A Lonely Society

Listening to Lucy Hurst Brown on ‘A Lonely Society’ (originally aired on Radio 4, available on BBC iPlayer) was a poignant reminder of how far we, as a society, still must come towards true integration of all.

Hurst Brown reflected on her life’s work – helping to move people out of institutions into supported living and her confident hope this would create the inclusivity anticipated. She talked of the many successes of this change, with people supported to shop for themselves for the first time or go to the pub.

However, what is haunting is the distance from what was envisioned with the Community Care Act and the reality now. Hurst Brown speaks of the 3000 people still locked in Assessment and Treatment Units (ATUs). Many individuals in these units may be unsuitable for the government preferred supported living, due to their complex needs, but could be better placed with higher support in bespoke residential care – allowing them to integrate with society on their own terms.

The Brandon Trust, the charity Hurst Brown works for, carried out a survey to reveal what the people they support wanted – the results are in some ways not surprising. They want relationships – friendships beyond their narrow circle of family and the people paid to spend time with them – to be truly connected to society.

Hurst Brown argues that we all have a duty to support this integration, befriending our neighbours and being more welcoming to all who may be perceived as different. Organisations may be able to help support this, but individual actions hold incredible power to change.

“We all need to do more. We all need to play our part” – Lucy Hurst Brown

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