**Update: this site is no longer just about the way Wigan Council work. It’s about any LA I happen to deal with when trying to secure provision for my son with SEND. It’s not only Wigan who continue to do things as they’ve always been done.** 21st July 2016
I’ll be honest, I would never have imagined doing this 12 months ago, but I see no other option.
My son, and as an inevitable consequence, my family and I, have been so let down by the ‘system’ that I really feel I have no choice but to make people aware of what happens when you have a disabled child and you don’t put up with the crap the LA (Local Authority) continuously launch at you.
I haven’t suddenly found myself in a situation where I’m sick to death of being treated so badly by the LA that I feel one of us at some point or another are at risk of serious harm. I’d say it’s been a gradual process since my eldest son was born ten years ago, with peaks that never really go back down to a reasonable baseline. After each peak, I never recover the same strength I once had. I’m not getting any younger, and as my son grows, his needs change. They don’t necessarily become more challenging, but they change. Again. It’s a never ending cycle of never reaching that day when you can put a plate in front of your toddler and watch them messily use a spoon to feed themselves, giving you a few minutes to eat your own lunch. Or the day when you can buy a cheap and cheerful buggy off ebay that weighs less than a train and takes hardly any space in the boot of your car, leaving room for bikes and wellies. The day when you ditch the deluxe Britax car seat that takes up half your back seat, in favour of a booster seat you can take to Spain on holiday. The day you can leave the house without a changing bag. Just ‘nip out’. Have a quick shower while the kids watch telly. All watch a DVD together. All do things together. Pick your other son up from dancing or Kung Fu, on the top floor of an old mill with no lift. And on, and on.
I’m not unique, and I don’t want sympathy. What I want is respect. I want to receive services my son and my family are entitled to, within a reasonable timescale and without having to fight every time I requested them. Some will blame the cuts, but the issues I want to expose have not suddenly happened since the Tories came to power. Wigan council have always had a steady level of contempt, manipulation, dishonesty and incompetence since my son first started to need their services. He’s ten now, and on this blog I’ll tell you about Portage. Direct Payments. Statutory Assessment of SEN. Blanket policies of ‘funding’ SEN. Respite. School transport. After school clubs. Wheelchairs (NHS). These gems cover 2006 to 2009. The list continues past 2010 to 2015.
Because I don’t put up with bad service, or failures to provide services, I complain. If I want information the LA won’t provide, I go to the ICO (Information Commissioners Office). I go to Ofsted, DfE (Department for Education), LGO (Local Government Ombudsman) and if it relates to my son’s SEN (Special EducationNeeds), I go to the SEND First Tier Tribunal.
The circumstances that have pushed me to writing this blog involve mistreatment of my son by staff in his former school. We expected the LA to deal with it using the relevant statutory procedures when a safeguarding concern is raised about a (disabled) child. This began almost a year ago, on 3rd April 2014 and I want to tell you about what we’ve been through since then, because the LA didn’t follow the statutory procedures. They made it up as they went along to suit their own agenda. Our allegations have never been investigated. We complained about the LA’s lack of action, and remarkably, after nine months, the apology was delivered. Forceps needed to prise it out of them and a little grey in colour, but it was there!
The complaints process (The Children Act 1989 Representations Procedure (England) Regulations 2006) took me through three stages. At the third stage, the LA and the Independent Investigating Officer from stage two described me as a difficult person who staff are afraid of and because of this, they were unable to find someone brave enough who could conduct an investigation into the allegations I had made about staff. This, they claimed, caused significant delays, and the council made the best of a bad job considering the terrible conditions they had to work in, namely dealing with me. I’ve paraphrased here, but I think my point is clear. If it isn’t clear, they were sh***ing it because no-one could face the consequences of unravelling a very slippery can of worms……
I hope you enjoy reading my blog, (I’ll be adding to it slowly but surely) but most of all I want parents of disabled kids out there to know that you are not alone. Divide and Rule is the motto of the leaders in this town, and I was once told by a fellow parent/carer of a disabled child (who has since gone on to get paid employment with the council/a charity that may as well be the council), that I’ve “brought it all on myself….with that thing, ..with the [SEND] tribunal” in other words, any parent who takes their LA to tribunal is a trouble maker and their cards are marked.