Better Pens Than Mine

This week I’ve been listening to Dickens again in my audiobooks. I listen when I wake up at night and get bored. Usually they send me back to sleep, but this time a passage woke me up instead.

It was this extract from The Old Curiosity Shop

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” Grandfather, what was that you told me? That if they knew what we were going to do, they would say that you were mad and part us? Grandfather, these men mean to carry us before some gentleman and have us taken care of and sent back.”
“How, dear Nelly, how? They will shut me up in a stone room, dark and cold, and chain me up to the wall, Nell – flog me with whips and never let me see thee more.,”

Dickens was writing in 1840.

This week in England, Thomas, 20 years old, died. He had learning difficulties and had been in an Assessment and Treatment Unit (ATU) miles from home. He had been abused by carers in the past and, when admitted as an emergency to hospital this week, had unexplained carpet burns on his back. His family had been desperately trying to enable him to be cared for in his own community, not separated from the people he loved.

This week a report was also published giving details of the thousands of people with learning difficulties kept in ATUs. Many far away from home, cut off from their families. Many existing year after year, never going into the outside world. Many, it gradually comes to light, ineptly and cruelly treated.

The report’s authors were writing in 2014. 

When I googled The Old Curiosity Shop one commentator described it as a melodrama, too exaggerated for reality…

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2 thoughts on “Better Pens Than Mine

  1. Glynis German

    I have never heard about ATUs before meeting you online. I am shocked but I am not surprised given the way the world is heading -backwards in a lot of respects,. And not least when people do their jobs that they don’t particularly like and with no heart. Thanks for sharing.

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    1. wisegrannie Post author

      Hi Glynis. I had only heard vaguely until I started following Sara’s blog mydaftlife.com. Since then I got involved in JusticeforLB, campaigning against the institutionalisation of the Learning Disabled (and the elderly)in the UK today. It’s a perfect storm. Minimum wage “carers” in profit orientated businesses competitively bidding to provide “care” services. As you say – we seem to be moving backwards. No place for hippy dreams in the Brave New World!

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