Getting away with murder; and why it should not happen

Photo credit: USA-Reiseblogger available free on Pixabay

Like all of our community, we are deeply saddened by the death of an Autistic child whose mother has been subsequently charged for his murder.

The greater tragedy surrounding the murder of this little boy is that it is unfortunately far from being an isolated case. This is rarely reported in mainstream news, and all too often when it is, the blame is laid at the feet of the murder victim as a burden to society.

This victim blaming culture is most visible on social media, where people flock to express their sympathy and empathy for the perpetrator, raising them to the status of a martyr. Phrases such as “mercy killing”, “they are in a better place”, and “what else could they do?” flood our newsfeeds, while the Disabled community’s voice is dismissed as “not understanding how hard it is to be the parent of a severely Disabled Child”.

Disabled people are parents too. Generations of families live with severe genetic conditions, many of which are hereditary and vary in their severity of their presentation. We are quite aware of “how hard it is to be the parent of a severely Disabled Child”.

At Autistic UK, we believe we echo our community’s voice in condemning these insidious attitudes often voiced by those who are not parents of Disabled Children.

Our current societal culture has developed the ability to see Disability as a reasonable excuse for murder. The pervasive view that the caregiver has no other choice needs to stop. There are always choices; even the perceived failure of giving up your child is preferable to murder. Murder is never acceptable.

We would suggest that other options include:

Seeking professional help:

  • taking the child to hospital
  • taking the child to a police station
  • taking the child to a fire station
  • taking the child to social services
  • dialling 999 if you feel you are about to harm your child
  • calling your GP and telling them you can’t cope
  • contacting disability charities and their associated support networks

These services and routes all lead to a Safeguarding Duty. Everybody in the public sector has responsibility under this duty. Duty holders must act in the best interests of the child.

Informal help:

  • seeking help on social media and/or websites – there are lots of support groups out there whose members will have similar difficulties
  • family and friends
  • contacting disability charities and their associated support networks
  • finding a local support group
  • open your web browser on any device and search “help with <insert name of disability>” – there will be a number of results providing details of support networks

Where specific support organisations don’t exist, there is always Unique, a Charity dedicated to supporting families of children with extremely rare genetic conditions.

For further information about this, please visit https://blog.theautismsite.greatergood.com/caregiver-murder/.

 

If you are distressed or affected by  the issues discussed in this statement, you may wish to contact one of the following support helplines:

Samaritans: Telephone 116 123

Shout: Text “Shout” to 85258

Papyrus: Hopeline UK Telephone 0800 068 41 41

National Domestic Abuse Helpline: Telephone 0808 2000 247

Childline: Telephone 0800 1111 (they also take calls from adults concerned about a child)

Cruise Bereavement: Telephone 0808 808 1677

Most of these organisations also have a chat function on their websites. In order to maintain your confidentiality, many of their telephone numbers will not show up on statements and may not be traced back to them in your call logs. You can find details of this on their websites.

Statement regarding the ‘Oliver McGowan Mandatory Learning Disability and Autism training’

This article was written collaboratively by Julian Morgan and Kat Williams

To start, Autistic UK would like to add a grateful acknowledgement of ALL those of us who have been pushing, campaigning and demanding formal learning disability and autism training to be nationally available. The announcement made today that all health and social care staff in England will receive mandatory autism training is the outcome we were all rooting and campaigning for, and is – on the surface – a huge step in the right direction.

But as ever, the execution from the NHS and Government never fails to disappoint.

Though medics may not be required to take the Hippocratic Oath, the statement “first do no harm” should still apply. The Oath was replaced by the General Medical Council’s (GMC) “duties as a doctor,” which many universities use as part of their medical graduation ceremonies as a ‘pledge’ to uphold, and all doctors must adhere to.

Now the Autistic community in England (not the UK as headlines suggest) finds out the ONLY autism related organisation that will be implementing ‘Oliver McGowan Mandatory Learning Disability and Autism training for all health and social care staff’, as announced, is one which has a history of exploiting those Autistics who contributed to its past online training packages. It’s also rather short of paid Autistic employees too; unpaid ‘volunteers’ and ambassadors it has in multitude. Other contributors include learning disability charities – all of which are parent focused or led – and this news has sparked a high level of concern within the Autistic community.

