It's been a couple of weeks since I last posted with our 'news' and I just wanted to say a huge thank you. There's so much comfort to be had from the shared indignation and disgust at what has gone on. There's a whole lot more I want to say, but can't as yet... I've been overwhelmed with the offers of support though, and am slowly (make that incredibly slowly) working through all the emails and messages. Thank you so, so much. On the whole The Boy appears to be doing well, although I do worry what goes on beneath the surface. The other day I cut his fingernails despite his protests, the first time in months they haven't been bitten and chewed away, so I'll take that as a good sign at least. I will update on the situation as and when I can.
It's very hard highlighting shoddy or poor care in our schools and care homes, since in some ways it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy - a sector that already suffers from low staff morale, poor retention rates and salaries far too close to the minimum wage. It's a difficult balance to get right - there are far, far too many cases of abusive, outdated practices that it can't be overlooked and not talked about, yet in doing so it feels like we're snubbing and even worse, endangering, some of the genuinely outstanding care being delivered day in and out by people with an absolute love and dedication for what they do. (Oh, and Mr Ofsted, I mean 'outstanding' in the true definition of the word, not in your soiled version where it's just about how pretty the filing system is where the policies and procedures are kept).
And so, in the interest of balance, I thought I'd make the rest of this blog an advertorial for decent people. Of which there are many. We'll start with Annette and Tracey from Express CIC, not least because they'll squirm reading about themselves the most. I've written before about Express, and their goal to create a 'hub' in the community for those with autism and their families and carers. Well, a few weeks ago their goal moved a step closer when they moved into their first office. Me and The Boy went along to visit them - parking is a bit of an issue, the front door needs to be made accessible, they've got no signage, there's a whole load of jobs to be done. But inside it's as warm and friendly as you can hope for. They've started running their first drop-in advice clinics, and they looked all grown up sitting behind their donated desks with the one computer between the two of them. It's taken them months of sheer determination, all on a voluntary basis, to get this far. After so many knockbacks I'd have thrown the towel in long ago, but they just keep going through seemingly endless bureaucracy. It sounds so patronising and I don't know how else to say it, but I'm so proud of everything they've achieved, because I know just how much effort it's taken. The Boy was very impressed with the office when we visited, not least because it had wi-fi and biscuits. He liked meeting Annette and Tracey too, but I should apparently have informed him in advance that "one of them was small"...
Express are desperate for funds, and one way to help them out is with the Aviva community fund - it costs nothing, you just need to register to vote. As I'm my usual last minute self at writing this, the last day you can vote for them is today (Saturday May 30th). They currently have half the votes of an organisation who want to dredge the local pond, which probably says more about our society than I'd like it to. Please, give them a vote, if only to stop them emailing me. You can 'like' Express on facebook here, and follow them on twitter here. They're brilliant, and so are you for supporting them. Oh, and they've got a comedy night on June 18th to raise funds too. Details here. I'll shut up about them now...
One final shout out for decent people, then I promise I'll go back to slagging everyone off again... The #LBBill is making ground, and with a Private Members Bill ballot due on Thursday June 4th, they're asking everyone to write to their local MP before then to express their support. The more MPs that can be reached the better. If you're unsure what to say, or how to get in touch with them, here's some help here. Please try to find the time over the weekend to send an email or tweet your support.
Thank you so much, to decent people everywhere. We're going away for a week or so to spend some time with family - the beauty of Dad's School is that the holidays are pretty flexible. I promise I'll update you with the good times x
This blog is about bringing up The Boy. He's 12 years old and autistic. It's written by The Dad. It's my words, my view. Other people will think differently and have different opinions. Good.