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CEO Blog – Destinations Champions

CEO Blog – Destinations Champions

  CEO Blog - Destinations Champions I can't quite believe that we've made it to December already, but here we are, and the countdown to Christmas is well and truly underway! This week, I would like to point you all in the direction of our newest New Bridge...

CEO Blog – 24.11.23

CEO Blog – 24.11.23

CEO Blog - 24.11.23 Happy Friday, everyone. I'm keeping it brief this week, but I wanted to give you an update on what's been going on behind the scenes at New Bridge... I met with the Directors at New Bridge Horizons, talking about the exciting partnerships we build...

CEO Blog – 17.11.23

CEO Blog – 17.11.23

CEO Blog - 17.11.23 This week has been another busy week for all of us at New Bridge, and I'm proud of our staff teams for pulling together and continuing to offer our students and young people the very best, even when it's already dark by the time most of them are...

CEO Blog – 10.11.23

CEO Blog – 10.11.23

CEO Blog - 10.11.23 This week, it has been good to see each of our sites commemorating Remembrance Day in their own way. The creativity and thought that our staff have put into these 'Remembrance' themed activities is brilliant, and testament to their ingenuity. It...

CEO Blog (3.11.23) – Welcome Back

CEO Blog (3.11.23) – Welcome Back

CEO Blog (3.11.23) - Welcome Back To everyone who has just had half term, I want to say, 'welcome back', and that I hope you had the opportunity to spend some quality time with friends and family over the break. This first term is usually the toughest, and the October...


I’m writing my blog a day earlier than usual to give you my perspective on the Panorama programme that aired last night on the BBC.

To say that I was shocked wouldn’t be accurate. Unfortunately I could see it coming.

In November 2014, Sir Stephen published his report – Winterbourne View – Time for Change – that said many people were being kept in hospitals far from home for far too long.

He was then asked by NHS England to examine how to address ‘serious shortcomings’ in the support for those with learning disabilities.

He made 10 recommendations, including closing large ‘inappropriate in-patient facilities’ in favour of care services for people in their own community and the introduction of a legal charter of rights for them and their families.

Central government failed to act. On top of that, over the same time period it has systematically reduced local authorities’ funding for social care and health, purporting a view of austerity.

So here we are in 2019 with exactly the same scandal. People with learning disabilities being tortured and abused. Well done to Panorama for exposing the issue yet again.

On the programme I was struck by a point made by a professor from Birmingham University, who stated that people with significant needs should be part of their local communities, in really busy places. It stops these types of situations occurring.

I thought back to our trust in 2011. Our Governors, at that time, took the brave and courageous step to set up New Bridge Horizons. We had a really clear objective and vision. We wanted to ensure that ALL our young people had access to an appropriate, quality assured, community-based offer. In our first years we struggled with finances, resources and buildings. At one point it looked as though we would need to close.

The most challenging issue for us was cash flow and affordability! We knew our young people were safer within our organisation and we knew that in comparison with the ‘Winterbournes’ of the world we were a fraction of the cost. It was only the resilience of our staff teams (with the backing of the directors), the support of our families and our absolute belief in community placements that ensured we survived. And survived we did – and moved on – and on – and on.

The point that struck me last night is that that type of residential setting continues to be a ‘get out of jail’ card for too many. Out of sight – out of mind. While places like Winterbourne and Whorlton Hall continue to operate, some local councils and health authority commissioning groups don’t need to make difficult decisions. They don’t need to strategically plan housing, they don’t need to think about volunteering (etc.), they don’t need to empower a workforce, they don’t need to be creative. They do, however, pay the bill – often upwards of £10k per week – and then bury their collective heads in the sand. Bubb had a bold plan. Close them down in favour of community-based services.

Former Care Minister Norman Lamb stated,

The system continues to sanction a model of care that is outdated and wrong. If people are contained in institutions, a long way from home, awful things will happen behind closed doors. Will the secretary of state [Matt Hancock] take personal responsibility to close down institutions providing the wrong model of care. Why does the CQC continue to register new institutions offering inappropriate institutional care?

Last week my blog was entitled ‘That’s how we do it in Oldham.’ This week it’s the same.

Now’s the time to further invest in community placements. We need to ensure our accommodation requirements are fit for purpose. Most of all, we need to uphold our core values and shout them from the rooftops. Every citizen is valued. Local solutions for local people.

Learning together, learning for all, learning for life.


You can find all Graham’s previous blog entries here


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