The “duties as a doctor” states that medics should “Never abuse your patients’ trust in you or the public’s trust in the profession.” Handing a training contract over to a parent-focused charity with such an atrocious history of death and neglect in their own care homes has deftly broken that trust in one fell swoop.

Medics must “Listen to, and respond to, their concerns and preferences,” yet they refuse to listen to the Autistic community who, for years, have been telling them that training should be directed and delivered by Actually Autistic people who have lived experience. The NHS employs lived experience advisers in many areas, yet autism seems to be a category in which “mother knows best.”

One of our Directors – who also sits on the NHSE Advisory group on Learning Disability and Autism – was promised that the NHS-wide training on autism and Autistic people would be co-produced and developed by lived experience advocates. Were they actually listening, or just saying things they thought we would like to mollify us?

They promised that what we referred to as ‘The Usual Suspects’ would not be their go-to choice for autism as they were heavily biased in their experience towards learning disabilities, and had no real experience of Autistic people other than ‘as learning disabled’ and were wedded to the medical model of care.

‘NO!’ they said, ‘Local implementation! Lived experience all through. Not all learning disability charities doing it…’

Despite promises to stop the standard practice of treating Autistic people as learning disabled, we now have a selection of learning disability service organisations telling medics and care staff what Autistic people need, without any meaningful Autistic consultation or input. We asked for separate, independent, Autistic advocates and organisations to be included in designing the bid and training, yet the infantilising of Autistic people (especially those with learning disabilities) means that it is presumed we are unable to know what we need and desire, let alone deliver this training ourselves. Of course, our betters know better than we do about what Autistics want.

The NHS has broken its pledge that ‘lived experience advisors will be used in all decision making and implementation processes in all areas.

What happened to Nothing About Us Without Us?

The chances of Autistic people who do not “toe the line” with the service provider in question contributing to this massively important work, has basically slipped to zero. Thanks NHS and Government. Notice how Autistics do not even make the headline on this official announcement from a national provider to the Care Industry?

The GMC’s duties of a doctor also states that they must “Work with colleagues in the ways that best serve patients’ interests.” We’re going to go a little off the path with this one, but realistically colleagues does not solely include other doctors. This includes the trainers, the administrators, the managers etc. Working with trainers who have demonstrated that they do not serve Autistic patients’ interests, yet again, goes against this ethical guidance.

Medics must also “Protect and promote the health of patients and the public.” They cannot protect the health of Autistic patients while simultaneously working with an organisation which has actively harmed Autistics, particularly as they then attempted to cover up said harm. Do they think we have forgotten Mendip House? Forgotten the cover up? This is especially pertinent as the NHS and Government’s working relationship involves them teaching medics and care staff how to better care for a portion of society they harm.

How do you feel about an organisation that still sends schoolchildren to secure units and ATUs telling care staff how to look after autistic children and adults?

An organisation that uses and promotes ABA and PBS for all? (If you don’t know why that’s a bad thing, please read this article written by Kat Williams on her site)

Have you forgotten the whistle-blower(s) and the denials of responsibility?

Do they think we have forgotten the abuse?

Does their track-record demonstrate that they’re up of this job? That further deaths will be prevented?

This is the organisation that will now train others to care for YOUR loved ones. A fine example of vanity and hubris above and beyond the call.

This organisation veils itself using the Social Model of Disability in its public image, yet follows the Medical Model of Disability behind closed doors. The thought of an organisation that treats the Autistic community as an income stream is not representative of that community. Its unwillingness to advance the Autistic cause through meaningful coproduction (rather than public-facing tokenism) is chilling. This is an organisation that practices ABA (as are the others which are involved). This organisation incarcerates children and abuses its charges. The NHS has already had ABA/PBS snuck through the back door through the Transforming Care Programme, and this new contract will see systems that Autistics have been campaigning to reform move back into behaviour-led thinking led by organisations whose training will be coloured by their own negative opinions.

The GMC code also states that medics must “Take prompt action if [they] think that patient safety, dignity or comfort is being compromised.”

Therefore, to the NHS and Government, we invite you to take prompt action now. Your Autistic patients’ safety, dignity and comfort are all being compromised with this union.

