Robert’s Home in Robert’s Home

Yesterday, Jackie posted a marvellous picture of Robert, our day six dude, spending his first day in his new home.


It’s a really important picture because it shows the immediate value of Robert having his own space. Things that can never happen in in-patient services.

Robert has his own TV. In an ATU, there is usually a TV in the communal lounge and people’s preferred viewing has to be negotiated with the preferences of the other detainees and the staff coming into play.

Robert has a shelf unit with all his personal stuff on it. He can chose when he watches a DVD. This couldn’t happen in an ATU. When Steven was detained, he quickly cottoned on to the fact that his personal items that are of great importance to him weren’t safe. CDs would go missing or damaged, so after a few weeks, he would ask me to bring them home. You don’t want to put your valuable belongings at risk.

Robert is wearing his own clothes that fit him. In an ATU, clothes go missing and you find yourself wearing someone else’s clothes. Regardless of size. Or your clothes are hideously shrunk in the industrial type washing machines that ATUs tend to favour. Robert can now go about his business looking like a regular dude and not an inmate.

It is so heart warming.

Let’s raise our glasses to Robert, Jackie, all his family and friends who have battled so hard and to those professionals who fought Robert’s corner when the decision makers had other plans.

News From The Past Seven Days

As promised, here is an update of the seven dudes featured in 7 Days of Action and some news on the campaign itself.

It is probably fair to say that there have been markedly differing consequences for the seven families whose stories we featured a week ago. Whilst we can announce an incredibly positive story, we are also sad to report that the threats and intimidation from the professionals has cranked up for some of the families. As a result, we will be reporting a couple of the bad things that have happened anonymously, so not to inflame the professionals who are following the campaign.

First, the most brilliant news. Robert, our day six dude, is returning home. In what was quite a remarkable U-turn by the LA, who a week earlier were still planning on sending Robert further from home to Devon, the council have now agreed Jackie’s proposal. The property that Jackie found has been accepted as being in Robert’s best interests and the new care providers have already started working with him. The final move is expected to happen in the next four weeks.

There is also a small glimmer of light for Jack, our day two dude, as well. Although no discharge date has been set and a further review meeting set for next month, the professionals have started working with Jack and Eve on drawing up his person centred plan. The plan will be geared towards Jack living back in the community. Yesterday, Jack went to see the flat that will eventually be his new home, so he can now start visualising what his life there will look like.

A couple of pieces of good news arising from the campaign. An independent documentary producer got in touch with a plan to make a short film about ATUs and filming starts on that next week. Also, we were contacted by a major university seeking permission to include the Seven Days of Action material in a new social work course they are devising.

And now for the bad news:

We’ll start with a rhetorical question. Imagine you’re a mother who is informed that earlier that day your son had been hurt whilst being pinned down, which apparently some of the staff found very funny and laughed at him. Is this an assault? Is it a safeguarding issue? On top of that, the mother is frightened of reporting the matter officially because of the way she has experienced reprisals in the past for reporting similar incidents.

Another mother went to visit her son yesterday. She was met at the gates by the security guards and was told that she couldn’t enter if she was wearing any clothes that had pockets. They said that they didn’t want her bringing her phone or camera on to the premises, so she had to leave her coat and her bag in the car. This seems to us a very punishing rule. Families tend to respect the privacy of other residents and have no intention of photographing them. But families document their history through photos. It’s how we tell out stories and pass them on to future generations. Although, this is a horrible time in this dude’s history, it is still part of his life that will have a large pictorial chunk missing.

One mother has been threatened in the last week with a gagging order. The LA, having seen the blog, threatened to go to court to place a restriction on the mother discussing her son online. Personally I feel that if the State spent as much energy as they do in surveilling families online activity on providing decent care, all the dudes in the six ATU stories would be home by now.

Nina had a CPA meeting on Monday. Expecting the meeting to focus on Tianze’s discharge, she was shocked to hear the responsible clinician announce that the period of assessment would take another 18 months. His rationale was that the previous 21 months’ worth of assessment took place in a children’s hospital. Now that Tianze is in an adult unit, the timescale for assessment has been reset to zero and all the previous data collected is void. The family fear and wonder how another 18 months away from home and from the love of his family, and being in an articial and restricted environment can be of any help to Tianze.

And Paula received the distressing news that Thomas’s final pre-inquest hearing that had been set for the 5th May had been adjourned with no date yet fixed. The explanation was that “some of the other parties need more time to assemble their case”. In the same week as the Hillsborough inquest, this raises the issue again about the disparity in legal representation at inquests. The phrase “some of the other parties” suggest that there are quite a few parties involved, all will have their legal costs paid for by the State. Paula won’t.

We’ll finish this update by reposting Mark Brown’s brilliant post
7daysofaction…and a Ninja Project?

Many people have asked the question, what happens next and it’s important that we don’t lose the momentum or support that built up over seven days. Please read mark’s blog. He makes several suggestions about the next course of action and we are very keen to receive as much feedback as possible before Phase Two.