I booked our annual holiday in February 2010, expecting Steven to be home long before then. We have had a holiday every year since Steven was a nipper and it is one of the hightlights of his year. It didn't occur to me that the holiday would be a problem.
By the time the holiday was due (we were due to go on 5th July), Steven was now on his second Deprivation of Liberty authorisation.
Two weeks before the holiday I was visited by the social worker and the Unit manager. They asked me to read a letter.
This is how the judge describes that event in his final judgement:
"Two days later, on 23 June, and after much consultation had
taken place in the previous weeks between the social worker, the team leader and
the service manager, the unit manager wrote to Mr Neary saying that Hillingdon
could not support Steven's holiday on 5 July. The reason given was because the
support unit had responsibility under the DOL "order" to assess Steven's access
to the community, and because "Whilst we are in the process of transition
with Steven to the family home, I feel we will be placing Steven and others at
risk ..." Mr Neary was understandably downcast at the lateness of this
decision, which he felt would disappoint Steven, who had been looking forward to
the holiday. Workers at the support unit did not feel that this was so.
Nevertheless, one of the problems for Hillingdon by this stage was that Steven
was becoming excited by his visits home, in accordance with the transition plan.
At this stage, Hillingdon's position remained unchanged, as reflected in a
message from the service manager to colleagues with reference to the holiday and
generally: "In the final analysis, Mr N can take the whole matter to the C of
P if he feels a DOL should not be in place."
The letter was interesting. Don't forget, the "transition home plan" was one great big lie but was still being used to keep us quiet.
We did eventually get to Somerset, the year Steven came home but he is still confused about why he never had a holiday that year. He regularly runs through the venues of all our holidays and pauses when he gets to 2010. He throws his arms open wide and says:
"Steven Neary couldn't go to Somerset when he was in M House cos Steven Neary threw a glass of apple juice over A".
Classy behaviour from the Unit.