“You are personally accountable for your professional practice and must always be prepared to justify your decisions and actions…” Can you justify this?

Feel free to express your opinion to the National Autistic Society, Mark Radford at Health Education England, NHS England, and Minister for Care Helen Whately.

Are Autistics empowered during pregnancy and labour in line with the ICPD?

Today (11th July 2020) is World Population Day which “this year calls for global attention to the unfinished business of the 1994 International Conference on Population and Development” (ICPD).[1]

The ICPD met in Cairo in 1994 and 179 governments adopted a Programme of Action relating to reproductive health and the empowerment of women. ICPD is “often used as a shorthand to refer to the global consensus that reproductive health and rights are human rights.”[2]

[Before I continue, I’d like to thank Hayley Morgan for her guidance and direction to some of the only academic articles out there regarding this matter.]

Despite this consensus, many Autistic women (and those non-binary and otherwise gendered people who have given birth), report that the support (or lack of) they received during pregnancy and birth from their medical teams was not reflective of their needs. A study of women with intellectual and developmental disabilities conducted in 2015 by Potvin, Brown and Cobigo found that a “high level of available support was not always perceived as beneficial” and that “social support is perceived as most effective when three conditions are met: (1) support is accessible, (2) support is provided by individuals expressing positive attitudes towards the pregnancy, and (3) autonomy is valued.”[3] The study concludes that there’s a lack of accessible information for developmentally disabled women, and that maternity care providers should “be aware of stigmatizing attitudes and respect the autonomy of pregnant women with IDD as they prepare for motherhood.”

For pregnant Autistics, not only is there a lack of accessible information for those who need it, there’s a lack of information full stop. If you Google ‘pregnant and Autistic’ or ‘Autistic pregnancy’ the results include a plethora of articles speculating about whether or not you can ‘prevent autism’, articles listing the ‘risk factors for having an Autistic child’, a small handful of academic research papers which are often behind paywalls, and (from the first 10 pages of the Google search results) a couple of articles containing the experiences of actually Autistic people who have experienced pregnancy and birth.

Pregnant people often spend at least some time researching what to expect during pregnancy and birth – there’s an abundance of books, articles, websites and forums highlighting this fact – yet pregnant Autistics and Autistic parents have been accused of Fabricated or Induced Illness due to the volume of research they have conducted and their use of medical – rather than colloquial – terminology in appointments. This is discussed in a 2017 article by The Guardian in which Autistic women report their experiences of motherhood including fears of putting “professionals’ backs up and [being] accused of causing or fabricating their children’s condition” and being “terrified their children will be removed from them if social workers misinterpret their autistic traits as indicating potential harm to the child.”[4]

It’s also reported that the experiences of pregnancy and birth for Autistics are quite different from their non-Autistic counterparts, and that sensory differences (for example) were dismissed as ‘not possible’ by their midwifery team. An article on Tommy’s (the miscarriage and baby loss charity) website features Rachel, an Autistic mum who has experienced multiple miscarriages. Rachel talks about how she (along with “many Autistic mothers”) are “very aware of their internal body state and knew things about their pregnancy before the textbooks said they should” which meant that she was more acutely aware of pregnancies she had lost in the early stages of conception. Rachel also discusses the difficulties Autistics have with processing pregnancy loss, and that “some may not process what has happened immediately or even within the weeks and months that follow the loss.” This processing delay coupled with reduced social networks reported by Autistics (corroborated by Potvin, Brown and Cobigo’s aforementioned study) contribute to the “isolation and detriment [pregnancy and baby loss] causes to mental health.”[5]

A study published in Women and Birth in 2017 explores the sensory differences reported by pregnant Autistics alongside other reported challenges they face. The review of current literature and its supplementary anecdotal evidence from blogs found that Autistic women “reported that they needed to feel more empowered about the circumstances of their giving birth and that they relied on three factors during their experience—clear communication, sensory adjustments and change management.” It highlights issues faced by Autistic people more generally – hospitals being noisy environments and touch which “may bewelcomed by many patients can be the cause of pain or distress for the [Autistic person].”[6]

Therefore, Autistic UK recommend that the needs of Autistic women, non-binary, and otherwise gendered people who give birth are reviewed and recognised in accordance with ICPD. Midwifery teams need to receive clear guidance and training from Autistics with lived experience in order to ensure the needs of all pregnant Autistics are recognised and met. There are a number of Autistic professionals with experience in this area, including Hayley Morgan MSc, who are able to provide talks and training regarding the Autistic experience of pregnancy and birth in order to achieve positive outcomes for both the Autistic person and their baby.

