"Full of Life" is a self-help group managed by parents of children with disabilities in Kensington and Chelsea.We were founded in 1994 by parents who were dissatisfied with the lack of information and support available to help them bring up their children. In particular they wanted to establish a single organisation that could help with every aspect of their needs. Over the last 16 years we have worked hard to ensure the voices of disabled children and their families are heard."
It is essential work-not just because of the pleasure it gives the severely disabled or the relief it offers parents, but because economically it makes huge sense in allowing these kids to remain at home and away from the vast expense of residential care. So Full of Life ticks just about every box as an organisation that needs our support.
We all know parents of disabled children. We know the love they have for their offspring and the determination to provide as normal a life as possible.
Frank Redmond is the parent of a disabled child and an organiser of Full of Life. So when he heard that it's future was under threat he did what most of us would do: he tried to contact the two people in the Borough who he thought might listen.
The Town Clerk, Mr Myers was unavailable and when he finally got through to Sir Merrick Cockell's office he was told by one of the many assistants who surround this very important personage that," Sir Merrick does not 'do' meetings". Doubtless had it been Mr Pickles on the blower he would have had the Bentley out in a jiffy. Whoever gave Merrick Cockell's assistant permission to dismiss residents in this way needs to be taken to one side and have explained to them that they are servants of the people-it's not the other way around.
Cuts will always be painful but even more painful is the dismissive attitude of a man who sees nothing wrong with sanctioning £24 million on a useless piece of road or £800,000 a year on the cost of the Mayor or £1 million a year on sponsoring Holland Park Opera or $380 for his dinners a deux, but cannot be bothered to find the mere bagatelle that Full of Life costs.
Cockell did not even have the common courtesy to acknowledge this letter from a parent, Mrs Redmond. Maybe he was miffed she forget he is now Sir Cockle !
Dear Mr Cockell,
My name is Sue Redmond and I am Chair of Full of Life a parent managed charity supporting families who have a disabled child/adult living in Kensington and Chelsea, for further information about our service please see www.fulloflifekc.com
Although we have been working hard in the Borough for 16 years we have never invited you to see the work we do and so I would like to invite you to visit our services for young people with complex needs. These operate on Saturdays and our next half term holiday service runs from Monday 11th of April through to Thursday 21st April. This invitation also includes attending a staff meeting which starts at 9am, the visit would give you an opportunity to see our services for young people with complex needs in operation! And to see what parents have created in partnership with the Borough. I completely appreciate that to say this is a busy time for you is an understatement! But we would really appreciate it if you could come along.
If you need to speak to me about this my mobile number is xxxxxx
This is what Frank Richmond had to say...
"In Full of Life’s situation it is clear that this matter had been under discussion for many months, and yet no one considered involving Full of Life despite the impact on families and service users, so where is the transparency and partnership with local organisations so often talked about by Councillor Cockell, it would seem that with regard to transparency and partnership there is much rhetoric but very little action, and much of what is action amounts to top down control.
My daughter would be devastated if she lost her friends and the community she has been part of for the past 12 years. She like others in the attached image does not have the luxury of waking up each day and taking for granted life’s normal everyday happenings, she like her friends cannot decide to have her breakfast on a Saturday morning in one of the kerb side Café’s scattered around the Borough, go to the pub or cinema, travel on the underground or bus or go shopping. There is not much in this life that one can guarantee, but one thing that I can assure you of is that I will not stand by and let any part of my daughters happiness suffer as a consequence of an indifferent and bureaucratic process.
It concerns me that those who drive this Borough forward are doing so armed with a balance sheet and a desire to accommodate the tick box culture of central government. In a recent meeting between the voluntary sector and the leader of the council and council members, it was clear from the leaders reply to a question that the social return on investment was alien to him.
It seems that despite popular rhetoric this Borough is run by a few from behind closed doors."
Isn't it a shame that in this Borough the council can find over £1 million annually to fund their own allowances and expenses, run two flash cars, spent almost £1million on Holland Park Opera, and almost three quarters of a million on the Mayor and his entourage, when service users like the ones above have to go without.
Makes you think, doesnt it?