A Whopping Big Thank You

Boom. That was the week that was. That was the week of
7 Days of Action. It’s going to take a long time to process all that has happened.

We want to thank each and every one of you for the phenomenal support you have given to the campaign. We have been blown away by the way people have stepped up to the plate and got right behind the mum’s and the seven dudes. As I write, the blog containing the seven stories has received 72,580 views. The stories have been retweeted and shared on Facebook by an incredible number of people. We are so grateful and moved by everyone’s humanity.

So many people got into the spirit of the campaign and just ran with it. All the posts and actions have been collated on the blog and will remain as an archive of the Seven Days of Action. Elaine James has also compiled a magnificent Storify of the week’s highlights which adds to the history. It’s unfair to single out individuals but I just want to mention a couple. A huge thanks to Chris Hatton and Ian Penfold who wrote daily pieces to support the campaign and it was great to get the contributions from two dudes who have experienced life in an ATU. Thank you Peter and Steven.

On a personal note, I want to thank the seven mums who bravely shared their stories. I can’t begin to describe the enormous pressure they were under from the professionals who have control of their sons, not to tell their stories. But tell them they did and I salute their courage. Thank you Debs, Eve, Paula, Nina, Leo, Jackie and Mother P.

What happens next is down to everyone. It is everybody’s campaign. There isn’t a campaign committee, it’s simply a group of determined people at their wits end. There have been some stonking suggestions over the past week and we hope these can all be carried forward. The blog and Facebook group will remain open for folk to discuss the next steps. And we will update you on the progress of the seven dudes and hope that the legal people who have come on board can bring about some happy endings.

My belief is that our biggest hope for the future lies with the seven dudes themselves. One thing the professionals completely miss in all these cases is that it is impossible to break the human spirit and will of these guys. The week before the campaign I met Jack, who two days beforehand had been released from a long detention in an ATU. He was talking about his future. He hadn’t been broken. None of the dudes featured in Seven Days of Action have. They couldn’t break Thomas’s will. They broke his body.

I think my favourite story of the whole week happened on Friday. It was Eden’s (our day one dude) review. The advocate who was acting for him reported that after 7 years detention, he is able to express what he wanted totally clearly and say what he wanted for his future. That’s will. That’s the human spirit.

So a massive thank you for sharing your spirit to Eden, Jack, Thomas, Tianze, Stephen, Robert and P. We will get you home.

Many, many thanks to everyone.

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Life For A Learning Disabled Person 2016

Monday 18th April 2016 saw the start of a UK 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 make no apologies that the stories are relentlessly bleak. Life in an ATU is relentlessly bleak. The stories are painful to read and you may feel like giving up on the blog. Please don’t. We feel it is important that the reality of Eden, Stephen, Tianze, Thomas, Joshua, Jack, Ryan, Connor, Eddie and Robert’s lives are heard.

They need you to hear their story.

Please check out the other pages of this blog. Watch and listen to the selection of ATU films and songs. Read a mother’s poetry. Check out Sam Sly’s plans for life outside an ATU. Absorb Chris Hatton’s ATU facts and figures and if you would like to contribute to the blog, please let us know.

And please, as the 7 Days of Action progresses and you read the stories, ask yourselves, what can I do to help these young people have the life they deserve.

Thank you.