Charlie’s Angels came round after school today. So lovely to see them. Catch up with what’s happening at school and reminisce (sob). As always, they blew me away with their stories. Their memories of LB (always new, hilarious anecdotes). And the lengths they routinely go to provide experiences for a group of kids who too often miss out. Well, unless it’s an experience laid on by the likes of the pity porn brigade which inevitably comes with a price tag attached; compulsory badged t-shirt wearing and organised photo-shoots.
We got chatting about the residential trip to Yenworthy last year. And the day spent surfing. They’d pushed one of LB’s classmates, a wheelchair[bed]-user, miles along the beach, wet-suited him up and got him out in a boat. (Not easy). His first time in the sea. They even managed to get him laying on a surfboard. For the experience.
Everyone had a ball. A day of laughter, sunshine and a good soaking.
The Angels recount these experiences with humour and an underlying (matter of fact and steely) ‘can do’ attitude. Remarkable. Though it shouldn’t be.
I think of the way in which LB was left to lie around the unit (through ‘choice’) all those months. Doing pretty much nothing. And the other young dudes I know who have hugely expensive ‘care packages’ (around £2000 a week) and yet lead lives of independently supported, er, nothingness. Sterile and non social lives (interacting only with ever-changing, underpaid, bored carers who co-exist in the same space for a set number of hours a day).
There is something horribly wrong about the way so many learning disabled people lead their lives in the UK. And a terrible acceptance that less than good enough is good enough for these dudes. ‘No can do’ is the default position. Endorsed by the (non) actions of policymakers, commissioners, practitioners and regulatory bodies.
If a small group of teaching staff can get a disparate group of dudes into the sea, smashing up the waves and having fun, why can’t expectations of what care providers provide for their (substantial) buck be ramped up?