Eyes and Ears
Today’s Seven Days of Action featured two dudes, Eden and Jack. Two quite different guys whose commonality is they’ve both been let down by the services that exist to support them.
Eden’s story prompted the same furious, despairing response from many of the people who read it – “How the hell can it be justified that he’s been detained in an ATU for 8 years?” 8 years. One more time. 8 years. And no release date in sight. Eden hasn’t committed any crime.
Jack was released from an ATU in June and after three failed placements in as many weeks and the provider pulling out of the contract with less than 24 hours notice, Jack has been living back at home for 10 weeks with absolutely no support at all. Since the blog was written, the ex provider have decided to press for criminal charges against Jack for an incident whilst he was in their (non) care. And no sign of a new support provider anywhere.
Throughout the day, I’ve been getting riled by the odd professional comment and the trotting out of tired, patronising phrases. “Complex needs”. ” Challenging Behaviour”. Bullshit. Eden doesn’t have complex needs. His two big wishes are to have a cup of tea with his mum and to take his dog for a walk in the park. Jack doesn’t have challenging behaviour. But if the support team enable him to buy eight cans of cider (he doesn’t drink) and get pissed, then he might just kick one of the support worker’s car.
My nagging thought all day is how much the professionals who work with Eden and Jack must detatch themselves from any kind of human relatedness. I’m not talking sentimental. I’m talking about placing Eden and Jack in a box that has no recognition of their humanity. No recognition that the professional and Eden share the same human space. Nobody can possibly justify locking an innocent man up for 8 years.
I have two questions for the professional readers of this blog. Here is Jack:
1. As you read his story, what do you hear?
2. As you look at his face, what do you see?
I’d love to know.