Oct 102015

 Reblogged from Doug Paulley’s Blog, with thanks

Leonard Cheshire have announced that the Heritage Lottery Fund has awarded them £242,250 to “enable the charity to use its archives to raise awareness about the history of disabled people.

Cartoon by the wonderful Crippen / Dave Lupton Cartoons: www crippencartoons.co.uk

Cartoon by the wonderful Crippen / Dave Lupton Cartoons: www crippencartoons.co.uk

For their full, nauseating and uninteresting press release (why do charities write such?),

[Press release included at the end of this piece]

I hope the opening-up of Leonard Cheshire’s archives will be “warts and all” and not an exercise in nauseating saccharine-sweet deification of the organisation, but I suspect they will be true to form. (I also hope that they put the £242,350 to good use: shame they can’t use it to pay carers the living wage. Mind you, it wouldn’t even pay a year’s salary of their two highest earning staff.)

The history of Leonard Cheshire Disability is not insignificant to the development of the disabled peoples’ rights movement, throughout the UK and indeed the world; though probably not in the way that they would really like people to believe. I wonder if their archive will release some of the following history.

It’s ironic that Leonard Cheshire Disability are releasing their archives as a result of a Lottery grant, because Leonard Cheshire Disability had to wrestle their domain name off a disabled ex-trustee, who was using the domain to show LCD were duplicitous in their treatment of disabled people and were allegedly fraudulent in their grant application to the Lottery.

But there’s much more history than that.

The seminal Union of the Physically Impaired Against Segregation, the founder of the disabled peoples’ movement and the originators of the Social Model, occurred as a result of Paul Hunt‘s reaction to institutionalised care and  segregation in Le Court, the inaugural Leonard Cheshire home.

The residents of Le Court resisted the disabling regime. They did so initially through sending the staff to Coventry in 1956 to 1958. They went on to stage the infamous “pyjama protest” – they instituted a protest of mass defiance of the rule that they had to change into their pyjamas by 6pm. Their protests earned them eviction notices, which Leonard Cheshire served against multiple residents and only rescinded following a direct appeal to Group Captain Leonard Cheshire himself.  “Our Len” said that a Cheshire home was a home for life, words which echo down the ages…

Paul felt that these charities, by focussing on Residential Care, were basically wrong. He saw disabled people’s place as being in the community. In addition Paul felt that these existing long established ‘disability’ organisations did not reflect the interests of disabled people and that disabled people should organise and form their own organisations.

The same clarion call across the decades: Leonard Cheshire would have you believe that they are disabled peoples’ mouthpiece, yet they don’t represent disabled people and they don’t always practice what they preach in their own service provision.

I hope the archive will show documents from when residents challenged Leonard Cheshire after LCD chose to close Le Court in 2002. Leonard Cheshire won by creating the legal precedent that (despite being paid hundreds of millions of pounds in taxpayers money) they are not subject to the Human Rights Act, including the obligation to respect disabled peoples’ right to choice over their homes. As a result, they can – and did – shut Le Court against residents’ wishes, evicting the disabled people living there.

I wonder if the archive will include the two pieces of research (by Peter Beresford and Northumbria University) commissioned by LCD’s Trustees but then quietly hidden as they showed that Leonard Cheshire actively undermined residents’ rights to basic everyday choices and support?

Will it include that they spent hundreds of thousands of pounds changing their brand and their name; in the process failing to tell or consult Leonard Cheshire’s family? Or that BBC presenters suggested that they choose a name that describes what they do, e.g. “jobs for the boys” or “keep us out of sight, out of mind you bastard”?

I hope Dr Laurence Clark‘s research paper, “Leonard Cheshire vs. The Disabled People’s Movement: A Review” is given due prominence:

Oliver (1990, page 39) points outs that the post-war ‘rescuing’ of disabled adults from other unsuitable provision by the Cheshire Foundation may subsequently be reinterpreted as “incarceration” by historians. Although the organisation would argue that in recent years it has changed to an “enabling” approach, the movement maintains that it “continues to appropriate our language as efficiently as it corrupts our image and comodifies our lives to ensure its thriving status as the leading charity provider of services for disabled people in the UK today” (Carr, 2000).

