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Charity Begins at Home - Disabled Parents Network

When I first became pregnant, I knew I was going to need some advice about coping with motherhood, so I searched on the internet and found Disabled Parents Network (DPN). After leaving my partner I was seriously worried about managing alone. I rang DPN's helpline and spoke to some very friendly people who told me that there was no reason to be afraid of asking for help from Social Services. What a crock of sh!t! At that point I had no idea what was ahead of me, I swallowed this advice hook, line and sinker. After all, why would anyone lie to me about it, let alone another disabled person? Plus I am a nice middle-class person who previously believed the lie which is our society and how things are supposed to be "fair". I volunteered for DPN for over a year, during which time I distributed leaflets, gave talks and worked on their helpline. During that time, many of the staff began to leave and I was aware of growing discontent amongst those who stayed. It wasn't until later that then penny dropped - they did not give honest advice, because they would have no business and no funding if they did NOT advise parents to go to Social Services. Luckily for the parents I spoke to, I could at least give them an honest account of the troubles I was personally having with Social Services. There was not one single parent I spoke to who had had a good experience with them.

Back to my own story - It took 5 months of campaigning and managing with my new baby before I saw a carer on my doorstep. Then Lewisham insisted on involving the Children's department, contrary to what DPN had advised should happen. Now, DPN publish lots of glossy leaflets about what should happen when disabled parents go to Social Services. They live in La La Land. No matter how many parents tell them what actually happens, they carry on spouting the Government Guidance and printing glossy leaflets. In reality, what happens is this. Social Services:

  • ignore the Government Guidance, after all, it is Guidance and they are free to ignore it.

  • if you complain you will be put through months of tedious letter writing with no result.

  • if you write to the Ombudsman, after months more tedious letter writing, they may ignore the Ombudsman's findings altogether (they are free to do that, too).

  • if you sue, there are no damages to file for.

Put bluntly, if you are disabled, Social Services will try their best to remove your child. If you ask for your notes you will find you have been "investigated" without anyone ever telling you. Your notes will be full of insinuation - for example, I happened to remark to a carer that I might try internet dating, this appears in my notes as "mum is lonely and going back on DateLine". I never even bothered in the end! What they were trying to imply there is promiscuity. What I also found was no mention of the positive things I did for my child.

Eventually, after months of hearing only bad things from disabled parents and encountering my own difficulties with Lewisham, the penny dropped about Disabled Parents Network. Why were they advising parents to go to Social Services? Well, DPN's business is advising disabled parents on their relationship with Social Services. If they advised parents not to bother, then they wouldn't have a business to run. Their business is NOT TO TELL disabled parents the truth.

I was banned from the DPN web forum after I started trying to warn other parents about Social Services. What a betrayal. I can only hope that I can get the message out to other people on this web site. The best advice that anyone can give a disabled parent is this: