Thomas Rawnsley, a young man with autism, Down’s syndrome and learning difficulties, who was under the care of his local authority, died on Wednesday this week (4/2/15). Thomas had been placed by the Court of Protection in a specialist facility against his wishes and against the wishes of his family.
His family had been fighting for 3 years to get him back home. During this time, Thomas suffered abuse at the hands of care staff. His story, documented here and here, is a terrible indictment of our care system and how we treat people who have learning difficulties (LD) and are vulnerable.
It is not the first time this sort of thing has happened. You can read here about the sad death of Connor Sparrowhawk and here of Nico Reed (links), both in specialist care facilities. Despite a commitment from the government in Transforming Care: A national response Winterbourne View Hospital to ensure that all young people with LD are moved out of these facilities and into appropriate placements in their communities by June 2014, there are currently still 2,600 young people with LD in specialist facilities. The LB Bill is looking to introduce a Private Member’s Bill so that the law helps our young people to stay in their local community.
However, many families have experienced, are experiencing and will experience similar in the future. So as the wheels of change move slowly, ever-pausing, in their journey to a world where our children and young people are an integral part of our community, Bringing Us Together and friends wanted to try to do something to help
We know that there are many people and organisations out there with knowledge, experience and advice to offer to families in this kind of crisis, but often the family do not know they exist, so their support comes too late or not at all.
Bringing Us Together and friends want to produce a database of all the support available to families who need help when they are in crisis; whether their child is detained against their will and the will of their families, or if they are involved in a safeguarding incident with a provider/educational provision or if the families themselves are victims of the system.
Short Term Goal:
- To produce and provide a database of ALL support available to families.
- Bringing Us Together will co-ordinate Justice Together.
Long Term Goal:
- To provide as much support as possible to families of children and young people with disabilities who are in crisis
- Where possible, to provide resources and support to stop the progression of crises that lead to any form of deprivation of liberty
- To raise public awareness of the issues relating to any form of deprivation of liberty and other safeguarding issues for people with disabilities
- We will use the knowledge and information to raise awareness with families.
- Informed parents will be able to make informed choices and decisions.
- Children and young people with disabilities will not die following any kind of detention in state care
- Children and young people with disabilities will not be detained against their wishes/the wishes of their families in inappropriate state funded facilities
- Good quality community placements will be found for children and young people with disabilities who are at risk of any form of detention or are in crisis
- Children and young people with disabilities will be acknowledged as “reliable” witnesses
How will it work?
- Bringing Us Together will co-ordinate Justice Together.
- In time, and with funding, there will be regional Justice Together Co-ordinators.
- Regional Justice Together Co-ordinators will put together and maintain databases of people in their region with skills and knowledge, who are willing to assist Justice Together on a voluntary basis
- Regional Justice Together Co-ordinators will put together a list of good quality providers in their region
- Regional Justice Together Co-ordinators will deploy their team of appropriately skilled and knowledgeable volunteers who can quickly come together to provide advice, guidance, advocacy, emotional and practical support to the family in crisis
- For families heading towards crisis, the same will be available but on a smaller and less intensive scale
How can you help?
- Can you offer support to a family? If so, what experience do you have and which local authority areas can you offer the support in?
- Do you have experience with fundraising or grant writing? We would like key people offering support (e.g. Regional Co-ordinators) to be recompensed, and we are seeking to cover all volunteer-related expenses, so we need funds to do that.
- Do you use social media or do you blog? We need people who can share news and information. We need to make people aware of Justice Together.
- Do you know the providers in your local area?
- Do you have expertise in a specific area (such as advocacy, psychology, social work, health, etc) that you are willing to share with others?
- Do you have technical expertise to offer for databases, SQL, etc.
Ideas and suggestions
- What would make Justice Together work in your area?
- What else do you think we need?
- Do you know of others doing this on a local level who would be happy to get involved?
- Can you share this with any friends or colleagues who may want to go on the database?
- Can you recommend a local or national organisation who provides support to families?
We don’t want to replicate any good work happening in local areas, we just want to ensure that parents know about and can access that help before it is too late.
Expressions of Interest and Suggestions:
In February, we are asking for feedback and expressions of interest. If you would like to be involved with Justice Together or if you have a suggestion, please complete the form below by 28 February 2015.