Seven Days of ATU Action – In Sight & Sound

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:


9 thoughts on “Seven Days of ATU Action – In Sight & Sound

  1. is it just coincidence that most of those detained in these places need a lot of love and care and are very unlikely to vote ? I wish you well in your fight

    Liked by 4 people

  2. Too often I feel that were any one of us put in the situations people find themselves powerless in the face of the institution and where any objection we make is read as proof of our disturbed mind/mental ill health, would it be any different? And yet we would have many more tools at our disposal – speech, an ability to use the law and our legal rights, possibly more powerful friends. It’s the irony of ATUs that normal behaviours/responses are read as pathology. We might have the tools to express our distress in more acceptable ways but like Tizane, wouldn’t we have felt acute distress to learn we couldn’t go home to our family for Christmas? I think I’d have wanted to hot someone definitely!

    Liked by 3 people

  3. Mark do you know that Debbie Edens mum. Used to know Clare Cameron David Cameron’s sister. And that Debbie used to go to meeting with Clare Cameron about Eden? 5 years ago. David Cameron knew about Eden. And did nothing to help Debbie. Shameless. This politicians.


  4. Yes – it is ‘politics’. They really don’t give a f…! Whatever their ‘colour’ which is exactly why we have this situation. Whoever ‘invented’ ATU’s? Why the ‘need’? For what ‘purpose’ exactly?

    How can this possibly be justified in a 21st century ‘democracy(?)’


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s