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Monday, 4 April 2011

Full of Life faces funding cut-off

"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

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 CafĂ©’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?


  1. if this is correct then it just appalling. However in Cockell's office made that rueful comment needs to be disciplined-unless of course these were the instructions given by this self important and puffed up man.
    Time for a change at the top with someone running the show who has some common courtesy to those who pays his over-generous allowance

  2. an other stupid way make cuts and than spend more money.

  3. Cockell hates the cuts, but doesn't have the guts to fight them. Instead he hides behind his staff and is desperate to be 'peered' out of the borough.

  4. The Royal Borough has a track record for prudent financial management. Yes robbing the poor to feed the rich..

  5. RBKC savings of more than £2 million a year will come in the longer term from moving more staff into Kensington Town Hall. what is it going to do with the savings?

  6. This is absolutely disgusting, but why is this a surprise, do you really believe they care, of course they don’t .

  7. The Prime Minister David Cameron delivered a speech on Big Society on Monday 14th February 2011.

    "’s the sense that some of our public services don’t work for us...So, what this is all about is giving people more power and control to improve their lives and their communities. That, in a nutshell, is what it is all about...."

    "... the local authorities do have a choice ....we [PM] are saying to them as vigorously as we can, please will you make sure you cut your own bureaucracies, you cut your pay, you cut your bureaucracy before you cut voluntary bodies and charities..."

    Now K&C put up....

  8. What a statement on our society today! Whatever happened to `Charity`, the strong helping the weak! I think the answer is Mr Cockell just doesn't care!!!
    How we are judged as a society must be how we treat our most vulnerable!
    Shame on You RBK&C.

  9. Let the Borough pay the millions it would cost to place these young people in residential care! You only have to look at Full of life's web site to see how happy these children are. Does Cockell not understand he is a servant of the people, not the other way around.

  10. Is this the way RBK&C care for the most vulnerable in our society ?

  11. So much for 'the big society'.... absolutely see such a fantastic charity and staple of the community facing closure.

  12. The only organisation that has helped my family who work hard for us, and the council treat our children and families this way? How is this the big society, it would suit the Tories better to go and look at full of life to see what the big society really is in action, it's clear for months now they don't understand their own rhetoric get out and meet organisations like this and you will understand it,

  13. A concerned resident5 April 2011 at 15:22

    Its good to see sir Cockell and his team have their priorities right and that that the royal borough is protecting services which provide for the most vunerable in our society. As a resident of this borough I am asshamed of their actions.

  14. It would seem the council knows the cost of everything but the value of nothing.

  15. I have been lucky enough to see first hand the high quality service that full of life provides and can only say that it would be absolutely criminal to see it go. I hope that whoever has comissioned this is held accountable for their actions.

  16. This is an unbelievable story.

    I just received a copy of the Council's publication "Arts News Letter". What on earth are we spending tax payers money on this stuff for (and £1 million every year to subsidise Holland Park Opera)while cutting back and ignoroing our children of the future who happen to be not so fortunate.

    Its because the Town Hall has lost its sense of values and is in the hands of very poor leadership

    High time to tip Cockell into a dustbin

  17. Those with a business background look at the Royal Borough with amazement. In business we plan by setting priorities. Options are examined and decisions sensibly taken
    We know that there is a paucity of business experience in the Council leadership, but that should not excuse them from displaying a modicum of commonsense.
    Running RBK&C is a as easy as a stroll in Hyde Park. It is has vast physical assets, huge and predictable revenue streams and £177 million of reserves created from overtaxation of residents. It is one of the richest boroughs in the land, if not in the world. Like Monaco it is compact and generally stuffed with the affluent.
    Demand for services is muted.Most residents wish for little more than the streets to be swept and the rubbish cleared. Not too difficult: not too demanding.

    Instead we find hosts of people trying to find exciting and day filling things to do. It could be building Exhibition Rd, or funding Holland Park Opera or whatever.
    Look at Holland Park Opera. Most opera goers in the Borough can easily afford to go to the two world class opera houses down the road. So why is it we cannot find the pittance that Full of Life costs to run, yet fritter away £1 million a year subsidising HPO- a bottomless pit.
    It would be too simplistic to suggest the free tickets to councillors ensure it's survival: there must be profounder reason that escapes us mere underwriters of this money wasting venture.

    Our Prime Minster is a man of compassion. He knows and empathises with parents and the family of disabled children. I can imagine he and his wife at Full of Life thinking this symbolises what is meant by community involvement.
    I imagine his reaction were he to know that a higher priority is fixed to Holland Park Opera or the spending of millions of pounds keeping a pretty useless
    PR department going, or the building of a £23 million 'spectacle' road.

    For Merrick Cockell to refuse to meet Frank Redmond or respond to his wife's letter
    shows a lamentable lapse of good manners and lousy judgment.
    Had the Redmonds asked to meet Hands or Rifkind they would
    have been seen at very short notice.
    I hope that the Redmonds will receive a fulsome letter of apology, but more than that I wish Merrick Cockell would step aside and give his colleagues a chance to bid for the leadership. There are good people out there and by clinging on to power the Leader is
    just being selfish.

  18. A member of the community5 April 2011 at 21:26

    Absolutely appalling that these people can take away not only a centre for these service users with complex needs but a way of life, somewhere where they have a sense of being, where they can experience life through friendships and different activities ; ie cinema, theme parks, shopping, the things that most teenagers and young adults take for granted. I hope that someone wakes up and realises that these service users deserve the same opportunities as everyone else.

