Back in April during the week long campaign, we featured on Day One, the story of Eden Norris. Eden has been in ATUs continuously for seven years. The blog post attracted a massive number of views and Eden was featured on the BBC News and in the film “Stuck In The System”.
For a few hopeful weeks in April, it looked like Eden might be moving towards a discharge. Then, a minor incident happened and all those plans seem further away than ever.
We’ve asked Eden’s mum, Deb, to update us on what has happened since April……
” In April, Eden’s responsible Clinician was talking about discharge around September/October 2016. Whilst we all felt hopeful, we were nervous too because exactly the same plan was put in place last year. Eden’s hopes were raised but it all came to nothing as the LA could not find suitable housing and wouldn’t agree on a support package. Despite a year of many meetings with the LA to talk about housing and providers, nothing happened and Eden became more depressed. We were told that funding wasn’t the issue but don’t understand why the plans have come to nothing.
Eden is 160 miles from home and is cut off from me, his siblings, his grandparents and his beloved dog. As the journey is a 13 hour round trip which involves three trains, I can only visit Eden once a fortnight. Every visit begins and ends with Eden asking, “When am I coming home? Is my flat ready yet?” It breaks my heart that I can’t answer either of those questions. And as I am his mother, Eden doesn’t understand why I can’t answer them either.
Eden has autism and learning difficulties but has never been diagnosed with a mental health problem.
During April and May, Eden was allowed to have five visits out of the Unit during my visiting time. With two staff from the Unit, we went into Norwich and he thoroughly enjoyed the meals out, bowling, the amusement arcades and walking around the shops. Eden likes people and is very chatty, so naturally he became alive during these trips out.
Then one day, it all changed. We had enjoyed a lovely day out and came to the point of returning back to the ATU. We were in the town and as instructed by the staff, I went to the station to pick up my return train. At some point, shortly after I left, Eden decided that he didn’t want to go back to the Unit but wanted to come home with me. The Unit car was parked on the 7th floor of a multi storey car park and Eden refused to walk back to it. The staff called the Unit and were advised to call the police. Eden was not being aggressive but was stubbornly refusing to move an inch. The police arrived and thankfully they really liked Eden. Eventually, about 7 hours later, Eden was returned to the ATU in the hospital van.
Eden hasn’t been allowed out with us since.
He is over medicated and constantly complains about the side effects of the drugs. He receives no stimulation in the Unit and is left daily to his own devices. It has been so upsetting in the last few weeks seeing how Eden is being left to rot. Literally! His Hygeine is poor and he lives such a miserable existence. Yet the people who make the decisions don’t seem to notice. Eden feels he is being punished for that day in Norwich.
I still live in the same home that Eden lived in until he was 15. Eden would love to return here. I would love him to return here. Hammersmith & Fulham council have said this is not possible and will only consider Eden living on his own in supported living or a group home. He doesn’t want that. Despite that, Hammersmith & Fulham are no further forward in finding a place or fixing up support.
Communication with the Unit is poor. Their phone lines are often down! and they rarely respond to emails. Ironically, Eden’s communication has also suffered whilst there. His speech is slurred due to the heavy duty medication. Eden has a lot of potential and it would be great if he could restart his education which abruptly stopped when he was 8.
Eden’s mental health section runs out in September. He is due to have a CPA in October. There is no plan for finding him a home. There is no plan for finding him a support team. There is no plan for any home visits. There is no plan to reintroduce the trips into Norwich when I visit. He is stuck in the system.
Please help us. Please support the campaign. All we are asking is that Eden’s right to a family life is respected and that he can restart his education.