This is a photo of LB taken 2 days into the last year of his life. His school prom. July 6th 2012. Owen went with him that year. When I found this photo earlier, Tom was delighted. We should get it printed and framed, he enthused. Such a brilliant photo. It is (though this is a screen grab, I can’t find the original right now because of some horrible hiccup with my groaning Mac.) As Tom said, he looks like the guy who the party is organised around. Too blinking cool for school (my cheesy words, not Tom’s). The world at his feet…
That wasn’t a celebratory school prom because LB’s school mate was an inpatient in a children’s unit in Norwich at the time. He’d been there for a few months, had been drugged to the eyeballs and (subsequently) subject to abuse/restraint. He came to the prom with his sister and his mum on a weekend visit home. We (#ragingmothers) kept our heads down in a side room, trying not to visibly cry when we saw how he’d been affected by his experience/medication.
At the time, LB was, as he looks here, a young dude at the start of his adult life. He occupied a loved and adored place in his extended family, rocked school (and the prom) and was (recognising the constraints around not being able to leave home on his own, cross the road, count to 10 or understand the implications of certain actions) a chilled dude.
Less than a year later he was dead. Shockingly. Preventably. And so far without anyone held accountable. (Or any real change).
LB’s mate is currently experiencing some difficulties having had a good year or so at home with good support. There’s now no in-county provision now STATT has shut. A horrible, sad and howling circularity to LB and his mate’s actual experiences and the government policies including Norman Lamb’s handwringing about abject failure and lack of change, Winterbourne View concordat tentacles and what any of this means to the providers in real terms.
There are some serious questions to be asked about the current closure of STATT and the obligations of the commissioners and local authority to provide effective and good services for people within the county. Basically, if they were able to provide shite provision at extortionate cost in county for however many years, why can’t they provide something good now they know the problems that exist? It really ain’t rocket science.
Or it shouldn’t be dressed up to be.