Monday 18th April 2016 sees the start of a campaign to raise awareness of the thousands of learning disabled people currently being held against their wishes in assessment and treatment units. Often, these units are hundreds of miles from the person’s home. The average time spent in an ATU (assessment and treatment unit) is 5.5 years. The average cost per week for treatment in an ATU is £3500.
The campaign will be presenting a number of stories over the next week. Stories of people who have been trapped in their unit for years. Stories of people who have managed to be freed from their detention but still bear the scars of their experience. And sadly, stories of people who have died whilst in the care of their Unit.
We’re aiming high. By the end of the seven days of action, we hope to have stirred enough interest in a group of people, considered by many of the people who hold the power over these people, to be less than human. We hope that by the end of seven days, more people are aware of what life is like when you’re detained in an ATU. And our wildest dream is that by the end of seven days, the light at the end of the tunnel for the people whose stories you read, and the many thousand others, will be shining more brightly than it has done since their incarceration.
Here is a song from Julie Newcombe, whose own son, Jamie, spent time in an ATU. The song is performed by Caroline Kick:
And here’s The Tale of Laughing Boy. A short film about Connor Sparrowhawk, who died in an ATU in 2013:
And Kara Chrome’s fantastic anti-anthem to ATUs:
And here’s a very distressing film of Thomas Rawnsley taken two days before he died in an ATU of “natural causes”:
And some music from one of the dudes currently in an ATU, Tizane, whose story will feature this week:
And finally a film made by the Challenging Behaviour Foundation that they have kindly given us permission to use here: