A “Q & A” with two of our Campaign Families

Claire Garrod and Helen Cherry are two of our family campaigners. The Campaign Families are family carers whose relatives all live, or have lived, in an Assessment and Treatment Unit. They campaign for change to the systems of care for people with learning disabilities. We asked them to share their experiences…

Why did you decide to take part in campaign work?

Helen: To make a difference. To hopefully change the detrimental care people with learning disabilities receive by being put into a special hospital or unit, like my son was. To ask for suitable alternatives to this kind of treatment; these placements are often miles away from the person’s family and home, which is so distressing.

Claire: We are not a fortunate family – especially not my son, Ben, who was abused at Winterbourne and then moved on to a care home to be abused again. I was put on this earth to fight for people like my son. He cannot speak for himself, so it’s through campaigning I speak for him, with him and about him to those who can influence his, and others’, lives.

What has been the best moment, or aspect, of campaigning?

Helen: Tom Clark MP of the All Party Parliamentary Group mentioned my son by name in a debate in the House of Commons on September 2013. There was recognition for the suffering of my son, who was put away in a hospital which has since been evaluated by CQC as unsafe. 

Claire: When I talk within the campaigning group I hear horror stories, but somehow that fact alone gives us a bur

ning desire to fight for change. We are there for each other, we care about each other and we know better than anyone else the pain the care system can cause. 


What do you think has changed, or can change, because of the campaign families?

Helen: We have met many officials including the current Minister for Health and Care, Alistair Burt, and the previous minister, Norman Lamb. I have seen most invited officials be deeply moved listening to the campaign families’ accounts of abuse and bad treatment. I like to think some official hearts have been opened by meeting us.

Claire: Huge changes are needed and if we peck at this bit by bit and achieve just something then it is worth it. Let the care sector learn from the good providers out there, listen to their own mistakes and hear from the families who want nothing more than to turn heartbreak into action.









 Leo handing the Campaign Families' petition to No. 10

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