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We say ENOUGH! / 24 October 2012

Crippen's abuse reporting cartoon

Crippen's cartoon about abuse within care homes

Zoom in to this image and read text description

It is being stated that physical and sexual abuse has been prevalent within mental hospitals, disability institutions and care establishments throughout the UK for the past 50 years. Many of the incidents that were reported were allegedly ignored, either because the resident or patient was not believed or because it was not considered in the 'best interest' of the care community to make such allegations public.

Now we have a growing list of statements made by people who were institutionalised during this time who claim that they were also abused, not just by staff, but also by well know public figures, including the late TV celebrity Jimmy Saville.

Lynn Harrison who facilitates a FaceBook group of people with experience as a user of the mental health system told me: "Speaking with many other disabled people who have come up through the care system, they tell me that this represents the tip of a very large iceberg which has seen vulnerable people, particularly those with mental health diagnoses, learning difficulties and other impairments, being abused in many ways for far too long by organisations that have professed to protect them.

"This scandal has also highlighted the prevalence of vulnerable people being disbelieved and ignored in the past when they have been brave enough to try to speak out." 

For too long the establishment has worked hard at maintaining the status quo that disabled people should be seen and not heard. They tell us through their words and actions that our complaints are not valid and we should be grateful to those organisations who have taken it on themselves to offer us both a home and the care which we need; we should be grateful, even when the people involved in these organisations physically and sexually abuse us.

In a climate where this government seem determined to push us all back into care, we say ENOUGH!

 

Keywords: abuse,abused,disability,disability history,disability professionals,disabled peoples movement,disabled peoples protest,disabled women,discrimination,jimmy savile

Comments

richard downes

/
25 October 2012

interesting that Cov Mind have been named here. Also putting charities in the frame.

It seems there is a clear link between abusers and charity. It is said abusers use the concept of good deeds and respectability to target those who can be abused.

Another reason to join in the Burn Pudsey Event at https://www.facebook.com/events/361402640611917/370801953005319/?comment_id=370802036338644¬if_t=event_mall_comment

More information on this can be found on my disability arts blog. Have a look at my pieces around jimmy saVILE the one on the burn pudsey event

Be really good if people could start to congregate around this event and find support from each other

Crippen

/
25 October 2012

Thanks Richard. It's a painful business picking at scars isn't it? But I've found that it's easier doing the picking with people that you know and trust ... worth it in the end though.

richard downes

/
25 October 2012

Its not just the care system. We need to add special schools to the list as organisations like ALLFIE have done before.

I am still surviving special school. I tend to cutoff,close down, lie in my coffin as it were. I learned to let the abusers poke and prod, bully and humiliate, but only up to a point. The point being were i could take no more and would explode with anger and lash out.

I felt the stoicism this gave me was a strength but i'm know finding out it is not and that i should engage with my emotions more.

It takes a long time to survive. Some of survive in a way that can only be about managing the scars. I've started picking at my wounds now and its in the hope of getting better and being left with nothing to survive

Crippen

/
24 October 2012

Thanks for that Lynn :-)

Lynn Harrison

/
24 October 2012

It's time Mind and its local Mind associations came clean, it has know about abuses for many years:

OK Coventry Mind... whilst they have employed some very caring people, they have also employed some complete bastards, some of whom I have taken issue with with Cov Mind and got nowhere, and some of these I have taken up with national Mind and have got nowhere. There are many, many abuses going back over many years. Possibly, the worst thing I heard, from several people, was about a worker at their drop in who I was told, enjoyed abusing service users, one example of this was that she would twist the nipples of vulnerable men in the day centre. At the Xmas meal, on Xmas day, she told people who had gone to the drop in that she was proud of having dealt with her neighbour's cat by poisoning it with rat poison which she had hidden in some tuna Coventry Mind workers managed to get away with visiting a client who they were meant to be providing home support to, who was dead and remained so, before and during their visit, by claiming that they thought she was taking a call and needed some privacy. She was dead and had died in her chair

One of the main reasons Cov Mind got away with this at the time, and I did take it up with the then CEO Richard Brookes as it came out during a Mind conference and I was asked to, imho, was because one of the trustees of Cov Mind had also managed to get himself onto national Mind's management committee

Another abuse, again occurred at the drop in, when a woman was verbally bullied by the then manager Stephen Hill, she killed herself by jumping off a tower block, she was heavily pregnant

Cov Mind is the largest local Mind association in the UK

A service user at the drop in was banned after trying for many hours to speak to someone to try to get some help. They were told that they were 'attention seeking' they have autism and had felt they had been encouraged by the manager to ask for help but then this had been withdrawn, for reasons that weren't explained. They felt so distressed they cut themselves. Coventry Mind's response was to call the police and ban them from its services.

