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Eight years on from Winterbourne View- Emma's thoughts

Eight years on from the Winterbourne View scandal and following last night’s BBC Panorama programme showing abuse at Whorlton Hall, family carer Emma gives us her thoughts.

 

Eight years- enough time to turn children into adults, students into doctors, bricks into cities, enough time to make- and break millions of lives. 

 

Enough time to transform care. 

 

Eight years ago, I believed that. counting myself among the masses of people who watched a programme, a supposed catalyst for things to change expecting just that. 

 

It was an ordinary night, in extraordinary circumstances for families like mine with direct experiences of Winterbourne View. We watched the fallout and experienced the anguish as if in a dream, all the while knowing that our worst nightmare- that our brother and son had been abused- had come true.

 

My brother, Ben, had his jaw broken at Winterbourne View, stepping into a hospital for the care and support he had a right to expect, only to leave physically maimed and psychologically broken by the torture he endured.

 

We took solace in the promises that followed the expose of the brutal regime he endured- promises all since broken as many more scandals followed in their wake. 

 

Each night, as Ben now sleeps in the safety of his own home, many others close their eyes in places far from their families, at the mercy of a system that fails them, at the end of another day locked behind closed doors. It is a fact that plagues our society, blights the lives of people with learning disabilities and autism, risks the future of those yet to come and torments the nightmares of families- it is a fact that should be confined to history, instead allowed to continue by a series of missed opportunities, failed transformation programmes, a lack of will, imagination, urgency and care. 

 

Eight years, enough time for a weedy 17 year old to turn from sister, to campaigner and yet to still be dreaming of the same change, the same salvation for some of the most vulnerable in our society as they languish in hospital rooms. 

 

Now, other families will add themselves to the list of those who have suffered this cruel system and, as they too seek the promises of real tangible change, I can only hope that they are finally kept. Eight years is already eight years too long. 

 

By Emma Austin-Garrod

 

 

 

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