Find Charlie a home
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I am the (volunteer) Founder and Chair of Disability Pride Brighton and am always trying to raise awareness of disability discrimination.
My 21 year old, adopted, disabled daughter, Charlie, has been asking Brighton & Hove Social Services to find her residential or supported living accommodation with other young, disabled people for nearly three years. She has seen my other two adopted children move out and move on and she feels it is time for her to do the same. She is lonely.
Charlie can’t read or write and would never be able to live an independent life. She has two rare genetic disorders and severe learning difficulties as well as mental health issues. Because she is very lonely, vulnerable and cognitively unable to understand the consequences, this has led to her making some seriously dangerous safeguarding errors. I have a pretty active social life in which Charlie is involved but she really wants to make friends of her own age. Due to her feelings of isolation, she has reached out to inappropriate adults.
Social Services offered Charlie a Shared Lives environment nearly two years ago which would mean that Charlie would live with a carer in a family home (which could include one person in the home or a family). Charlie is adamant that she does not want to live with another family or a carer. She has already lost her birth family, her foster family (who have both died), and my two ex husbands (her adoptive father sees her once a year but my last husband had a nervous breakdown and disappeared so she hasn’t seen him for six years). She feels I (and my other two adopted adult-children) are her family and she gets extremely upset when Shared Lives and a different family is offered to her.
A year after us first turning down Shared Lives, the only thing Social Services offered again was... Shared Lives, even though they absolutely know that this is not what Charlie wants.
Charlie has been to look at some residential places and supported living places and would love to live there. In fact, it has been her dream for several years now. However, Social Services say there is no funding for her to do that. Charlie is very upset because she has seen most of her peers from her special needs college be given places in residential and supported living accommodation and doesn’t understand what she has done wrong.
Charlie is not allowed to have access to social media any more because, despite being unable to read or write, she has managed to make contact with inappropriate adults and secretly invite them into our house. Social Services agreed a few weeks ago that this behaviour meant she could no longer be assessed for Shared Lives because it could potentially put someone else's home and lives in danger.
I finally put in an official complaint to Social Services a few weeks ago about their refusal to find a suitable home for Charlie. A few weeks later - unbelievably - their response AGAIN is putting Charlie forward for Shared Lives. Charlie is, understandably, extremely upset and angry about this decision. She does not want another family and, obviously, even though she wants to live with friends of her own age, she would rather stay here than go to a different family. The words of the social worker (who has always been very pleasant, as have all the social workers with whom we have been involved) was that they would do psychological tests with Charlie to see how she would cope with living with another family. THIS IS NOT WHAT SHE WANTS OR NEEDS.
I urge you to force Brighton & Hove Social Services to take the right decision now and find Charlie suitable accommodation. They have never given me a reason why they won’t take this step.
Please join me and Charlie in signing this petition. Charlie does not deserve to be lonely.
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