Ballymun, Dublin: Families & Friends To Form New Campaign Lobby Group For Children & Adults In Crisis

2 Feb

BALLYMUN: DUBLIN:

CHILDREN AND ADULTS IN CRISIS REQUIRE A SERVICE WHERE THEIR VOICES ARE RESPECTFULLY HEARD:

OUR CAMPAIGN AIM IS:
To establish a point of contact where any person who may have experienced lack of response from professionals who are employed to ensure that in fact each person’s concerns are heard and acted upon.

RELATED ARTICLE: Published – March 6, 2010:

Danny Talbot, who died aged 19 last summer, of a suspected drug overdose, while in the HSE aftercare system, was born into circumstances of extraordinary deprivation.

His mother, Linda Lamb, was intellectually disabled, and spent much of her life in and out of the care system.

She drank heavily, regularly went missing, and had a total of nine children by various men in both England and Ireland. All her children were placed in care.

Danny was Linda’s sixth child. She left his father, Paddy Talbot, shortly after he was born, and Danny lived with Paddy Talbot, in Dublin, along with his elder brother, Joe, who has a severe learning disability.

Reports by social workers from the time reveal that Paddy Talbot was ill-equipped to care for the boys. (The social workers’ reports are contained in extensive documentation obtained under Freedom of Information legislation by Linda Lamb’s sister, Sandra Lamb.)

On one occasion in 1999 when the social worker called, they found Danny, then aged ten, and his brother Joe, aged eleven, at home alone. On another occasion, the social worker noted that Joe was wearing just a t-shirt and that his lower body was “soiled” and there was “a strong smell of faeces”. Social workers regularly noted the poor hygiene and condition of the boys, particularly of Joe.

In October 1999, Danny’s father, Paddy, died at home, and was found by Danny. According to Sandra Lamb, Danny and Joe were undernourished and filthy. Joe was like “a feral child”; she said, infected with lice and with his body “covered in urine and faeces”.

Though there is no record of any complaints of sexual abuse at this time in the documents, Health Board documents from some years later reveal that Health Board staff assumed that the boys had been abused.

Danny was placed with a foster family, and Joe was taken in by his aunt, Sandra Lamb. Danny didn’t settle and, aged 12 began running away from his foster home. He had difficulties with his temper. At one point, in a meeting with Health Board staff to discuss care arrangements for Danny and his siblings, he got so frustrated that he punched his hand through a window and had to be taken to A&E.

Meanwhile, Danny’s mother, Linda Lamb, had had a further child, who was taken into care, and was living in B&B accommodation.

In November 2000, Linda Lamb’s sisters attended a case conference at the Northern Area Health Board to discuss her situation. Linda was then pregnant with her eighth child. She had had no anti-natal care, was homeless, and it was reported that she had “been sleeping in fields”.

Linda’s sisters said they wanted her to be sterilised, as she had “no concept at all of the needs of a baby”. Linda was not capable of giving informed consent, and they discussed making her a ward of court. This never happened, however, and Linda subsequently had another child, who was also taken into care.

Linda’s sisters sought to have her placed in a care facility with one-to-one support by the Health Board. However, she was placed instead in a series of B&Bs. In May 2006, she was the subject of an attack where, according to her sisters, she was raped and subsequently pushed into an open fire, sustaining horrific burns to her back. No prosecution was ever taken. According to Sandra Lamb gardaí told them at the time that Linda was not competent to give a statement, though she had described what had happened to her sisters.

Linda was subsequently placed in St Ita’s Hospital, Portrane. She was safe there, at least, but her sisters believed it wasn’t suitable, and again sought to have her placed in sheltered accommodation with one-to-one support. However, in April 2007, Linda suffered a brain haemorrhage while in St Ita’s, and died. Her sisters allege that she was neglected in the period leading up to her haemorrhage.

