The Change.org petitions were delivered to the deputy Prime Minister and leader of the opposition at 10 Downing Street yesterday (24 March) by parents Lynne McCarrick, Leo Andrade, Phill Wills, Nina Ni and Ann Early.
All the signatories support the parent’s call for the next Government to bring their children home from assessment and treatment units.
Ann Early, whose son Simon faced abuse at Winterbourne View, has asked the Prime Minister David Cameron, and the other party leaders, to take responsibility for making sure that national government, local government and the NHS keep their promise to move people with a learning disability out of units like Winterbourne View.
Ann and Simon shared their story as part of Mencap’s Hear My Voice campaign, which is supporting people with a learning disability and their families to tell election candidates about the issues they want to see action on in the next parliament.
The delivery of the petitions followed the families’ joining an All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) event where NHS England Chief Executive, Simon Stevens addressed MPs and Peers about the commitment he’s made to close institutions and support people with a learning disability to live in the community.
Mencap’s President Lord Rix, who has been hugely influential in the campaign to bring people with a learning disability home from inappropriate units, was present at the APPG.
Lord Rix said:
Ever since BBC Panorama exposed the horrific abuse at Winterbourne View, myself and friends in both the Commons and the Lords have together with Mencap been working hard to keep the matter high on the political agenda so that we help people with a learning disability who are trapped in similar units get back into their communities.
There is still a great amount of work to be done and we will continue to shout loudly so that the next Government, whoever they may be, picks up the mantel – until all people with a learning disability are supported to live independent lives in their communities together with their friends and families.
Leo Andrade, mother of Stephen, said:
To the next government I would say please, please keep driving this work forward. Find ways for people to keep their families together, where the child is in a loving environment where they belong
Phill Wills, whose 13-year-old son Josh has now been in a unit 250 miles away from his family home in Cornwall for a year, added:
For Josh, our whole family and our 241,000 supporters, delivering our petition to Number 10 Downing Street today marked the end of our first year - a year that has seen non-stop campaigning and heartfelt support to get Josh's voice heard.
But our work isn't done. Josh still isn't home. The wheels are turning slowly but we need to keep going and make sure this isn't all for nothing. We must make sure that Josh and every other person who is stuck in a unit gets what they have a right to - a family life and a place to call home.
Leo Andrade’s 20-year-old son Stephen was stuck in an assessment and treatment unit for two years, where he was not allowed outside and was on a mix of inappropriate drugs.
To the next government I would say please, please keep driving this work forward. Find ways for people to keep their families together, where the child is in a loving environment where they belong – and if that isn’t enough, remember it’s actually cheaper than keeping our children in units. They don’t belong in these places where no one can possibly care for them as we do.