Simon’s downward pathway ending in his shocking abuse at Winterbourne View was a completely unnecessary and avoidable occurrence.

Having identified “trigger points” for Simon’s outbursts of difficult behaviour, the care company had asked for two additional hours of staff funding. They had been covering the cost themselves, but as a small company were unable to undertake this as a long-term commitment. We were forced – indeed we were threatened by forcible removal if we didn’t allow him to be taken to an Assessment Unit, despite it being 40 minutes away and removed from the area that Simon had grown up in.

His level of fear at unknown places and people must have been sky high. This unit was the first time that Simon experienced forcible restraint and we, his parents, were so outraged that we naively thought that the staff would be charged with assault.

We were quickly put straight and told that it was Simon’s fault and we were lucky that it wasn’t him being charged. So it began... Then another unit, then ultimately to the horrors that were Winterbourne View.  

By this time Simon was sectioned and things were totally out of our control legally. It proved impossible to find a solicitor with sufficient knowledge of the system to help and we were advised to sit it out, indeed we were powerless to do anything else. Whilst Simon was in Winterbourne View, his father (my ex-husband) unexpectedly and tragically died. We, his family believed that this was partly due to the stress of his son’s incarceration.  

Simon’s abuse has been well documented, but of course there will be much that we are unable to piece together. Suffice to say that the abuse was both emotional and physical and ultimately wore Simon down to a point that I no longer recognised the person that he had become. Visits were difficult; not only was I working but my husband was, at this point, dying of cancer having been very ill for many years.

I was able to take Simon out but not permitted to visit his room and he was brought downstairs to the family room when I arrived. The amazing Panorama team provided the catalyst that changed our lives. Now that his section three had been lifted, we were able to break Simon out from his confinement to return him to his care home , close by to me, where he had spent so many years.

Despite returning to familiar surroundings, the same staff who had cared for and loved Simon since he was 18 years old (at this point he was 35) and his own possessions around him, it quickly became apparent that Simon was broken, and not the same individual that had left two years previously. Unable to live with his peers, the house was separated to provide Simon with a small self-contained area. Sadly this didn’t really work either. The happy-go-lucky chap that had left us had returned as a confused, unhappy and understandably belligerent individual.  

A landmark moment for us all occurred when a lovely bungalow, in a quiet spot was identified as suitable for Simon. Originally a school caretaker’s house it was undergoing a conversion to become a supported living house when it was decided that it was not suitable for the original recipient. Unbelievably, it was actually in my home village and all his own staff could move with him. Some things are just meant to be! It has not been a bed of roses over the past five years since he moved. Having been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, a specialised consultant was hard to find. Though it’s been amazing how the money materialised to try to repair the damage done, but couldn’t be found for prevention.

Simon now has the best of care. His staff love him and don’t just care for him, some of them having been with him for over 20 years. He lives in a calm environment surrounded by people who know him and accept him into the community .

Simon stands indoors wearing a smart suit
Simon after getting the right support in the community.


A ring of protection has been thrown around him by good, understanding professionals and imaginative and creative carers, but I am always aware that this veneer is still paper thin and fragile. A change in funding, a staff change, any small thing has the ability to bring everything tumbling about our ears.

So even now ten years on, immeasurably damaged but still standing, we forge our path and move forwards into the future, thinking ourselves lucky that Simon has a future.

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