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Trading & Trousering

June 21, 2017

Monday 26th June sees the start of the next 7 Days of Action campaign. The title of this campaign is “A Trade in People”. The writers have brilliantly delivered the evidence of something our instinct has long told us – that our learning disabled family members are extremely profitable cash cows in a care industry that has become more and more privatised and where our children are seen as only having a value when it comes to their bottom line profits. I’m not going to give away anything else about the material that will be published next week but when terms like “importers” and “exporters” are now commonplace in social care when deciding where someone should live, you know we’ve got the bottom of a stinking cesspit of a barrel.

The night before last I didn’t sleep at all. Partly the heat: partly my unease about Danny Tozer’s death. By the time the clock hit 3.30am I decided to give up on sleep and got up. I had to be somewhere at 9am and didn’t want to oversleep.

I found myself watching the Brian Blessed episode of Who Do You Think You Are. (If you can find it on iPlayer or YouTube, I really recommend it. The twist in the final five minutes will have you cheering and howling like a baby).

Blessed started his search by focusing on his great grandfather X3, Barnabus. In the early 1800s, he was a successful book binder and stationer and had a shop, just off the Strand in London. The family (by now with 4 children) moved to Portsmouth and for a year continued to thrive. Then the Napoleonic War ended and Barnabus’s career nose dived. Within a year, his status had gone from “bookbinder” to “pauper”. Then in 1822, within six months of each other, Barnabus and his wife died. They left 4 children: a 14 year old daughter classified on the workhouse records as “an idiot”, 2 sons aged 8 and 6 and a 20 month old baby. Within three days of their father dying, all four children were moved on a cart from Portsmouth back to London and into the workhouse at St Pancras. When Blessed asked the geneologist why they were moved so quickly, the reply was:

“If the children were seen as a financial burden to the Parish, the State would have been keen to move them elsewhere”.

Within a week of the move, the 14 year old disabled daughter and the baby had also died.

Just short of 200 years, has there been much change?

People aren’t taken to ATUs on a cart but the framing a learning disabled person as a thing to be exported is as strong as ever.

What next week’s campaign will present in horrific technicolour is that whilst the State (the exporter) still wants to rid itself of its financial burden, unlike 1822, there is now a huge army of importers ready to trouser millions from our families.

Also, unlike 1822, the exporters and importers don’t wait for a tragedy before they start to conduct their deals. Nowadays, they are hovering, waiting to exploit a situation that could be dealt with in the person’s home. A care provider pulling out of their contract, a father going down with flu, the person having a developmental crisis is worth millions to the money grabbing importer.

I discovered that the derivation of the saying “going to hell in a hand cart” came from the practice of moving people to the workhouse on the back of a cart.

What would the 2017 equivalent be?


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  1. customers, not cattle

  2. Yes, a previous psychiatrist we had had a stake in a big residential care company. He had seemed very keen on residential care and people being separate from family, and didn’t register any emotions we were going through, never referred to emotional needs or even spoke with respect.
    He was a total shock to me. I discovered his commercial interests later.

    Other psychiatrists I met were better. One in another city reassured me that we were absolutely critical in our son’s life, and two psychiatrists elsewhere gave me emotional support and encouraged me to never give up.

    And waiting and ‘hovering’ over a potential victim is much easier, because there’s so little expertise in supporting those who collapse as there’s often no therapy or following person-centred plans which are mentioned more than followed. Only if family are involved properly, not ‘consulted’ will there be any healing. Everyone knows.

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