LBBill – Connor Sparrowhawk (Laughing Boy)
A Campaign To Change The Law And Bring Meaningful Change For People With Learning Difficulties And Other Disabilities.
The tragic death of 18 year old Connor Sparrowhawk, otherwise known as LB (Laughing Boy), or just 'the dude', while detained at an Assessment and Treatment Unit
in July 2013, highlighted how far we still have to go in the UK to ensure that people with learning difficulties, like LB, and other disabled people, are able to live at home and be included in their communities with appropriate support. LB’s death also ignited questions about the regular lack of regard to the wishes of disabled people
and the lack of sufficient safeguards
to protect them from harm.
Connor was a fit and healthy young man, who loved buses, London, Eddie Stobart and speaking his mind. He also happened to have autism and epilepsy. On 19 March 2013, he was admitted to Slade House Assessment and Treatment Unit run by Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust. After 107 days in the unit
, he drowned in the bath on 4 July 2013. An entirely preventable death
Back in July 2014 we referred to the inspirational campaign launched by LB’s mother, #107 days of action to bring about #JusticeforLB
and all young dudes. It was clear then that the campaign had already helped raise awareness of the issues which surrounded the detention and subsequent death of LB, and other dudes like him
. We expressed our hope that the campaign could also bring about change.
Four months on and those behind the #justiceforLB campaign have managed to ‘harness the energy, support and outrage’ that emerged in response to LB’s death and use it to draft new proposed legislation in the form of a Private Members Bill, LBBill
(#LBBill on social media), to seek to stop what happened to Connor happening to others. The first draft of #LBBill was published on 4 November and has been presented to the Department of Health.
This first draft is very much open to discussion and amendment
. The widest possible debate about the Bill is sought and everyone is invited to join in. To enable wide collaboration those driving the campaign have made sure that the draft bill and the thinking behind it is as accessible as possible. As well as accessing text versions of the draft bill and explanatory notes, there are easy read booklets which guide you through the background to the bill and what it sets out to achieve. This is all available, plus details of the process and timeline for the bill, at www.lbbill.wordpress.com
At the time of writing, the #LBBill has only been live for one day and it has already ignited further discussion and attracted some constructive comments on potential areas for amendment. It has also attracted further coverage
on the BBC
First Draft of LBBill
The draft bill seeks to make 2 key changes:
- Make it a legal reality for disabled people to be fully included in their communities
- Make it harder for the State to force disabled people to leave their homes against their wishes, or the wishes of their families
In its current form LBBill seeks to achieve these changes by introducing a number of changes in the law, in summary:
- Ensure local authorities and NHS bodies have a statutory duty to have ‘due regard’ (the regard that is appropriate in the circumstances) to the need for disabled people to be included in the community.
- Stop public bodies from using the cost of residential care as an effective cap on the cost of care they are willing to provide to a disabled person in their own home. Under the Bill, the costs or availability of residential care would be irrelevant when deciding whether a person’s needs can be met through care in the community.
- Ensure that a disabled person’s wishes, feelings and preferences are the primary consideration and can only be overridden in very limited circumstances by public bodies when deciding which living arrangement is most appropriate.
- Require public bodies to provide a range of information and to obtain approval from:
- a parent or the Family Division of the High Court (in the case of children under 16);
- the individual or Court of Protection (for children aged 16 or 17 and adults), before they can place a disabled person in residential care.
- Amend the Mental Capacity Act 2005 to include requirements to:
- consult with the disabled person and their family and friends before the question of capacity is decided;
- treat the disabled person’s wishes, feelings and preferences as a primary consideration in best interest decisions;
- give proper regard to disabled people’s rights in best interest decision making;
- and provide a stronger obligation to consult with families in best interest decision making.
- Remove people with learning disabilities and autistic spectrum conditions from the scope of Mental Health Act 1983.
How To Help With The Campaign
The campaign has been entirely crowdsourced and relies on interested people sharing their ideas to help develop what the #LBBill should say
. So, read more about the campaign on www.lbbill.wordpress.com
and have a look at the draft bill. Tell other people about it, join in the discussions and promote the campaign
. If you know of other people who may be interested and may have ideas to contribute, it would be wonderful if you could help host and facilitate a discussion between them and then feed thoughts back.
Any views and comments you have are welcomed and can be forwarded by email to LBBillFeedback@gmail.com
, via twitter @JusticeforLB
using hashtags #JusticeforLB
, discuss on facebook via ‘Justice for LB’
or through the blog www.lbbill.wordpress.com
You can also use the links on the LBBill blog
to show your support for the Bill, including using Writetothem to email your MP
We are happy to host and facilitate a discussion about LBBill
and the campaign in Manchester and Lancaster and to then feed comments back. If you are interested in attending a discussion please email email@example.com
or tweet via @evefrancisholt
. We will advertise any event on our website.
What Should You Do If You Are Concerned About A Family Member?
If you are concerned about a proposed move for a family member, the first thing you should do is speak with the relevant public body, this will be either the local authority or a health trust
. You could suggest having a meeting to try to resolve the concerns
that you have. It is good practice to keep a note of what is said
at any meeting, and to request copies of any minutes.
Sometimes, unfortunately, it is not possible to resolve the issue, either because you do not get appropriate engagement from the local authority, or because they don’t agree with your views
. In those circumstances it is important that you seek legal advice.
Legal Advice And Representation
If you care for a loved one with disabilities and feel you need some legal advice about the options and help that is available please get in contact.
If you are concerned about a family member being moved to residential accommodation, a treatment and assessment centre, care home or supported living placement we can give you legal advice and support.
If you believe that a family member may be deprived of their liberty
– this means their choices, contact or movements are being unnecessarily restricted in a residential setting or hospital, get in touch.