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Housing that keeps our children close

02 February, 2018

• WE represent families of adults with learning disabilities, and all four of us have a son or daughter living in Islington, each in different specialist housing schemes and each supported by specialist staff. Two of them are autistic.

We are increasingly worried by the level of misinformation concerning the proposed development in Windsor Street (Complaints ignored, so people just feel abandoned, January 26).

The official guidance, to which Martin Rutherford refers, relates to people with very complex needs who have been in long-stay hospital or assessment unit facilities. This is not the profile of people for whom the Windsor Street has been designed.

The proposed building is most definitely not an institution. It is a mix of individual and shared space, to promote independence while preventing isolation.

The official guidance does not require a maximum of six living within a service. The most recent of a series of official documents says: “We will not adopt ‘six’ as a rigid rule for providers of any service for people with a learning disability and/or autism” (Registering the Right Support, Care Quality Commission, June 2017, page 13).

The Windsor Street proposal offers seven self-contained, individual flats, with a communal area, and a separate, self-contained, shared flat for four people.

The guidance does place great emphasis on proximity to local communities and amenities, and easy contact with families. The Windsor Street proposal offers precisely this.

We are not claiming that the proposed building is right for everyone with learning disabilities and/or autism – all of whom will have very different and unique needs. However, it is similar to the kind of housing projects our children are happy to live in.

We have so far received 98 expressions of support for the Windsor Street proposal (representing 100 per cent in favour) from the families we represent, as well as many comments.

The following (from the parent of an autistic child in Islington) is typical: “Our children will grow up and some of them will need help to live independently. There has to be this resource in the borough, so families can keep close relationships and young people live in familiar surroundings.

“I live near a supported housing facility, in Barnsbury Park. I think it’s great that that is there, and we’ve never had any negative experience associated with it.”

Rather than pursue this debate in the letters pages of the Tribune, we would like to suggest to Mr Rutherford that we meet with him and his neighbours to discuss everyone’s concerns.

MARK AUSTIN (Hemingford Road),
VIRGINIA BOVELL (Plimsoll Road),
CLARE PALMER (Avenell Road) and
NIROO PATEL (Holloway Road)


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