Care and Support Minister Norman Lamb will be visiting a former Winterbourne View patient at his new home in Taunton today.

Sam Sollars was a patient at the private hospital near Bristol, when the abuse of people with a learning disability was uncovered by BBC Panorama in June 2011.

Learning disability charity Mencap has worked closely with families to make sure institutions such as Winterbourne View are closed down permanently. 

Sam now lives in his own flat within a specialist autism residential care service run by Homes Caring for Autism, helping him to develop the skills he needs to live as independently as possible. Sam has made great progress since being removed from an institutional environment and his next step would be to rent his own flat out in the community, with appropriate support.

Steve Sollars, Sam’s father, campaigned heavily for justice following the airing of the BBC Panorama programme. He says:

It's great to see the minister Norman Lamb going out of his way to listen to parents like me. It's important for him to meet people like my son Sam, who was in Winterbourne View, to see how well he can do with the right care.

By now, health and care commissioners should have reviewed the care of all these individuals and agreed a plan for each person involving them and their families.

Commissioners must ensure that individuals who are still in assessment and treatment centres are moved into more appropriate settings in the community, with good plans for person centred care, no later than 1 June 2014.

Care and Support Minister Norman Lamb said:

I am looking forward to meeting Sam, and seeing the progress he has made with the right care and support.

What happened at Winterbourne View was shocking and we have to make sure that we have the right policies, practices and culture in place to root out bad care and treat people with learning disabilities with the respect they deserve.  

We are making good progress and by next June all people with learning disabilities or autism and ‘challenging behaviour’ placed in hospital settings, will have had their needs reviewed and will be given support to help them back into the community or the right place for them.

Richard Smith, Managing Director and founder, Homes Caring for Autism Ltd, where Sam now lives, said:

Many lessons have been learned from Winterbourne View. It’s also important to know that there are many fantastic person centred residential care and supported living services where, through specialist knowledge and dedicated, hard-working staff, individuals such as Sam can safely enjoy their lives.

Mencap and the Challenging Behaviour Foundation want to see all people with a learning disability and behaviour which challenges getting the right support.

Simon Parkinson, director for external relations and communities at Mencap says:

We welcome the Minister's commitment to the issue and his commitment to hold to account any local areas that don't meet their obligations. All local councils need to provide the support that people with a learning disability and behaviour that challenges need to realise their right to live fully integrated lives in the community, like Sam.


Out of sight is a campaign report by Mencap and the Challenging Behaviour Foundation and tells the stories of James, Chrissy, Joe, Emmanuel and Victoria. In the report, their families talk about the terrible neglect and abuse their loved ones have experienced in institutions like Winterbourne View, often far away from home.

Mencap and The Challenging Behaviour Foundation are two of the voluntary organisations who have been asked to sign a Concordat agreement with the Department of Health, to hold the Government to account. 

The charities will continue to campaign for change over the next two years, as well as give support to families fighting to bring their loved ones home. 

Notes to editors

For further information or to arrange interviews, please contact the Mencap press office on 0207 696 6010 or

About Mencap

There are 1.5 million people with a learning disability in the UK.

Mencap works to support people with a learning disability and their families and carers by fighting to change laws and improve services and access to education, employment and leisure facilities.

Mencap supports thousands of people with a learning disability to live their lives the way they want. 

What is a learning disability?

A learning disability is a reduced intellectual ability and difficulty with everyday activities – for example household tasks, socialising or managing money – which affects someone for their whole life.

People with a learning disability tend to take longer to learn and may need support to develop new skills, understand complex information and interact with other people.

The level of support someone needs depends on individual factors, including the severity of their learning disability.