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Human Rights – Coming Home

“The ache for home lives in all of us, the safe place where we can go as we are and not be questioned”

Maya Angelou (1)

In 2016 the Mental Welfare Commission Scotland published an aptly named report, No through road: People with learning disabilities in hospital (2) that highlighted the plight of learning disabled people ‘stuck’ living in hospitals because no appropriate plans had been made to support them to move on with their lives. Just imagine going into a clinical setting for treatment and not leaving because there is little or no help to plan and manage your discharge, so you just sit there waiting. 

If you believe this couldn’t happen to you, then just consider the casual disregard that allows this to happen today, in Scotland, at scale. The Coming Home Report (3) noted that 700+ people with learning disabilities live in ‘out of area’ placements, in hospitals and Assessment and Treatment Units. 

What is so different about this group of people? Absolutely nothing, other than through a series of unfortunate and often predictable events they have become trapped in a system and left in limbo. Their European Convention on Human Rights Article 8 right to a private and family life is ignored, and their potential wasted. Despite the hefty reputations assigned to this group of people there are a great many others, equally specific about the way they need to be supported, living in family homes, or in their own homes with support. 

We know what works. (4) Start with the person, listen to them intently, believe they are good enough as they are and do not try to fix them. Build relationships of trust and respect; adapt and evolve the support that the person needs and wants with the aim, always, of building their good life. Support should aim to reduce distress, unhappiness and anxiety and maximise opportunity for growth and development of human potential, for everyone involved. 

The very least we should expect is that everyone has a place called home, a safe place where they can go and not be questioned. 700+ of our fellow citizens are ‘homeless’ and invisible. This is our national shame. 

Sam Smith – C-Change CEO

Listen to Human Rights – Coming Home as an audio recording (audio by Sam Smith)

Click here to download The Scottish Government ‘Coming Home’ Report, Nov 2018 (PDF)

  1. Maya Angelou, Poet, storyteller, activist and autobiographer.



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