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Crippen looks at the reality of life in a residential home / 25 January 2010

Crippen looks at the reality of life in a home for disabled people

Crippen's cartoon about life in a residential home for disabled people

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Disabled activists, who campaign to raise awareness of those disabled people who are currently incarcerated in one of the many homes run and controlled by the big disability charities, are often asked, "but surely in this day and age, no one is kept in these places against their will?"

In answer to this, I want to tell you about John (not his real name), who resides in a Leonard Cheshire home for young disabled people. We've exchanged emails a couple of times and I've sent him a copy of my 2010 cartoon calendar. He told me that he has to hide the calendar because the staff wouldn't approve of some of the cartoons in it, especially those that parody the type of behaviour that the staff participate in!

John, like hundreds of other disabled people in his position, faces the prospect of spending the rest of his life trapped in the Leonard Cheshire system. There is no support offered to those disabled people who want to break away from this institutionalised care; no advice on how to navigate through the bureaucracy that prevents him and others from accessing the sort of care package that would allow him to live on his own, or with friends. He talks of being patronised and treated like a child; visited by 'do-gooders' whose sole objective, it seems, is to get another dose of that 'feel good' factor at his expense.

John has given me permission to reproduce the following extract from his last email...

"Do you know we have Father Christmas coming round on Christmas Day? I mean, some fat patronising bloke in a red suit comes round with his stupid sodding bell saying "Ho Ho Ho" and giving out presents (invariably tins of shortbread; there's a glut for the next few weeks.) We're all adults, it's a home for young adults (though some people are now elderly having lived here for years) and that's what they do; treat us like little infant kids. What's perhaps even worse, is that a lot of the people here don't get to go out. I mean practically never, not for weeks upon end; as they don't have the support they need and family don't bother with them. We could really do with volunteers from (say) the local Lions to get people out of this depressing and distressing place. But we only ever see them on Christmas Day when they come and make themselves feel better about themselves by patronising charity towards us cripples.

I hide from him. I mean - a 30-odd year old man hiding from Father Christmas in his own home. It's not pretty, I tell you."

So the next time you see a member of the Disabled people's Direct Action Network (DAN) shouting out "Free our people!" think about John and hundreds of other Disabled people just like him.

Keywords: charities,direct action network (dan),disabled people's movement,residential care,young disabled people,

Comments

Crippen

/
1 February 2010

Some news on the grapevine indicates that a young disabled man living in one of the Leonard Cheshire homes has been asked to make alternative arrangements for his accommodation. Their reason? They are no longer able to meet his needs. The fact that this young crip has been challenging the organisation for not providing the care appropriate to young disabled people (see another example of this in this blog posting) is surely just a coincidence. I'll try and find out more and post when I do.

Sue Bott

/
1 February 2010

It reminds me of the special school I attended when each Christmas we had to endure workers from the local car factory coming round to give us presents that they had raised the money for but the staff had bought. All we wanted to do was go to the disco (it was the early 70s) like their own kids. Thanks Crippen for the timely reminder that there is still a lot more for the disability movement to do.

coleen

/
29 January 2010

I Really don't know what all this Cultural Olympiad stuff is going to for disabled people at the bottom of the food chain.

The governments' directive to put diversity at the top of peoples' agendas is all very well - but it invariably means consultancies led by non-disabled people earning bucket-loads asking patronising questions of disabled people who just get used.

Where are the voices of those who are kept inside institutions?

pink pjs

/
26 January 2010

Also, despite 'care in the community' (hah!) many, many people are still trapped in privately-run smaller and equally scary versions of the old asylums. In our area, ironically, these fall into the category of mental health services known as 'Rehab'! And the people who have been binned off into these places are described as having 'severe and enduring mental illness' what they they appear to have is no hope, no choice and no life! People invariable stay in these hell holes until they die. Their lives are completely regimented and have to ask staff for permission to do things we would all take for granted. I visited one once, Maplewood (Coventry) honestly, like a set for a hammer-house-of-horror film, the staff hid themselves away most of the time behind the locked door of the office where resident's money, fags and other personal posessions were also kept. And, the most dominating feature in the staff room was a large white board on which were residents names and their psychiatric drugs and dosages. However, staff told me they totally understood and embraced 'recovery'!

Crippen

/
26 January 2010

DAN currently have a FaceBook page for further info about their activities - http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=5192342478

Perhaps other DANners could post up alternative contact numbers etc for people interested in getting involved? Thanks

Arty Farty

/
26 January 2010

I was lucky, I escaped from being sent to one of these prison camps. How can anyone think that these places are a suitable environment for young disabled people to grow into self assurred, assertive individuals. Crips everywhere should join the Disabled people's Direct Action Network to 'FREE OUR PEOPLE!'

Mary Marshall Fowler

/
26 January 2010

Correction:

"Free our people"

Mary Marshall Fowler

/
26 January 2010

My husband, Jim Gonsalves, worked at the Regional Center of the East Bay (Oakland, California) for 10 years. During that time he worked on getting some people out of institutions. (The Regional Centers oversee funds which are designated for people with developmental disabilities.)

Jim has cerebral palsy and uses a power wheelchair.

We need more people who can "fee our people".

Mary Marshall Fowler

Alameda, California