Day 55: Connecting voices #107days

Day 55 was adopted by Paradigm and friends, with an excellent write up being provided by Sally Warren, Jayne Knight and Nan Carle. You can read about their day in full in this attached pdf.

Head heart hands

The day was spent in a community workshop, facilitated by Paradigm and Nan Carle, which focused on connecting the voices of people from around the country to highlight injustices, share thoughts and agree action to stop the crazy, ill thought out decisions that prevent people living valued, ordinary lives. Lives with their family and in their community. In a community space, passionate people (family members, self advocates, researchers, support workers and community members) met for a series of conversations, which lead to a commitment to personal action and to new alliances to ensure collective action.

Group 1

A family who are also fighting for their son/brother, currently in an institution and his voice lost, were part of the workshop. The whole family are in danger of being alienated from the life of their son. They shared their personal story giving a real understanding, credence, strength and power to the need to resolve the abuse and neglect experienced by LB, his family and others.

The workshop was structured around five conversations:

1) How did LB’s story touch me personally, at work and at home?

One of the overriding feelings shared in the group was one of shock and dismay that people are so de-humanised and invisible. The family present explained how they themselves feel like the ‘invisible family, like ghosts’. People’s feeling are reflected in the images created in this montage.

Thoughts and feelings montage

2) What concerns does this bring forward for me, at home and at work?

As you can imagine participants shared a lots of concerns.

The key concerns were:

  • safeguarding systems that isolate people. Where members of the public, families and staff are raising concerns but not being heard. ‘We have a system in place to check people are safe and well, we have followed it so…all must be OK’. Dangerous!
  • complacency: what is it that makes it seem OK to offer a low standard of care? The idea of ‘acceptable rather than best’ is live and kicking…how can this be?!
  • a limited understanding by many of what good support is about and the need to go beyond minimum standard and compliance
  • about language. For people who are not labelled we would use the language of violence, abuse and neglect. Why do we use ‘cuddly language’ when it comes to people who are labelled? A Mum in the group was forbidden from using the word abuse!

3) What resources are present which would help us find real solutions to ensure ordinary, meaningful lives for all?

Creativity, connection and the knowledge of AND belief in what is possible are the resources we all bring. We must get ‘smarter’ at recognising and sharing the range of resources around us all. People, community, families, social groups, skills exchanges, agencies and more. This conversation stimulated more and more resources and ideas. Ideas that people hadn’t all considered (see full write up for more detail).

4) Personal commitments to action

Connecting Our Voices directly links to connecting our action, or as we said our ‘passion for action’. Each and everyone of us as a part to play in ensuring the LB’s life and death is not forgotten. People’s commitments to action were varied with people feeling able to contributes in different way but the message was that whatever you can do is important.

5) Shared action

As is typical at the end of a day in a room filled of passionate people determined to be part of a better future, time started running out!  We have created a network to stay connected to ensure mutual support and action. The three areas of collective action identified with initial connections and ideas in place were in relation to: 

  1. collective action to make people aware of what is possible
  2. family support
  3. housing for all

At the end of the day we are puzzled, concerned and angry but the fire in our belly against injustice has been stoked. We’ve made new connections and restored our passion for action and our hearts and minds are connected!

LB was with the group throughout the day with a symbolic empty chair. We are grateful to them for sharing his memory and working together to ensure that improvements happen. There will be a full write up on the Paradigm website in due course and we’ll add a link here when it is available.

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