Better when we’re together!

Yesterday was a good day. Yesterday felt like something positive could begin to happen!

Yesterday we held a “round table” meeting of interested parties about an idea we had to support families who have a relative in a short term assessment and treatment centre. It’s an idea we (Oxfordshire Family Support Network -Oxfsn) had some time ago, after the Panorama  documentary about the abuse at Winterbourne View but, was further ignited by recent events in Oxfordshire, involving a family and a young man close to our hearts. Those of you familiar with my dear friend’s blog  and understand her circumstances will know of the hell they’ve been through.

Yesterday was a chance to try to start something positive. And, although my shock and anger about Winterbourne view started long before recent events if I’m honest here, for me, it’s a bit personal too. For me this project is also now about creating some kind of legacy for a young “dude” who I watched grow up, who my kids grew up with…and who we all loved and cared about.

I’ve listened to and read about all the “post Winterbourne” stuff but there is nothing “post” about it…it’s still happening. People with learning disabilities are still in these places and families are still being sidelined, deemed “difficult” or simply irrelevant because their child is now an adult…the Mental Capacity Act used (wrongly) as a way of excluding them and a stick to beat them with .  Something has to change!

Yesterday a group of influential, informed and high profile people (in the learning disability world) got together and discussed what was needed. The discussion and our ideas are completely based on what the families who have been through this experience or who are in the middle of it are saying they need.

Consensus was that as families we’re pretty sick of all talk no action …. No more research needed, no more focus groups or interviews …let’s just get on with it. Now we really need some action. We know what’s needed it’s the working out the how to do it!

Yesterday felt like the start of something good. I started to get excited about an hour or so into the meeting when the word “We” was used. “We” need to do this… “We should do that” and “We need to talk to this (or that) person” I’ve always like partnership working and collaborative working.

Collaboration, shared values, collective action and a “let’s do this” attitude is what’s needed and as a glass half full person I’d like to believe it’s enough. The reality of course is that a complete culture change needs to happen too and that really doesn’t change overnight. As my good friend and colleague Liz said in a recent blog about Personalisation Those of us who work to change the world are an impatient bunch, change can’t come soon enough. That fire in our bellies drives us on.”

I posted a video on Facebook the other night. It’s a short film I’d used at a recent presentation about families and people with learning disabilities. The aim was to show people that even though our kids our adults now they are part of a family, were kids once and to us, their mums, they will always be our babies, however old they are. This feels like a good time to share it here. Not only can you finally hear that infectious laugh I’ve talked about in this blog but the words of the song used say it all.

We really are better when we’re together …and I have a “fire in my Belly” right now!


About Oxfordshire Family Support Network

Oxfordshire Family Support Network (OxFSN) is a not-for-profit organisation run by and for family carers of people with learning disabilities – both children and adults. Oxfordshire Family Support Network (OXFSN) was set up in 2007 by family carers who wanted to use their experience to help others in the same situation, based on our belief that family carers are experts by their lived experience.
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