To be fair and comprehensive, it would have to include the many protests by disabled people against the Leonard Cheshire. For example, in 2007 disabled people stopped Leonard Cheshire’s glitzy ball by blockading it and letting off stink-bombs, as a protest against the “prison like regime” in many Leonard Cheshire homes.


Perhaps it should include Leonard Cheshire’s tragic failures: incidents where their cost-cutting and incompetence have resulted in people dying. For example, Leonard Cheshire killed one young man because they left an unsupervised voluntary worker who don’t know his care plan, to feed him without supervision, even though the Council paid the home £1,700 per week for his care. (That home eventually shut.)

Leonard Cheshire have repeatedly demonstrated that they are unable to run any new services. For example, Waltham Forrest council abandoned using Leonard Cheshire’s services shortly after appointing them, due to this debacle which caused misery and suffering for many disabled people.

Leonard Cheshire sunk a lot of other people’s money (including mine, from my fees to another care home) into an Acquired Brain Injury unit in Goole. It shut shortly after it opened due to a shortage of clients, because Leonard Cheshire’s regional director annoyed a neurological consultant. Leonard Cheshire had to cut their losses, yet another provider has since opened the same unit. It’s now profitable and providing a decent service.

“Since the closure of the nearly-new 1.5m Leonard Cheshire unit in 2003, people from the Goole area have had to travel to Leeds or York for treatment. But the unit is now reopening in August thanks to a joint venture between the Brain Injury Rehabilitation Trust (BIRT) and Northern Lincolnshire and Goole Hospitals NHS Trust (NLAG).” Strange that, I wonder why this Trust could run it but Leonard Cheshire failed…

I hope the published archives include my little comma in the history of the organisation. Leonard Cheshire had the only enforcement notice ever issued against a charity by the Information Commissioner’s Office, after they tried to hide from me that senior managers called me a “git” and a “plonker” and attempted to sabotage funding for a holiday I’d booked, in recompense for me raising issues that residents had been overcharged by hundreds of pounds due to LCD’s failure to follow its own transport procedures.

They then attempted to evict me whilst still going through the façade of mediating with me; resulting in the local safeguarding adults’ board reaching a formal finding that Leonard Cheshire had subjected me to institutional abuse. Leonard Cheshire threatened judicial review, following which the Board re-investigated and concluded that their first conclusion was too light. They unanimously concluded that Leonard Cheshire had subjected me to institutional abuse, and specifically psychological abuse, by a range of senior management over a period of years.

I guess in one respect we should thank Leonard Cheshire for creating such amazing disability activists as John EvansPaul Hunt, Liz Carr and Paul Darke, and prompting them to create the Social Model; much as we should “thank” PW Botha‘s South African apartheid regime for creating Desmond Tutu and Madiba Mandela, and for prompting them to create the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

From: Selina Mills [mailto:Selina.Mills@leonardcheshire.org] Sent: 09 October 2015 12:54
To: Selina Mills


  • Leonard Cheshire Disability ‘REWIND’ project secures £242,250 from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF)
  • Archive will show history of disabled people’s lives over 70 years
  • Project will increase access to archive materials
  • Total amount raised for the project is £305,500

Leading charity Leonard Cheshire Disability is delighted to have been awarded a Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) grant of £242,250 which will enable the charity to use its archives to raise awareness about the history of disabled people.

The HLF grant will be used to fund ‘Rewind – seven decades of stories from Leonard Cheshire Disability’ project. It will support vital conservation work, digitise archive material and record new oral history interviews with disabled people. The project will create an accessible website and allow online public access to the collections for the first time.

It comes alongside contributions to the project from the Sobell Foundation and the Brighton and Worthing Charitable Trust. The total amount raised for the project is £305,500.

This project uses archive materials from the home of the founder of the charity, Leonard Cheshire, called ‘Le Court’ which was adapted for its disabled residents. Le Court had a film unit, radio station, publishers, archive and artists group run by disabled people and played a significant role in the beginnings of the disability rights movement.