Two years later, in August last year, Danny Talbot, Linda’s sixth child, was found, dead, in a flat in Dublin’s inner city, apparently of a drug overdose. His teenage years had been marked by consistent difficulties, culminating in involvement with drugs and crime, and a brief spell in prison.

It had taken his family a year of legal action to secure a proper assessment of his care needs, which eventually culminated in an aftercare plan being put in place; the plan, clearly, came too late.

Sandra Lamb and her sisters, Donna and Debbie Lamb, said their family “has been treated with disrespect for too long now. We were dismissed as if we were a burden when we went looking for help.”

They said they were seeking a full inquiry into the circumstances of the deaths of Danny and of his mother, Linda Lamb. They said they had had no contact from the HSE since Danny’s death.

The HSE said last night they were conducting a review into the circumstances of Danny’s death, and that the family’s views would be taken on board as part of that review.

The above article was published in the Irish Independent:

We have looked seriously into the deaths of children in care following our nephew Danny Talbot’s death.

We have also looked into the question of mental health, both in adults and children, as our sister Linda Lamb died while in the care of the state also.

Over the past 6 years, we have put our case before all involved in the lives of Danny and Linda, this included meetings with government ministers, the children’s court, the coroners court and many other people we sought out to provide us with answers which were not given to us by the professionals involved in these two lives.

The media invited us to discuss our reasons for requesting answers and following discussions on television, the radio and reports in the various newspapers, the public began to contact us in reply.

We were shocked to hear from so many that they too have suffered the loss of a child or grandchild in care and are still waiting on a response from social workers involved in their case files.

We have met with many adults who have discussed extremely concerning situations where they have been ignored or treated without much respect while seeking answers about the care of their child or the death of their child while in care.

We then wanted to hear from children in care.

 We have been to the Boardwalk over the last 2 years and have met so many young people who have a voice which does not seem to be heard by the professionals, as they are still wandering without a regular bed and have become involved in street-life.

We have met 13 year olds out of their heads on drugs, we have met so many on bench warrants who are currently in and out of St Pats before they reach the age of 16, and we have met young teenagers who have had children while in care and who have had to hand over their own children into the care system.

These are just a few examples of the many people we have gone out to meet over the past few years in order to get the full story from their own mouths, and what we have witnessed was shocking and is still going on today.

We have brought our evidence of meetings etc to the government and to the media.

We have also provided information regarding the many who feel worn down by the lack of help they have been asking for too many years, and the reasons that they stated were ‘I was made to feel 6 inches tall by professionals, never again’.

What is required for children and adults in crisis is a service which will ensure that their voice is being respectfully heard.

We have been continuously protesting and have discussed all our findings to government and also in a seminar in UCD, television and radio and with many people we constantly meet.

It has been agreed by each and every person that we have been contacted by and with those in government we spoke with that things must change.

However, nothing will change without serious steps being taken.

We have gathered so much information from people who have stated they feel that they have suffered so much from professionals in the past that they fear it will happen again.

We understand, as at another time this is exactly what we experienced. However, we have not given up and do not intend to lose sight of the urgent need of a service which needs to be set up a.s.a.p.

Although it sounds like such an urgent expectation, that it is exactly what it is, as the amount of children who have died while in care was actually unknown by the Minister for Children because it was unknown by HSE until they checked once, then twice and came up with the correct number on the third count.

We in Ireland should raise our hopes and beliefs and state our case to Government as a solid voice, not in detached groups here and there without a positive goal in mind. If you have an interest in change being brought about for those without a voice, we would like to hear from you.

If you would like to see a service up and running in which you can make contact with people and discuss your immediate concerns knowing that you will be respectfully heard and that your file will not remain on the shelf, we would like to hear from you.

Your response is important, as is your community; we look forward to hearing from you.
 
 (Editor’s note: Website links and other contact information will be added to this article in due course).

