Exploring learning disabilities: supporting belonging
Exploring learning disabilities: supporting belonging

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Exploring learning disabilities: supporting belonging

4.1 A changing policy landscape

Until 1971, people like Bernie were labelled ‘ineducable’. There was no school place for her.

Watch this video in which Bernie’s brother, Phil, explains.

Download this video clip.Video player: Video 8
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Transcript: Video 8

So Bernadette got to school age, and there was nothing. And I remember my father fighting long and hard to get something for her and constantly getting rebuffed to the extent that when it came round to rates time, he went up to the town hall, and he put the money on the desk and said that's my rates, and I've deducted the education bit because you won't educate my daughter.
Eventually, Bernadette got into a training centre. And that was what was accepted then. Bernadette loved that. But it wasn't really preparing her for later life. It was keeping her occupied.
End transcript: Video 8
Video 8
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Bernie’s life began to change in response to the 1971 White Paper, which said more community services were needed for those with learning disabilities. She first of all got a place at a training centre, which provided day time activities and non-paid work, and then moved into a residential home when her parents reached their seventies and decided they needed to find Bernie a home of her own. Both were set up in response to the Government’s paper.

However, it was after the Government’s White Paper, Valuing People, in 2001 that Bernie’s life really changed for the better.

Activity 7 Bernie's story

Timing: Allow about 10 minutes

Watch Phil talking about how Bernie’s life changed after Tony Blair’s Labour Government introduced ‘supported living’ following the 2001 Valuing People White Paper. As you watch, note down what it is about supported living that has made such an improvement to Bernie’s life.

Download this video clip.Video player: Video 9
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Transcript: Video 9

Tony Blair can be a rather toxic name to mention, I know, in some ways. But as far as I'm concerned, he was brilliant because he and his government decided that the residential homes should be phased out and supported living used to replace it.
Now, that was ideal for Bernadette. So Bernadette has now been in her flat, a self-contained flat, with supported living for 11 years. She has, I think, about 26 hours a week of support.
She still does her activities-- going to age concern. She goes to a country pass club once a week as well, she still does Mencap, she goes swimming once a week. Whenever I run through what Bernadette's schedule is, I'm always amazed as it's far more involved and detailed than mine. Never seen her as happy as she has been for these past couple of years.
End transcript: Video 9
Video 9
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The main improvements Bernie has noticed in her life since the Valuing People White Paper include:

  • She has her own self-contained flat.
  • She has 26 hours of support per week from staff who have known her a long time.
  • She has a full programme of activities.

Things have certainly come a long way since the only resource available to Bernie was Cell Barnes hospital.


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