Stephanie Nield, Leonard Cheshire Disability Archivist, said:
“We have such a rich and diverse archive and as a result, the heritage we hold from Le Court forms a unique part of a rarely documented social and disability history.

“Our founder, Leonard Cheshire, started our charity in 1948 with a single act of kindness when he took disabled veteran Arthur Dykes into his own home to care for him. This is an important step in helping us shape our history to share this dynamic story with the world.”

Stuart McLeod, Head of the Heritage Lottery Fund South East, said: “Thanks to money raised by National Lottery players we’re able to support Leonard Cheshire Disability’s project that will explore, raise awareness and share the heritage of disabled people over the last 70 years. This is particularly timely as 2015 marks the 20th anniversary of the Disability Discrimination Act – so it’s the perfect time to uncover this largely hidden part of our history.”

A community engagement programme is also planned and will run in six locations in the Home Counties of Surrey, West Sussex, Essex and Kent with trained volunteers assisting community groups to share memories and experiences. Volunteers will also record the oral histories of people who had contact with and experience of the charity Leonard Cheshire Disability, as well as capturing the experience of disabled people over seventy years.

The project will increase the opportunities for of disabled people to talk about and share their experiences of care and capture a unique part of UK social history.


For further information, images and interviews, please contact Selina Mills in the Press Office on 020 3242 0298 or on Selina.Mills@leonardcheshire.org

Notes to editors

The Heritage Lottery Fund
Thanks to National Lottery players, we invest money to help people across the UK explore, enjoy and protect the heritage they care about – from the archaeology under our feet to the historic parks and buildings we love, from precious memories and collections to rare wildlife. www.hlf.org.uk @heritagelottery

Leonard Cheshire Disability is the UK’s largest voluntary sector provider of services to disabled people. We support thousands of people with physical and learning disabilities in the UK and we work with Cheshire partner organisations in 54 countries around the world. We campaign for change and provide innovative services that give disabled people the opportunity to live life their way. Visit www.leonardcheshire.org


[suffusion-the-author display='description']
 Posted by at 23:02

  4 Responses to “Leonard Cheshire’s lottery-fuelled Pandora’s box?”

  1. “Volunteers will also record the oral histories of people who had contact with and experience of the charity Leonard Cheshire Disability, as well as capturing the experience of disabled people over seventy years.”

    That should be interesting… I can’t see the many negative experiences of its residents being broadcasted for all to hear!

  2. guess it’s time to go back and bite them on the ass again. this is so sickening. they are the biggest global incarcerator of disabled people.


  3. This is an insult to disabled people and our fight to escape the dominating power of such obnoxious charities as Len Cheshire. If they’ve archives, they should be ours as a right. If it needs money to use the archives then lessen the perks for top management, like private healthcare, and decrease their extremely high salaries and use that money.
    We must protest this and the state lottery from giving money, mainly provided by ordinary working class people, from funding the continuation of such abominations as charities, who’ve harmed us for so long. If we ever get justice charities will be held accountable for their exploitation and oppression of disabled people.

  4. Nothing is left that would surprise me about LCD. In 2007, I noticed an advert for LCD and they wanted to hire a number of Local campaigns Co-ordinators. So, out of curious and being fully aware of LCD’s reputation with disabled people, I had a look at the job description. It mentioned setting up groups of disabled people all over Scotland and then providing them with support to campaign on issues affecting their lives. As I had been campaigning both with and for disabled people for over 12 years the part about working face-to-face on a daily basis with them attracted me to apply – initially just to see where this would go.

    I duly attended the interview and was told by the then Manager of Campaigns, who was a wheelchair user, that LCD were changing they way that they worked with disabled people. More emphasis was to be on what disabled people saw as important and that we would be working directly with them every day. I was told that initially there were to be 5 Local Campaigns Co-ordinators and that this would quickly increase to 10 in order to cover the whole country.

    So, despite my original concerns about working for LCD, what they appeared to be saying was the right way to go and if I could help to change the culture to be of more benefit to the disabled people that LCD supported that sounded all good to me.

    Even when I began work with LCD I still had my doubts but they were keeping to their commitment to better engage with those for who they provided support.

    As they had promised, they provided support for me to establish several groups of disabled people all over Scotland. I met with them regularly and supported them with numerous campaigns.

