Smile please! / 15 March 2009
Many of the anti-charity cartoons that I’ve created over the past couple of decades have tended to hit out at the Leonard Cheshire Foundation (LCF) and I’m often asked why that is.
Where to begin? Well, apart from the fact that I’ve known quite a few people who have been ‘incarcerated’ (their description) in LCF homes and have told me about the lack of any mechanism that allows for them to have a say in the running of the establishments, and therefore their lives, I also take exception to an organisation that has learned how to talk the Social Model understanding of disability without actually implementing it in any meaningful way.
I know that LCF will challenge this statement and say that things have now changed, but not from what I’ve heard. It wasn’t so long ago that an employment survey of charities discovered that out of the 7,000 odd people that were employed by LCF only 0.8% were Disabled people. Interestingly I’ve not been able to establish how many Disabled people are now employed by the charity although I suspect that the figure hasn’t changed all that much.
They also had a very suspect beginning back in 1948 when the so called ‘war hero’ Leonard Cheshire set up his first place in a dilapidated old property called Le Court in Hampshire. It’s alleged that they’re still providing their so-called service in places that are ‘unfit for purpose’. Indeed one of their own Directors is on record as stating that over 80% of the property LCF used fell within this category.
In 2000 Paul Darke launched a web site called Leonard-cheshire.com. The site contained a lot of info about the organisation that he’d gathered whilst working for them. Information about directors and senior staff being covered by private medical insurance whilst residents waited for treatment under the NHS; over four million pounds a year being spent on public relations and advertising; staff weekend get-togethers costing over ten thousand pounds a time … The charities reaction to this flow of information was to spend even more of tax payers money and take expensive legal action in order to have the site shut down.
While LCF continues to put all of their effort into segregating Disabled people from mainstream society I will continue to produce cartoons that challenge them.
If you want to find out more about this organisation and how other Disabled people feel about them I would recommend looking at the review by Dr Laurence Clark entitled ‘Leonard Cheshire versus The Disabled People’s Movement’. It’s available as a free PDF downloadable file on the disability archive web site. Here’s the link: