Week 14: The return of the #JusticeforLB flag #Glasto2015 #107days

Week 14 is the week of Glastonbury and the return of the #JusticeforLB flag. Today’s post is written by the Lawthom-Goodleys, Dan, Rebecca, Ruby and Rosa, and we share it as they make their way to Glastonbury. Keep your eyes peeled for them and do share your pics #JusticeforLB #107days.

Glasto14

Going to festivals is one of our family’s true loves. We love the mess, the carnage, and the mass humanity of these places. And the cider is not bad too. Glastonbury is, of course, the mother of all festivals and we have managed, luckily, to get our Northern souls down south for a number of years. For the majority of those trips our main concern, prior to driving the long trip down from Yorkshire to Glasto, has been the weather. You see, we don’t mind the rain. But if it pisses down all the time, everyday, without respite, then it can be very hard work (to say the least). We find rain and latex tend to go badly together. But less about our party outfits. This year, our main concerns are two-fold.

First, we are worried about our flagpole: does it boast the endurance and flexibility to last the hours of use of an extended weekend? The reason for our initial worry? Well, the latest flagpole incarnation (bought from the reasonably priced and well stocked Pontypridd Caravan and Camping – Google it) has the huge responsibility of hosting the JusticeforLB flag. The great dude’s flag and face found fame at last year’s Glasto: meeting many festival revelers and getting posted on the front page of the BBC Glastonbury website. In a tiny way we were able to contribute to the wondrous – though of course totally unacceptable to have to happen in the first place – JusticeforLB campaign. We were able to share LB’s story with total strangers. We found ourselves in some important conversations with Glasto goers. Not one person showed disinterest. Not one person suggested to us that we were ruining their hedonistic time off from work. Each and everyone we spoke to wanted to know about LB’s story. And they were on side. And, when they said their goodbyes, they were happy to shake hands or hug and agree with the social justice that the campaign was (and still is) seeking.

But this leads us to our second concern as we return this year: a quandary over explanation. How do we possibly explain the incredibly insensitive, depoliticized and inhuman lack of institutional response to LB’s death? A year on from the JusticeforLB campaign and now into a new campaign that pushes for the LBBill (amongst other things), how do we explain to our newfound Glastonbury friends (ok, maybe acquaintances and some of them inebriated at that) that we are still now, in June 2015, seeking justice for LB and his family? Moreover, how do we put across to people that LB’s life remains violently under-valued by institutional lack of responsibility and accountability? That replies from MPs to campaigners’ requests to support the bill are carbon copy party written responses?  How do we push the agenda as far as it should go: that people with learning disabilities continue to be considered as less than human in our society?  And, here is the nagging anxiety, how easy will it be to push the message of JusticeforLB that disabling society needs to change NOW: especially when so many of us are still trying to get our heads around the fact that loads of people (ok, mostly in England) voted for a government regime that is putting #austerityasideology before the real needs of all citizens? How do we articulate the key message of the campaign: Justice for all the dudes and dudettes?

We think we can address the first concern. We have bought the flagpole from South Wales so, as Rebecca rightly reminds us, the quality will be second to none. Furthermore, this year we will make sure that we don’t ask a total stranger to hold the flagpole for five minutes while we pop to the washroom (an hilarious euphemism for any loo at Glasto). They might drop it. And then scarper; leaving the pole on the ground by the John Peel stage (just before Clean Bandit) only to be found on our return. Like last year. Tossers. So, for this year, only members of the Jones, Hopkins, Dennis and Lawthom-Goodley families are entrusted with that job and the following clear instruction: hold the bloody flag steady (and do not let it waver) nor give it to someone who pretends to like Clean Bandit (or worse, Paul Weller). Or else, we will steal your dry poncho (or even worse not buy you cheesy chips later).

The second concern is trickier to address. But here is an initial idea. We will start the process of chatting about #JusticeforLB and the #LBBill by the Tony Benn Tower in the old Left Field stage. This is a wonderful space – the truly sacred space of the festival – an ideal location for a discussion. A chat. And a dialogue that seeks not to be throwaway but tricky, shitty, difficult and emotional. But fundamentally a conversation about what it means to be valued as a human being.  Never have we missed Tony more than on the day after the 2015 election result. His clarity of expression about equality and the need to contest oppression has been conspicuous in its absence. We reckon that Mr Benn would have been a huge supporter of LB’s campaign and his legacy. And so we will start our meetings with Glastonbury right there by the Left Field stage that Tony always owned like the rock star that he truly was. In dreamland we would, of course, find ourselves hearing the background noise of The Divine Comedy playing a secret set…  but we are getting ahead of ourselves.