References

[1] United Nations (2020), ‘World Population Day July 11’ (Online) accessed 9th July 2020. Available at https://www.un.org/en/events/populationday/

[2] United Nations Population Fund (2019), ‘Explainer: What is the ICPD and why does it matter?’ (Online) accessed 9th July 2020. Available at https://www.un.org/en/events/populationday/

[3] Potvin, LA, Brown, HK & Cobigo, V (2016), ‘Social Support Received by Women With Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities During Pregnancy and Childbirth: An Exploratory Qualitative Study’ Midwifery, Vol. 37, pp 57-64 (Online) accessed 9th July 2020. Available at https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27217238/

[4] Hill, A (2017) ‘Mothers with autism: ‘I mothered my children in a very different way’’ The Guardian (Online) accessed 9th July 2020. Available at https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2017/apr/15/women-autistic-mothers-undiagnosed-children

[5] Rachel (ND) ‘Recurrent miscarriage and being autistic’ Tommy’s (Online) accessed 9th July 2020. Available at https://www.tommys.org/our-organisation/help-and-support/baby-loss-stories/recurrent-miscarriage-and-being-autistic

[6] Rogers, C, Lepherd, L, Ganguly, R, & Jacob-Rogers, S (2017), ‘Perinatal issues for women with high functioning autism spectrum disorder’ Women and Birth Vol. 30 Iss. 2, pp e89-e95 (Online) accessed 9th July 2020. Available at https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1871519216301287

Whorlton Hall Panorama Report – A Statement

From the Directors of Autistic UK

Written by Errol Kerr and Kat Humble

Within the past few months, the revelations as to how the most
vulnerable of our community are treated at the hands of healthcare
professionals have been horrifying, though unsurprising, to us at Autistic UK.

Whether it’s Winterbourne View, Whorlton Hall or who knows how many
others, there is the level of contempt amongst those who provide care for
autistic and learning disabled people. Our long-term physical and mental health
needs go unmet, thus shortening our lifespans and damaging the lives that we
and our families live. There is a very good reason why the suicide rate amongst
autistic people is nine times higher than the national average. This number,
combined with those who die from neglect or incompetence is a canker in the
heart of our society that is being ignored.

Denial of Rights

Some deny us our right to adequate support for being “too expensive” to meet our needs locally. Some attempt to deny us support because it’s too much effort and keep passing it on to another agency. Then there are those, like the gang of staff members at Whorlton Hall, denying us support in favour of constant abuse and victimisation because they do not see us as fully human. We are “other” to them and therefore fair game.

This is not new. It is not a surprise, at least not to us. It is an
obvious outcome of a society that does not value difference. A society that not
only doesn’t value difference but fears it. A society where people feel they
must distance themselves from others who don’t conform to their definition of
normal. It is also the obvious outcome of a system that is not only corrupt,
but essentially unmonitored despite the existence of the CQC. An organisation
that is rapidly proving itself unfit for purpose.

The inhuman abuses that our people have regularly suffered at the hands
of those meant to care for them will shock the general public for a little
while and then, when we are no longer front page news and people have forgotten
about us, another revelation will happen. But, as incredible as this
investigative programme was, it alone will not change what is happening.

Panorama

In 2011, Panorama shocked the nation with the revelation of the abuses
at Winterbourne View. The CQC investigated the rest of the homes operated by
that company, Castlebeck Care, and found a “systemic failure to protect people or to
investigate allegations of abuse” and accused Castlebeck of misleading
them. Shortly after, the CQC came under scrutiny itself when it was discovered
that they had received numerous allegations of abuse dating back to 2008. The
head of the CQC resigned following the investigation. Sadly, that appears to
have been the sole outcome.

