Manchester and more

Been distracted by the emotional, physical and other work involved in changing jobs and leaving our beyond loved, comfy, tatty home of 20 years. Grubby, sticky finger prints, lego bits, detritus, memories invisibly tattooed in every space. Dust. Stuff.

Still. Job done. Belongings in storage in Southall. Currently in a rented flat 10 floors above central Manchester. Our lives involve scooping up Bess several times a day for a blitz around a newly landscaped area just off the Oxford Road. Trip tropping along a small section of the River Medlock, dodging diggers, picking up shit, passing the soon to reopen Fac251 and a long line of Ubers dropping off food to the students in the block opposite.

We roam the compact city in awe of the friendliness and vibrancy, density of buildings and building work, sights, sounds, smells, broken glass, canals, trams, buses. Manchester Met too is quite the revelation. Grounded, ambitious, enthusiastic, lively, committed. It feels a good fit. State school (first-generation university) hovering in exclusionary spaces can be uncomfortable despite good intentions.

Catching up with this week

I’m not sure what to write about learning disability related stuff this week. It feels suffocating. Reviews published documenting horror and brutality (again). Recommendations responded to in a woefully incoherent way by Helen Whatley, Minister for summat. Empty wordage?

Evidence around the ways in which people with learning disabilities have been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic (mirroring how they are disproportionately impacted more widely in life) continues to be published.

I sat in on a Court of Protection hearing earlier. 

A person with learning disabilities detained for over 20 years in an Assessment and Treatment Unit. [Can we ditch this nonsensical name for what are effectively prisons?] Ready for discharge in 2013 while a home – with stuff, memories, more memories and dust – has yet to be sorted. The unfolding hearing involved a stand-off between a well thought through plan for a home/support by a specialist provider working with the family, and business as usual cruelty by the other ‘interested’ parties. Including commissioners and NHS England and No Improvement.

The judge was an odd mix of righteous anger and irritation about the lack of progress, and apparent carelessness about the ongoing brutalisation of lives. [Paraphrasing] ‘I would have said this was glacial progress but recent global warming has made glacial movement faster. Do we have an end date in mind or an end of decade date…?’

The hearing leapt to discussion about an adjournment. No decision today. More information was needed. Eight years on. Diary talk. The end of October for one day. November for two days? Busy, important people. Would new witnesses need cross-examining? Yes.

X’s [sorry, (no) transparency order in place] parents sat in court, barely visible through the Microsoft Teams lens. Their mum fiddled with something throughout. A tissue? I almost can’t begin to imagine the pain of listening to a set of well oiled, privileged bods treat someone’s life as a thing to poke, prod, describe as clinical presentation and dismiss. And then of course I can. I well up again writing these words. Nine hours later. The sadness in listening is indescribable.

Towards the end of the hour, after (dis) interested parties talked about adjournment like the moving of a Hermes delivery, X’s mum spoke up. Disrupting the proceedings. The order. The power. Unruliness. A smirk from one counsel. Teams court unusually offering the view of the judge.

Her frustration, disbelief and despair were palpable. She asked how this delay was possible. She and her partner were in their late 70s and early 80s. They would be dead before their child was released and living in their own home. Their lives had been destroyed.


Adjourned to November 8-9.


4 thoughts on “Manchester and more

  1. So many layers of people – just not caring.

    I have been reading conversations on Twitter by SW’s sharing the mprovement idea of asking ‘clients’ what they felt went well in the SW / client contract.

    If this this relationship was operating at a mutually human level – (rather than as often – SW authority power platform meets a hopeful family who soon learn how to lose hope and gain distrust .- but behave ‘nice’ ) – would this question not soon be redundant?

    Would there be any need to ask ‘ how did I do’ as part of SW process?

    In recent weeks, post Coviid, L A”s are seeking where savings can be made. Reassessment of cost will figure..

    Fear – is never far away when a SW assesses the needs of LD people.

    Just over a decade ago many learning disabled people saw their services, day support in particular, taken. Assessments were imposed that had nothing at all to do with ‘good practice’ – or people. Number and cost was measured.

    Just one level of not caring.

    So many layers of not caring – and so many conscious separations – away from the bleak reality.

    How many levels of same were present in that court where the brutal incarceration of another mother and father’s beloved child was discussed in the abstract. Not even a leak of shared conscience . A shared – not caring. All far away from the ‘other’s – anguish and reality.

    All unconscious of their contribution to inhumanity.

    So much needs to change for our sons and daughters to be seen and treated as a fellow human.

    It might start with an open and honest discussion by all on – ‘ what did I – not – do well ‘?


  2. I also sat in on the hearing and I too was appalled by the lack of transparency about the well considered plan for the future of the person no one read the information or seemed interested in checking it out an Excel Spreadsheet of someone’s life, it was as if it was of no consequence at all, a life sentence for the person and a protracted trauma of gigantic proportions for the family members, off section for almost a decade and it was as if they were discussing an asset or commodity in a storage facility, which in effect I suppose this person is to those who do not care to understand how everyone’s life matters, I have sat in public galleries when studying for my law degree and witnessed more compassion for a murderer than was shown by the professionals in the hearing physical and virtual. My abject sadness for the aged parents broken by the disdain they endured. The Judge at one point fleetingly seeming empathetic and then back to the business end of it, all about the F&B ( funding and budget) no one questioned the circumstances ie the price on the persons head for the current unsuitable provision, an advocate seemingly not allowed to inform and explain that a cohesive well thought out plan was in place, yet it is now left to gather dust in an unknown corner very much like the person, a life on hold again until November and even then will anything change for the better…

  3. If we were talking about Tiddles the cat or Rover the dog being denied their freedom and a chance of a better way of life, social media would be afire with people demanding action. The public would be asking, nay, demanding, action NOW! Celebrities would be backing the cause and it would be fixed within days. What a disgrace that the larger society we live in care more about cruelty to animals than they do about cruelty to vulnerable human beings. Some of whom have no autonomy.

    What sort of law system would put loving elderly parents through such emotional torture. How absolutely shocking that their son is being denied a better way of life. Why drag this hearing on any longer. This is unbelievably cruel.

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