There are many, many abuses I and other people know about, but as advocates, we take them as far as our clients want to go and we cannot take them further if people don't wish us to, and that isn't saying that we haven't taken them here there and everywhere and got nowhere because, at the end of the day there are many people who are not seen as 'reliable witnesses' and the systems that should protect people... don't

Nicky Bettany

/
24 October 2012

Thank you Lynn, Its well past time that people started asking Mind questions about these and other matters.

I, for one would be pleased to see the response to this

kind regards

Lynn Harrison

/
24 October 2012

Email sent to Paul Farmer, Mind CEO:

Paul Farmer

CEO Mind

24/10/2010

Dear Paul

I am writing to you as a former Mindlink National Advisory Panel member and as someone involved in supporting members of an online mental health advocacy group which has over 100 members, several of whom have been very affected by the revelations of the terrible abuse perpetrated by Jimmy Savile and unnamed others.

People feel strongly that the case represents the tip of a very large iceberg which has seen vulnerable people, particularly those with mental health diagnoses, learning difficulties and other impairments, being abused in many ways for far too long by organisations that have professed to protect them.

This scandal has highlighted the prevalence of vulnerable people being disbelieved and ignored when they have been brave enough to try to speak out and whilst a general anti-mental health stigma campaign is obviously beneficial, there is a strong feeling that the many who have been at the worst end of discrimination and abuse have been exploited for far too long and would like to ask what Mind, as one of the UK’s largest mental health charities, is going to do to support people who have been affected and to ensure that people, who have often already been abused, are not then subject to further violation by the very agencies which are supposed to help them? Specifically, publically funded bodies such as broadcasting organisations, care providers, the police, social services, the prison system and voluntary sector providers?

On behalf of the members of the group, I would also like to ask Mind to explain its role at Duncroft School, for which it was responsible from 1973?

We understand that Mind has released a statement which says it is co-operating with the police enquiry and that it has few records from that time. However, we understand that the majority of the girls were subject to local authority care orders, which, surely must mean that records would still be available as I believe they would have to be retained for a minimum of 25 years as do charity records?

We understand that, following Duncroft coming under the auspices of Mind, that a management committee of 12 members was appointed and that a majority of eight of these were appointed by Mind itself? We would like to ask how these people were selected and who they were? And to ask how Duncroft was inspected by Mind and by the local authority and presumably by the Home Office and what the outcomes of any monitoring was during the time that these abuses were taking place? We note that Panorama and Newsnight reported that the home was often visited by numerous people, including Jimmy Savile, and that these visits seem to occur sporadically without any checks or questions being asked and we would like to ask how this could happen? Would the management have been aware of Jimmy Savile’s visits and, presumably, would they have given permission for patients to be taken out of the home by people other than their family? As these girls were being taken, in groups, to recordings of programmes at television centre, would the management have been aware of this and have given their permission? How did it come about that, it would appear, that the underage patients knew about the abuses, and indeed, other visitors (including one of the producers of the Newsnight investigation whose aunt was a manager at the home and who visited there himself as a boy), and yet, according to the statement Mind has issued, it would appear that staff and indeed Mind has no knowledge of this?

Also, people would like to ask Mind questions about the abuses at Broadmoor, specifically why it did not do more to stop this at the time? Given that Mindlink and Mind had members who were patients at the hospital for many years, did Mind ever have any knowledge about abuses there? I believe that Janet Cresswell was both a patient at Broadmoor and a member of Mind, and we would like to ask if anyone like Janet ever raised issues of abuse at the hospital, and if so, what did Mind do about this and why didn’t it instigate a campaign to stop this?

Several of us attended a Mind conference in Harrogate in 2005, when the former governor at Broadmoor spoke about how she had tried to act as a whistleblower, so, it would appear that people did know about these issues?

Also, some of us as NAP members, remember being told how difficult it was to visit people in Broadmoor, and I believe that this did change, but, before it did, we were lead to believe, by Mind, that visits to members there were all but impossible and we would like Mind to explain more about its communications with Broadmoor, as we were not given detailed information about this at the time? It does seem very convenient that the very people who could perhaps have advocated for fellow survivors in the hospital were kept very firmly away from communicating with patients at the time that the hospital had the most to hide and we would like to know how this came about and who at Broadmoor’s management was responsible and with whom were they communicating at Mind?

We would also like to impress upon Mind the importance of having a strong, democratically elected user/survivor network which could help to steer the organisation towards operating in a more user-focussed, if not user-led, way, and these incidents together with the effect of the welfare reforms and cuts in services, serve to highlight the need for this even further. We would like to know what Mind is doing to continue the hard work Mindlink did and its achievements over many years and to demonstrate how it feels its current efforts are being effective in giving users and survivor across the UK a voice and meaningful social inclusion?

Kind regards

Lynn Harrison

On behalf of the members of the Mental Health and the Wider Disability Movement Group