  19. What are these people thinking of time for some changes at the top get rid of this puffed up man

  20. Why can't they just leave good services alone.

  21. If Cockell were to step foot into the Full of Life centre and see the place in action and how much these children love the place and how happy they are he will see what a terrible mistake will be made if this cut goes ahead. He will also see how loved and valued they are and the fantastic work of all involved. Does he have no idea of the importance of stability and familiarity to these children and how devastating it would be for them to suddenly not have this service? How dare RBKC devalue their lives like this and send the message to the children and their families that they don't matter. YOU CAN'T GET MUCH, NO, ANY LOWER THAN PICKING ON DISABLED CHILDREN - SHAME RBKC AND ALL INVOLVED. HOW IN THE HELL DO YOU SLEEP AT NIGHT KNOWING THAT YOU ARE SCREWING UP THE LIVES OF THE MOST VULNERABLE PEOPLE IN OUR SOCIETY. And one more thing, if you walked into those offices Mr (Sir) Cockell, those children would smile at and hug you not knowing that you are one of the people planning to ruin their lives. Sleep well and enjoy the Holland Park Opera this year, these children won't be enjoying it as they would be considered disruptive to the rest of the audience, so why don't you be sensible, think again, turn over this stupid idea and let them keep their service so they can enjoy their place of comfort whilst you enjoy yours. Simple really isn't it?! Oh, sorry, another thing, you owe the Redmonds' a huge apology and a meeting, it is the very least you can do in light of the work they have done for the Borough.

  22. Disgusting and appauling. I don't know how these people sleep at night. Well, actually, I do. They sleep well after drowning themselves in expensive port and brandy. Shame on them all. I had the good fortune of being an audience member when the Full of Life youngsters perfromed at St. Charles hospital.It was a sight to melt the hardest of hearts. Great credit to all those who fight the good fight.

  23. It is incredible that an organisation such as Full of Life (FOL)that has served some of the most vulnerable people in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea over the last 16 years could be treated with such disrespect. I'm with FOL 100% on this.

  24. Claire Franklin8 April 2011 at 15:45

    I cannot believe that RBKC have taken this decision without any consultation - the effect on the parents and young people with complex disabilities who access this centre will be nothing short of devastating.

    Please K and C, think again.

  25. I've watched Full of Life grow over the years, helping and supporting families and their children with such strength and compassion. They have an incredible team of workers who help both the parents and their children and I'm constantly overwhelmed by their love and integrity. The children blossom under their careful watch and anyone who visits Full of Life really does come away changed. The team there always, always put the needs of these special and vulnerable children first and I see the building that Full of Life work in as sacred as it provides a haven for these children. I cannot believe anyone who has seen and understands what Full of Life has created could consider threatening its future. My hope is that the powers that be have the foresight to visit Full of Life and the courage to back down from their misguided decision.

  26. Does anybody care any more about the families who needs daily support, they should be adding more sevices not cutting, its stupid.

  27. Full of Life (FoL) is a vital community branch of support for young people with disabilities and their families.

    Without Full of Life; the young people's lives would be less enriched.

    There would be no opportunities to meet their friends, take part in outings to Thorpe Park, community farms, bowling, cinema, Westfield, local parks, gardening, football, be read too, visit the local cafe, to create paintings, drawings, browse youtube for fav songs the list goes.

    No opportunity to develop their communication skills, social skills. All the young peoples lives would be dimmer without FoL.

    Fol presents parents and carers respite time, that provides them space away from the hard work of caring for their children.

    Kim Love

  28. I am appalled by this news. With the support of Full of Life, I have been been successful in persuading the Social Services to allow my disabled daughter to return to live with me. There was no one else to turn to for advice!

  29. Mary Harris, mother and council tax payer10 April 2011 at 11:38

    This is a very wrong decision very badly made. How can this rich, rich borough suddenly take this unique, life-blood resource from severely disabled young people and their families, with minimum notice and no consultation? How many elected councillors have ever bothered to visit Full of Life to see for themselves what goes on there? Where is their humanity? That Sir Merrick Cockell of the very obvious nickname, "doesn't do meetings" is a classic example of the contempt with which the Council treats vulnerable people. If he doesn't do meetings, what does he do?

    It is very well known that the word most frequently used by all families of people with complex needs, is "fight". Why should people already so very hard pressed, always be made to fight for resources, when they ought to be met with at least a minimum of human understanding? Why is it that the Redmonds who have done an uncountable amount of work for the very vulnerable community who benefit from the superb charity Full of Life, are forced into confrontational situations by bureaucrats and others who haven't a clue about the lives of families of someone with complex needs, and are then accused of being confrontational?

    The situation they have now been placed in is irrational and inhuman. There can be no justification for removing this resource so suddenly and with such ignorance of the consequences.

    Shame, shame, shame on a council which spends so much on glossy exteriors, for treating people like this.

  30. This is purely a disgrace! We understand in these difficult times, there needs to be certain cuts in various areas, however to subject this excellent initiative to cuts is completely disgraceful.

    Why on earth do people have to make cuts in places that do so much good for families.

    If these cuts are pushed through, you should hang you heads in shame!

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