We are Family, Give Me Back My Son

No. 49 of #50cases.

Steven is 21 years old and lives at home with his dad, Mark.  Steven is autistic with severe learning disabilities and has needed support since childhood. Mark gets lots of help from the local council. Steven goes to a day centre, social workers take him swimming.  He stays overnight with carers once a fortnight, to give Mark the break he needs. Steven is happiest when everything is normal. Christmas is difficult. The swimming pool closes. His favourite television programmes aren’t on. Social workers go on holiday.

Christmas 2009 is particularly up and down and Steven is getting more upset than usual.  Mark has the flu.  Mark and the care team decide it will be best for everyone if Steven goes to a respite centre he knows for a couple of weeks.  But Steven is made a prisoner in his new ‘home’.  He wants to go home but the council says no, we know what is best for you.  Mark protests repeatedly, and the council still says no.  Mark attends hundreds of meetings, but there is a brick wall between him and his son that he cannot break down.

Finally, after nearly a whole year, a judge in a special court that looks after vulnerable adults, says, in effect, “Yes.  You are right.  The council should not be allowed to imprison your son in a care home.  You have the right to enjoy a family life together as father and son, in your own home.”

This case means that local authorities will have to be much more careful, open and honest about how they are supporting vulnerable people and their families.  The court is watching them carefully.  Meanwhile, the damage is done.  Steven is still asking his dad whether the council is going to take him away.

This story is a short summary of a legal decision. You can read the full text here

Media Coverage of this story