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The Keys

March 29, 2018

You wait months for a decent story about a set of keys and then two come along at once….

I read a post on social media from a parent whose son is due to be discharged from an ATU into a home of his own, just around the corner from his parents. The mother was unhappy because the LA and the provider company have both refused to let the family have a set of keys to the son’s house. Their argument, as usual, being “independence, independence, independence”.

Fair enough. It’s not okay for a family to think it’s okay just to walk into a learning disabled person’s house. The person is an adult and has a right who he/she invites into his property. It’s not the family home. When I left home, I don’t remember handing my keys back but whenever I visited Dad, I always rang the doorbell.

However, is there something buried away in this ruling that perpetuates the “not quite human” beliefs of services? Most people give a spare set of keys to someone they trust for a number of reasons. My sister has a set for both my flat and Steven’s. We might lock ourselves out. We might lose our keys (see second story). We might want someone to look out for our house if we’re away. We might want someone to access our house if there’s an emergency. Humans rely on other humans to do things like looking after keys but if you’re not quite human then human traits like love, duty, sharing don’t apply. It may seem a small example but human rights are found in the small places.

When I go to Steven’s I knock on the door. Except for Thursday’s when I let myself in. And every Thursday that I do it, I feel uncomfortable. I get to Steven’s about half an hour before he and the support workers get back from water aerobics so that I can get on and do the support workers wages without interruption. To be honest, the personal budget is a piece of piss these days but it still requires concentration. I need the time to do it without Steven instigating a conversation about Basil Fawlty’s cardigan whilst I’m trying to calculate the tax due for an additional three hour shift. A perfectly valid reason for letting myself in but one which Services would disapprove of.

And now a funny keys story..

When I get to Steven’s on Saturday for my weekend sleepover, the first thing I do is to go to my room and slip into something more comfortable. I leave my two sets of keys on my desk next to the computer and there they stay until I leave on Sunday evening.

Last Sunday, whilst getting dressed, I noticed that one set were missing. My flat keys were where I’d left them but Steven’s were missing. The previous evening Steven had been watching the 1994 Gladiators semi final on YouTube so it was a safe bet that he’d moved them. Obviously I asked him and although he can remember he brought a packet of blackcurrant Chewits in the shop at Ruislip Manor 22 years ago, he couldn’t remember what he’d done with the keys the night before. Me and the support worker spent two hours searching for them. We had all the cupboards out, went through the rubbish sack we’d put out yesterday, searched the front and back gardens in case he lobbed them out the window. Nothing. In the end, I went to my sister’s and borrowed the spare set with a view of getting some new ones cut Monday morning.

Just before I left on Sunday evening, Steven turned the living room lights on. In the corner of his living room sits one of the CD cabinets and on top of the cabinet is a Tupperware box that houses the photos of the support workers that Steven uses for his daily planner. It’s also where Steven puts his house keys when he comes home. I noticed something metal shining in the Tupperware box and it was my keys!

Me: Steve, who put my keys in the photo box?

Steven: It was Steven Neary.

Me: Why did you put my keys there?

Steven: Because Steven Neary is an orderly man.

I think he recognised the keys. Even though his keys are on a Mr Bean keyring and mine aren’t, he must have spotted that the actual keys were the same. And being an orderly man, the keys to the Cowley house go in the Cowley Tupperware box.

I’ll end with Steven’s favourite song from the 1993 edition of Christmas Top of the Pops.

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3 Comments
  1. simone aspis permalink

    surely its up to the LD tenant to decide who gets a spare set of keys. My parents have a set of keys – thankfully they know where they are – my brother has a set of keys but never seems to know where they are and I have a friend who lives about 20 min walk from me – we have each others sets of keys – we are all human!

  2. weary mother permalink

    A couple of decades ago or more, I was employed to work over a large geographical area for people with learnig disabilities.

    Part of the job was to meet communities and help people newly discharged from the old institutions, to settle into their new communities. A meeting left me with two memories that have remained,.

    I visited a college set up to train C of E vicars, with a colleague from Mental Health services. These students looked pretty wild eyed at the very idea that people with learning disability or mental health issues might want to be wecome/ed into their congregations. A reaction I found pretty shocking.

    My colleague described the abuse and harassment that newly discharged people met out of the ignorance in their communities. It included constant banging on their doors and ridicule when they went outside.

    Yet she (and I) found these abused and very vulnerable people – seemed happy – they loved their new homes, and appeared to tolerate – accept the fear and prejudice – abuse and ridicule – of these ignorant people.

    The first thing they showed us when we visited was their keys – on an array of personal key rings, They could now open and lock their own door.

    They had keys to their own home. They were free. All the rest – was better than they had before.

    Both of these memories – are so sad – so wrong – and so now.

  3. judyb permalink

    I have a set of keys to my adult married daughter’s house and to my next door neighbour’s . They both have keys to our house!!!!!! None of us would use them except in an emergency without an invitation – it’s so normal why would it ever need discussing?????

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