For the last few months, people have been sending in gingerbread figures. We wanted to find some way of representing the learning disabled people who died in Sloven’s non care [howl], uncovered by the Mazars review, visually. George hit on the gingerbread idea and we were off. Envelopes started stacking up in the My Life My Choice office.
Over the past few weeks, while we’ve been waiting (and waiting) for publication of the report, gingerbread fairies have been working behind the scenes mounting these (337*) colourful, vibrant and quirky figures on large boards. A lot of velcro and eventually a staple gun.
We heard this week that a meeting was being held at Jubilee House today with attendees from Sloven [who were subsequently uninvited], Oxfordshire County Council and NHS England (NHSE), among others. Sounded just the place for a pop up display of the Justice gingerbreads. We would invite the meeting attendees to come out and view them.
Local press pitched up. Along with a security guard who tried to get shot of us. Private space and all. We stayed. He hovered taking phone shots of us. An NHSE comms woman appeared, shrugging her shoulders nervously and went between the meeting and the display, several times. The My Life My Choice minibus appeared with a gang of champs, solidly supportive as always.
It was a striking display of brilliance really. But weirdly, pretty much every employee who left Jubilee House during that hour, walked the long way round to avoid it. The couple of people who took the path we were lined up along studiously stared at the floor. Fran, love her, started to invite people to view the display ‘They won’t jump out at you..’, she said to a couple of retreating backs.
Eventually, a few meeting attendees started to appear. Jan Fowler, from NHSE, and a commissioner came first, chatted with various people and with BBC Oxford. Then a few more attendees came and viewed the figures, took some photos and chatted. It was an odd experience really. Such intensity. Of horror and inhumanity, of colour and individuality, and of (some) avoidance. The meeting chair said ‘I will remember this’ as he left.
As we were about to leave, and the gingers were safely packed in the car, one employee who’d avoided looking on his way out, came back and asked what it was all about.
Just lives, really. And chilling inhumanity.
*There were so many more deaths than this, but here we focus on these.