Get Brandon home for Christmas
As Christmas approaches, television is awash with adverts picturing families enjoying happy time together. Yet for many people with learning disabilities this idealised picture of a family Christmas is far away from their reality. Too many people with learning disabilities are being ‘cared for’ in unsuitable and inappropriate settings when, with the right support, they could be living happily with their families.
We were shocked and saddened to learn about the case of Brandon Reid whose family are fighting for him to be returned to the family home from his current placement in a care home. The family have set up a petition in the hope of persuading social services to get Brandon out of this specialist housing and back to his family home for Christmas. Brandon has the label of Asperger's Syndrome and, according to his mother, Helena, is a much loved son and brother. Helena has spoken of her outrage at Brandon being forcefully removed from the family home by 12 police officers after Brandon had left his care home to visit his family. The family are now locked in a fight with Brandon's social work team who insist he is not ready to come home. Sadly, Brandon’s story is not unique. We are reminded of a number of high profile cases where families have complained that their children and young disabled people have been taken away from them against the wishes of the families and young people. A recurring complaint from families is the lack of responsive respite, social care and housing for people with learning disabilities. Too many people with learning disabilities are being ‘cared for’ in unsuitable and inappropriate settings such as Assessment and Treament units and other settings when, with the right support they could be living happily with their families. Brandon’s story is sadly yet another story of the poor support given to people with learning disabilities in British society.
At times, like all young people, people with learning disabilities and their families might require additional support. Growing up brings with it a number of challenges. But we know that austerity cuts to essential services are putting young people at risk at precisely the same time that our communities are exhibiting increased incidences of hate crime. Our research found that with the right support people with learning disabilities can be active and valued members of their local communities.
Brandon should be living with those who love him. Unfortunately, in these times of austerity, these loving relationships and community risk being eroded.