘care’ for life.

    But families will still have no powers over the care provision of their children which appears except for a light touch from CQC, effectively unaccountable, and largely unseen.

    This government policy,removes money from private NHS, to LA control, for their commissioned profit making independent living providers, enforced under the Mental Capacity Act.

    The only problem is, that we have thousands of autistics, some have been holed up, pumped with antipsychotics for nearly 20 years, all illegally, as not treatment, so will be in a terrible state, and it is not known how the independent living industry can cope with them.

    This policy, will not help parents, gain any control over access to, protection of, and help for, their children, as they have no rights under the MCA, and the Courts of Protection, are so clogged up, that they can do little but rubber stamp LA applications. And OS act for the children and are on the side of state encagement.

    Independent living provision is run for maximum profit, and there can be little individualised care see Thomas Rawnsley’s fate.

    And family have limited or no control over corporate provision and the care of their children for life, unlike the MHA there appears little escape from state control

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