Day 77: Six degrees of separation #107days

Day 77 was adopted by Liz who has offered her thoughts on six degrees of separation, and how we can use it to support #107days and #JusticeforLB:

I started reading Sara’s blog after meeting her on Twitter through following somebody else who knew her. That is how Twitter works – we follow folk who follow other people we know and who we realise we have something in common with.

Sara was someone I wanted to know because I was doing PhD research around aspects of why the special needs domain is so problematic and I read some of her published work that resonated with me. In particular, she helped me with a minor dilemma when my PhD supervisor told me not to use the word ‘meltdown’ and Sara was able to point me to article she had written with ‘meltdown’ in the title.

As I read Sara’s blog, like many others, I was amused, challenged and inspired by her accounts of life with LB. When life got tricky, I was reminded of the struggles we had experienced with my son when we engaged in arm-wrestling with the authorities to get him the support he needed. My son was fortunate; he got a place in a specialist residential school where he was enabled to develop academically and personally. He is now living independently and studying for a foundation degree. But things could have been so very different when he was out of school and threatening to kill himself…

For LB and for Sara and her family things worked out differently. LB was a much loved young man who did not receive the care he was entitled to from those paid to care.

Last year, 4th of June marked the day of my PhD viva. It seemed appropriate to adopt the anniversary of that day as my contribution to #107days because if I hadn’t embarked on that postgraduate journey, I would perhaps never have met Sara and never heard of LB.

But on the other hand, I might have done. Some years ago somebody came up with the idea that if you take any two people on the earth, they are no more than six acquaintances apart – there is more about it on Wikipedia.


By Laurens van Lieshout (User:LaurensvanLieshout) (Own work) [GFDL ( or CC-BY-SA-3.0 ( via Wikimedia Commons

When I started to think about how to use today, I started thinking about who I knew that might not have heard about LB. What would happen if I told them LB’s story and asked them to pass it on to others? I started thinking about people I was no longer actively involved with, but I had known in the past and wrote a few letters – and I got some replies, including a couple from Bishops and one from a member of the House of Lords, each promising to speak to others.

So the challenge today to me – and to anybody reading this – is to go through our address books and identify people who we have spoken to about LB. They may be work colleagues (past and present), people we socialise with, former partners, whoever… Once we have a list of names, send an email, an LB postcard, a letter, a text – whatever is appropriate for that person – and tell them about LB, a much-loved young man who died a preventable death because those paid to care didn’t care. Then tell them about other folk, young and not so young, who suffer unnecessarily and about parents who worry about what will happen to their children if they are no longer able to care for them. Most importantly, tell them we can make a difference if we spread the word and demand change. Ask them to tell their friends, colleagues, neighbours and folk they meet in the pub or on the bus about LB and ask them to tell others too.

If we all tell somebody today about LB, we can get lots more people making a noise and demanding more caring and responsible support systems so that more young men like Connor Sparrowhawk don’t die. Let’s make sure Connor didn’t die for nothing! 

Over to you now. Get talking, emailing, sharing….

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