Now, eight years later, Panorama has
found another vile example to shock the public, Whorlton Hall. And again, they
have done a stellar job of showing the extent of the horrors that have
happened. Yet there have been numerous discoveries of such abuses between these
two investigations. One example was Mendip House, run by the NAS, who were
accused by the resident’s relatives of hiding the abuses suffered by their
loved ones for years before acting.

The Cover Up

Evidence in the report by the Somerset
Safeguarding Adults Board showed that the NAS had conducted internal
investigations which revealed extensive degradation of the people under their
care but did not alert the CQC or the police of these crimes. The report observed that it was “remarkable”
that, five years after Winterbourne, these abuses were not brought to light for
so long. The NAS was fined £4000 by the CQC for the financial abuses committed
by the staff, but not the perpetrators of the physical and mental abuses that
occurred. Despite these findings, the CQC stated that no other action was
required of them. No criminal charges were brought and the residents of that residential
care home were left without justice, like so many others. And so it continues.

Fit For Purpose?

A watchdog with no protective instinct is
useless. In a 2017 report by John Burton of the Centre for Welfare Reform, it
is shown quite clearly why the CQC is so ineffective. Instead of listening to
residents and loved ones directly, these worried people are directed to a call
centre where staff have no knowledge of who that home’s local inspector is or
how to reach them. All this call centre can do is essentially take a message
and put it on the home’s file. Reports of abuse and concerns of neglect are
left to pile up between inspections. Even then, those reports are often not
regarded, as the CQC rely most heavily on documents like care plans rather than
digging beneath the polished surface presented by a care home that knew they
were going to be inspected.

These abuses will not stop until the CQC
is reformed from the ground up. Autistic and Learning Disabled people are
speaking, CQC, are you listening?

A photo of a large cream-coloured two story house.

In Response to the Shocking Verdict of the CQC Regarding the Mendip House Abuses

Content Warning: this article discusses depictions of torture and abuse.

To all of you who read this:

It doesn’t matter whether you are autistic or not, whether you’re an ally or an advocate, whether you consider autism a disability or a difference, whatever language you may use to talk about autism or autistic people.
It doesn’t matter whether you’re affiliated to an organisation or not. It doesn’t matter if you’re a parent, carer, aunt, uncle, cousin or other relative of an autistic person. It doesn’t matter whether the closest autistic person you know is a classmate, a teacher, or a neighbour. It doesn’t even matter if the closest you’ve come to an autistic person is seeing Anne Hegerty on The Chase.
To any healthcare worker, professional, or commissioner who is as appalled as we are that their profession is benchmarked by the CQC’s ruling – a ruling that says it’s acceptable to abuse vulnerable adults in your care.
To anyone who abhors this ruling that downplays the atrocities that occurred in Mendip House, a ruling that says that a few thousand pounds can absolve the trauma faced by the most vulnerable.
To anyone who is disgusted by the idea that when you’re caught abusing vulnerable people – if indeed you are – you can avoid the worst of the charges brought against you by paying a paltry sum for the least of these charges while claiming sympathy for victims and promising change, time and time again.
To anyone over the age of eighteen, with a shred of human decency, this post is for you.

So many of us wish for the organisations responsible for permitting and covering up this abuse to be held accountable, and to ensure this is done we need to ensure our anger is directed to the right places. The actions performed by Mendip House are atrocious – the fact the Care Quality Commission (CQC) has all but absolved their acts is an unforgivable betrayal.
Whilst physical direct action and targeted protests will help focus the media and public’s attention toward this travesty, and whilst social media is a fantastic tool for organising our actions, it will be just as effective to focus the CQC’s attention on our actions by providing a torrent of formal complaints concerning their actions regarding the abuses suffered by the vulnerable residents of Mendip House.
As the CQC seems to believe it will shelter in silence during this storm, as no-one ‘who matters’ seems to be paying attention, we should ensure we bring the storm to them.
Below, you can find a link to the complaints page of the CQC, which contains all of the information you will need to make a full formal complaint through multiple formats, including an easy-read version and several languages. You can also find their contact details, separately, at the bottom of this post. It’s possible that the CQC may only accept complaints from the UK, however there is no harm in attempting contact from abroad.
You will note that this page is not for making a complaint to the CQC – it is to make a complaint about the CQC. To have the greatest impact, we should each submit our own complaints through any means most suited to yourself, whether as an individual or through a network or organisation. We should encourage anyone who is as angered by this abhorrent ruling as we are, to also submit a similar complaint.
Whether your complaint is made via email, in writing, or via phonecall, ensure that this is done – and ensure that, as the CQC requests, your complaint is directed for the attention of the Chief Executive. After all, to whom else should we indicate our anger that the Organisation they run appears to consider abuse in a care setting more acceptable than theft? To whom else should we express our disgust at this ruling, even though the CQC states on their website they have the option of “prosecuting cases where people are harmed or placed in danger of harm”?

