Finding solutions, we never imagined
Following the recent legal challenge on behalf of over 2000 people who are still living in secure hospitals, Sarah Maguire, our CEO, asks what can we do as individuals to make a difference?
We all woke up recently to the news that the Equalities and Human Rights Commission had launched a legal challenge against the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care. This challenge was for the repeated failure to move people with learning disabilities and autism out of secure hospitals and into appropriate accommodation.
The challenge is about over 2000 people who are still living in secure hospitals despite promises made by the Government back in 2011, (after the Winterbourne View scandal), that people would be moved back into their communities, to live closer to their families and loved ones.
We have all read the newspapers and watched with horror as the most recent abuse scandal at Whorlton Hall unfolded on TV. After hearing the news of this legal challenge, I was left asking myself what kind of society do we live in? Where doing the right thing, making sure that people live their lives free from abuse, is so hard to achieve.
Twenty-four hours later, after having spent a day with other providers, families and self-advocates at the Learning Disability England (LDE) annual conference, I am asking a different question. That question is what can we do as individuals to make a difference? How can we be part of shaping a more inclusive society?
We all do this in different ways. Some people join organisations that focus on people, like MIND or the NSPCC or Amnesty International, others on global or environmental issues like Extinction Rebellion or the Green Party. Others feel strongly about animal welfare and may support the RSPCA. These are personal choices that are about us being part of making a difference.
You may not know a great deal about LDE. It is a membership organisation made up of families, carers and providers. I am lucky enough to be chair of the board of trustees and yesterday the members voted Jodie Williams, a self-advocate, to be our vice chair. We are an organisation that is trying to create a movement that ends some of the abuses, like those at Winterbourne View and Whorlton Hall that I mentioned above. We want to make life better for people with learning disabilities and autism.
If we want to live in a society that is inclusive of people with mental health, learning disabilities and autism we need to understand the experience of our fellow citizens. We need to think about our role in this. So, next time you are with the people in the groups you have chosen to give your time and money to, think about how inclusive they are of people who have a disability and need support. If they are not inclusive, what can you do to change this?
By the way it only costs £12 a year to be a member of LDE. Have a look at the LDE website and see if you want to join us?
You can listen to our co-founder Gary Bourlet in this clip sharing the history of LDE.