22nd Day of Lent: Going without… family life and school

Cuts mean no school

Elizabeth writes:

“I live with my parents and younger brother in rural Norfolk.

During the summer last year, my older brother, who is under the care of the Youth Team came back to live with us, following problems with his land-lady.

During early December, we had to call the police out, and then, in mid-December, my brother overdosed and ended up in A&E.

He was visited at 5 p.m. the next day, by his Case Manager and a more senior member of staff. Both our parents were there. My parents were told that as my brother has ‘learning difficulties’ he could not have a psychiatric assessment. He was sent home. Because mum did not think it was safe for my younger brother and I to be at home when my older brother came back, we went to stay with family more than fifty miles away.

My younger brother, a teenager, missed two weeks of school because of everything that happened over Christmas and the New Year.

In early January, my older brother attacked our parents. The police were called, and mum and dad said that they would not allow him back in the house. All through November and December, mum and dad were told that the mental health service couldn’t help my brother, and that because he has learning difficulties, he shouldn’t even be under their care. They said that the only way to get him out of the house, to allow my younger brother and I to return home, was to make my older brother homeless.

My younger brother and I spent the week up to Christmas staying with family, then came home for a few days, before my younger brother went back to stay with family. I was so scared over this time, and my own mental health, which wasn’t great to begin with, began to deteriorate further.”

It is shocking to think that labelling a person ‘learning disabled’ might be used as an excuse not to offer mental health services to this family. A young person with mental health problems and a learning disability can be extremely vulnerable and if the Youth Team was not the right team for him he needed to be safely transferred into the care of the learning disabilities team before services were withdrawn. To tell the family that services ‘can’t help’ and ‘to make the vulnerable person homeless’ in order to allow the younger siblings to return home is, if true, callous and extremely unprofessional. This vulnerable young man needed help, his siblings have a right to a family life and education and his parents should not be subjected to assault in their own home.

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