As you take on this fight, be sure to direct others to the complaints page alongside this article from the Guardian that can be found below, discussing the events we are enraged at. Whether you share this post or the links themselves, whether you have this discussion publicly or privately with others, be sure to bring everyone together in this Share this with your friends. Share it in any page, group or network with any vague interest in disability, neurodiversity, human rights, or any political or social movements. Share it because you can.
Most especially, share it because many of us – those of us who may be most hurt by this ruling – may be unable to do so themselves. Share it because those who can’t share it are often the most vulnerable of us, those who we should put our rivalries aside for to uphold the rights of, and to inform those responsible for defending their rights – our rights – of just how angry we all are.

In solidarity,

Julian Morgan & Errol Kerr

Complaints Page:
https://www.cqc.org.uk/cont…/how-complain/complain-about-cqc

Postal Address:
CQC National Customer Service Centre
Citygate
Gallowgate
Newcastle upon Tyne
NE1 4PA

Phone:
03000 616161

Email:
enquiries@cqc.org.uk

Opening Hours:
8.30am – 5:30pm, Monday to Friday

Gopul, a young man with black hair wearing a dark jacket and trousers, is standing on a path in a park with trees and grass in the background.

Living on Borrowed Time

Gopul, a young man with black hair wearing a dark jacket and trousers, is standing on a path in a park with trees and grass in the background.
Gopul in the park, aged sixteen

Gopul Anand was sixteen years old when he and his family moved to the UK. His father, a highly respected expert in economics, sustainability and social development, was asked to join Oxfam in their Oxford office to be their Global Resilient Livelihood Advisor. Gopul settled in quickly and loved his new life.

A Turn for the Worse

Unfortunately, when Shekhar, Gopul’s father, tried to renew their visa after five years, the Home Office rejected their application, despite Oxfam still needing him to do his vital work. The family were told they would have to leave the life they had built for themselves. Because of this, Gopul’s world spun out of control and his health took a dramatic turn for the worse. Shekhar filed an appeal, then the family heard nothing from the Home Office for two and a half years.

The extreme stress of this uncertainty caused Gopul to deteriorate quickly and he spent ten months in an Assessment and Treatment Unit; languishing until his parents won a tribunal for his release. He still has nightmares of the abuses he suffered there. Gopul stopped being able to go to his social groups and his impulsive behaviours increased. He stopped being able to take public transport, even with two support workers helping him and his world shrunk to his family home, spending time on his computer and drawing.

Rejection

A young man with black hair and a serious look on his face is standing in an Underground station.
Gopul in the Underground station, aged sixteen

The Home Office eventually wrote to the Anand family, telling them that their appeal had been rejected and that they had to leave. Shekhar asked for an exemption based on medical grounds, that Gopul was by this time in no fit state to travel. While they await the answer to their appeal for an exemption, the Anand family cannot travel as their passports are still being held by the Home Office. They were not even able to visit Shekhar’s mother when she underwent heart surgery.

Evidence

Along with the application for the exemption, Shekhar submitted evidence from Gopul’s psychiatrist and social worker that clearly stated that a plane journey would cause Gopul to be a danger to himself and possibly others. They also pointed out that the support and treatment that Gopul was receiving was not readily available in India and his physical and mental health would suffer tremendously.

Running Out of Time

Two young brothers in formal Indian garb. One boy in vibrant red and a smaller boy, Gopul, in blue.
Gopul, aged seven, and his brother

The Anand family find out if their exemption will be granted at the end of January. If the answer is no, they have no further options, they will have to leave despite the risk to Gopul’s health and the possible risk to other passengers on the flight.