    However, the Campaigns Manager left for pastures new and this process of reaching 10 Local Campaigns Co-ordinators (LCCs)stalled completely. Despite myself and others regularly bringing up the issue of increasing the numbers of LCCs, nothing was done over several years.

    Alarm bells began to ring loudly but as I was still directly working daily with the groups and individuals that I had established, I could see the benefits of my work, stayed perhaps longer that I should. Mainly this was because the people for whom I provided support were now my friends and there was no way that intended to leave them without support.

    It was approximately 18 months before I left LCD that I attended a meeting of Corporate Affairs held at their HQ in London. During the meeting it was clearly stated that LCD was to become a DPO within 5 years. I almost fell out of my chair!! I questioned this move to become a DPO and asked if they really understood what a DPO was because firstly I could not foresee how LCD could possibly become a DPO and secondly because it that indeed was their intention how they proposed to go about it. I told them that all of their current Trustees would have to go and their senior management teams would have to be staffed with disabled people (something that certainly was not he case at that time – and is not the case now). It would be a bit like “turkeys voting for Xmas”. Despite my comments I was assured that LCD would become a DPO within 5 years – unbelievable !!

    In late 2013 LCD hired a new Director of ENGAGEMENT and Campaigns. Within 3 months she put forward a plan to remove all the LCCs who worked with disabled people face-to-face every day of the week and was going to replace them with Local Campaign Officers, who would keep in contact with the groups by email, phone and letter.

    Despite this new Director having almost zero experience of working with disabled people, senior management at LCD decided that this was a great idea and proceeded to make all of the LCCs redundant. Her inexperience about disabled people, the issues that mattered to them and how they wished to be supported was clearly shown at almost every meeting

    It did not matter to me because I was set to retire within 4 months – although I had decided to stay on until about 70 because I did not wish to abandon the groups and individuals for whom I was providing support.

    Also, despite my representations and the fury of my colleagues and many within LCD HQ, there was to be no Officer based in Scotland.

    Of course there was no way that I could ever have applied for an Officer position even if one had been created in Scotland because I would not be working directly with disabled people.

    LCD held a “consultation” process before telling us all that they were not going to change the proposals of the new Director for ENGAGEMENT and Campaigns.

    I warned senior management about the reputational and financial damage that this move would have for LCD and also that this new Director would leave LCD within 6 months as she had zero commitment to the organisation and had only joined LCD to bolster her disability experience for her CV..

    I was wrong. 3 months after she got rid of the LCCs, she left for pastures new. She left to join the Autistic Society – God help them.

    Needless to say, after that Corporate Affairs meeting where they boldly announced that LCD was to become A DPO within 5 years, I heard no one further word about this impossible feat in the remaining 18 months of my employment with LCD.

    After I had left, I contacted the senior managers of LCD and asked hem about the progress towards becoming a DPO. 18 months later I am still awaiting a reply.

    Shortly after I left LCD, I contacted the local office that controlled most of the south and west of Scotland. I told them that I had just left LCD and that I was now Chairman of both Dumfries & Galloway Disability Access Panel and Dumfries & Galloway Accessible Transport Forum. I also said that I was a qualified Independent Living Advocate and was now working as a Volunteer Advocate with Dumfries & Galloway Advocacy Service. I said in my email to the LCD Manager for the region that if I could be of any assistance to the people for whom they provided support or if they had any issues to raise to please get in touch with me.

    18 months later I am still awaiting the courtesy of a response to my email.

    So, LCD abandoned dozens of disabled people in Scotland. However, most of thee people were now my friends. so, I continue to provide them with support. Ironically, most of the time it is by phone or by email. However, I do try to get up to Aberdeen, Inverness and Dundee as often as possible to meet with them but because I now have to pay fuel, meals and hotel costs, meetings are not as frequent as I would like them to be.

    There is no doubt that LCD has retreated on its promises that it made to many disabled people back in 2007. Anyone that I have spoken to about this has simply said that “they are reverting to type” their old ways of disrespecting the people that they have pledged to support.

    Given my experience of LCD, I find that difficult to disagree with.

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