So, please look out for coverage on the BBC: to see LB again flying the flag for social justice. And of course, keep writing to those MPs. And ask for bespoke responses. Surely a little humility from them will not go a miss.

And the good news is this… we have decided that the general forecast for Glasto is going to be absolutely wonderful. We are expecting tropical conditions: all day and everyday of the festival.

We’ll let you know how we get on.

#JusticeforLB

Dan, Rebecca, Ruby and Rosa

xxxx

Day 60: 107 red balloons #107days

Day 60 was adopted by Beck from Frog Orange. At 3pm this afternoon everyone is welcome to join them at Shotover (at the top by the car park) to release 107 red balloons in memory of LB. Here’s what Beck had to say about why she wanted to support #JusticeforLB and the #107days campaign:

I wanted to adopt a day as part of the #JusticeforLB campaign for a number of reasons. I started reading Sara’s blog a few months before Connor was admitted to the treatment and assessment unit. I enjoyed Sara’s writing, her photography, her sense of humour.

I enjoyed reading about her musings about her family life and the little community we share. It was the only blog I ever requested to have emailed to my inbox. Naturally after Connor was admitted some of Sara’s entries made for really tough reading. I’ll never forget reading the few words she wrote on July 4th 2013. The horror, sickness and sadness I felt was so powerful.

I can not imagine the pain that Connor’s family and buddies are going through.

I was appalled by the non care that Connor received.

I was astonished how Sara and her family were treated during his stay.

I was horrified that Connor was allowed and left to drown in these circumstances.

And I have been disgusted by the way NHS Southern Health have behaved since.

I know Sara and Rich a little, we’ve hung out socially a few times and they have been customers (at Frog Orange) for years. Rich used to come in with Connor, his brothers and sister. He used to carefully herd them around the shop helping them spend their Christmas money.

One of the main reasons for taking part in this campaign is because if you know Sara and Rich at all, you know what utterly fabulous parents they are. They are just so bloody good at the whole parenting thing. It is just TOO cruel that they cared so well for Connor along with his brothers and sister, and within 107 days in the unit, he was gone.

So why balloons? Well, I don’t write a blog that anyone reads and so many wonderful people have written such powerful pieces in defence of Connor and his family. I thought maybe something visual would be good. A little time out in the fresh air thinking about the sunshine that LB brought to his family and friends. And if somebody finds a tag with #107days #JusticeforLB they might google it and spread the word. Let’s hope so.

Day60_107redballoons

Just to be completely transparent (it’s a style we’re deeply committed to), we had a comment on our post and facebook page from Vicky who was worried about the environmental impact of releasing balloons. It is something we have considered, and decided the risks are worth taking, you can read the discussion here.

Please do come along if you’re in the Oxford area and would like to join us and please do share any photos on twitter with the #JusticeforLB and #107days hashtags. Thank you.

Postscript

The super talented Izzi Crowther decided to produce an adaptation of Nena’s 99 red balloons for LB. So much love and so much awesome, here’s to the dude:

You and I, and the Frog Orange shop
Buy a bag of balloons with the love we’ve got
Set them free at 3 o’clock
‘Til one by one, they were gone…

One-oh-seven red balloons
Floating in the summer sky
Connor Co’s aerobus fleet
Go tell everyone you meet

One-oh-seven Shotover Park
One-oh-seven dogs will bark
Lorry lorry super-scurry
Call the troops out in a hurry

One-oh-seven knights of the air
Riding super high-tech jet fighters
LB is a super hero
LB is like Captain Kirk

With orders to identify, to clarify and classify
Scrambling in the summer sky
As 107 balloons go by
107 red balloons go by

107 dreams we’ve had
Every one a red balloon
It’s all over and we’re standin’ pretty
Overlooking Connor’s city

If I could find a souvenir
Just to prove LB was here
And here is a red balloon
I think of you and let it go