Please Help

We are asking everyone to sign the petition linked below asking the Home Office to grant Gopul the medical exemption that would allow him and his family to stay in the UK and continue to receive the support and treatment he needs to stay safe. Please share this article to help us spread awareness.

If you are able to do so and wish to do more, please contact your MP, any journalist you know, anyone you think might be able to help, and tell them what is happening. The more people know about Gopul and the more they protest at his inhumane treatment, the better chance we have of the Home Office deciding they need to accept the appeal and grant his exemption.

https://www.change.org/p/home-office-please-don-t-force-my-severely-disabled-son-to-leave-uk?recruiter=410764766&utm_source=share_petition&utm_medium=copylink&utm_campaign=share_petition

An Appeal to Stop the Inhumane Deportation of Gopul Anand

by Errol Kerr and Kat Humble

Gopul Anand, 23, is fascinated by computers. He loves to explore science, music and art and has an immense interest in learning as much as he possibly can about the world. His brother, currently studying computer science at university, shares information on what he is studying with him as well as playing the odd video game or two.

Gopul is an autistic and multiply disabled young man currently living in Oxford with his father and mother and his younger brother visits him during term-breaks and weekends. He receives round-the-clock care from his family after his health deteriorated drastically in 2013. He was sent to an ATU (Assessment and Treatment Unit) in 2015. After 10 months, his family were forced to go through a mental health tribunal to have him released and Gopul still struggles with nightmares and flashbacks about his experience there.

Due to his many conditions (autism, learning disability, epilepsy and schizophrenia), Gopul needs a significant amount of care. His medication often leaves him sedated to such an extent that he is unable to carry out a regular daily routine without support. He is assisted by two support workers when he needs to use public transport or go shopping. Feelings of anxiety manifest in outbursts and meltdowns, but Gopul often finds ways to stim in order to stem these.

Visa Troubles and Stress

Gopul’s family moved to the UK as his father, Shekhar, started working at Oxfam on a five-year intra-company transfer visa. This had previously been extended and was to extend further, as Oxfam were hoping to keep Shekhar working with them due to his immense experience and talents. However, as the rules around visa extensions changed as part of the policy on immigration, Shekar and his family were planning to return to India. Unfortunately, after Gopul’s health deteriorated in 2013, it is now impossible for him to travel safely.

Medical professionals, including his doctor and social worker, have stated that Gopul is unfit to travel, and that both his safety and the safety of the other passengers would be at risk should he have to leave his current environment. Should Gopul be forced to leave the UK, his family and medical professionals report that not only would his condition will suffer irreparable damage and extreme anxiety, but it could also make him dangerous to other passengers during travel, also affecting his mental health and well-being in the long run.

His current care plan has been thrown into uncertainty because of the protracted situation with the Home Office. Gopul and his social workers have spent many months building trust and a strong relationship with one another and, after his experiences in the ATU, family support is key. Gopul’s friends, family, medical team and possessions are all here, in the UK. Here, he is in a safe environment with appropriate support and medical treatment. This support would be unavailable should Gopul and his family be forced to leave.

Human Rights Violation

Because his health conditions are not obviously physical – i.e. either because they are invisible disabilities or mental health conditions, the Home Office has elected to ignore all medical evidence provided. The family’s solicitor, Sugina Mehra, affirmed that the level of medical evidence supplied by Gopul’s psychiatrist and social worker was ample. This, of course, is a grave breach of Gopul’s human right to not be discriminated against because of his disabilities. Disabilities should not have to be visible to be counted as real.

This situation has deeply affected his mental health. He has stopped attending regular social groups due to the intense stress he feels about his family’s situation and he is now less able to control his impulsive behaviour as his stress increases. Gopul considers the UK his home. It has been his home for the past seven years.

Please Help

We are hoping that, by publicising his case, it will encourage the general public to contact the Home Office and their MPs to register their disgust at the decision and to state their support for Gopul and his family. We are also hoping that you will sign the petition at https://www.change.org/p/home-office-please-don-t-force-my-severely-disabled-son-to-leave-uk?recruiter=410764766&utm_source=share_petition&utm_medium=copylink&utm_campaign=share_petition to join the thousands who have already signed it to show their support. Thank you.