UPDATE ADDITION:

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

DUBLIN City Council continued to fail to provide alternative sources of heating during the recent cold spell to tenants who refused to leave their homes in Ballymun flat complexes undergoing regeneration work, despite the earlier death of a young woman from hypothermia.

Last night the family of 30-year-old Rachel Peavoy, who a coroner’s court last week found had died of hypothermia in her Dublin City Council flat last January, said they were distraught over the death of the young mother-of-two.

Ms Peavoy died of hypothermia after the council turned off her heating in January 2010 during one of the coldest ever periods.

Social campaigner Fr Peter McVerry, who lives in the adjacent block to Ms Peavoy, said during the recent cold weather he had been approached by a woman in a similar situation seeking an alternative heating source due to the council turning off her heating system.

“There is a centralised central heating system in Ballymun which means all the flats in a complex are heated from a central boiler in the case of the regeneration. In a block of flats where there are only one or two families left the system is closed down as it involves heating 90 to 100 flats which are empty. People in Ballymun don’t have alternative forms of heating because the central heating system is very good.”

It is believed that Ms Peavoy may have been offered accommodation elsewhere in Ballymun during the regeneration of her block but had requested to stay in her home.

Fr McVerry added: “Only a week before Christmas another lady came to me who was in a similar situation, her heating had been turned off and she was frozen. People on social welfare often don’t have money to spend on new heaters and this woman came to me and I got her two heaters.”

The Dublin coroner’s court heard last week that Ms Peavoy visited her GP one month before her death to request a letter for heating costs. The inquest was adjourned until February 24 to obtain further statements about the condition of Ms Peavoy’s flat.

Cork city councillor Ted Tynan said the issue of people lacking the basic right to heat was countrywide due to people being unable to afford to pay ESB bills.

“People do not risk having their electricity supply disconnected unless they are in dire trouble with their family finances,” he said.

————–

Saturday January 29 2011

A YOUNG mother froze to death in her Dublin flat after the council refused to restore her heating.

Rachel Peavoy (30), a mother-of-two, died of hypothermia in the bedroom of her flat during a lengthy cold snap.

She had appealed to the council to restore her central heating as she shared the flat with her two young sons, but she was unsuccessful.

Housing Minister Noel Ahern made representations on behalf of Ms Peavoy; after she was told her heating would not be reconnected.

She was found dead in her Ballymun flat on January 11 last year. Gardai who arrived at the scene noted the flat was “freezing”.

Following the shocking inquest, a doctor has called for a public inquiry into the death of the mother-of-two.

A preliminary hearing at Dublin City Corner’s Court was told of Rachel’s appeals for help to heat her flat.

The inquest was told that less than a month before she died of the cold, the young mother had gone to her doctor and asked for a letter for heating costs.

Housing Minister Noel Ahern also made a plea to the council on her behalf. The court heard that the council told the young mother that it was ‘impossible’ to restore heating because flats around her were vacant and because regeneration work was ongoing.

The case involved “a young woman with no other system disorder” dying of hypothermia and there was “ample evidence” that the heating was not working, said Dr Ciaran Craven, who represented the family at the inquest.

Calling for a full inquiry into the death, Dr Craven told Coroner Dr Brian Farrell that the flat had been “perilously cold” on the night of the death.

He called for a full inquiry into the death.

The inquest was told Ms Peavoy suffered from back pain and had a borderline personality disorder.

 

Brother

She had last spoken to her mother, Celine, the day before she was found dead.

She had asked her mother to mind her two sons, Leon and Warren, and said she was turning her phone off because she could not sleep. The next day, after numerous attempts to contact Rachel, her brother Leon Peavoy and friend Jacqueline Johnston let themselves into her flat. They found her body in the main bedroom.

There was no representative from Dublin City Council at the hearing yesterday.

The inquest was adjourned until February 24 to obtain further statements about the conditions of Ms Peavoy’s flat.

hnews@herald.ie

– Alan O’Keeffe

———————

Saturday January 29 2011

DUBLIN City Council was yesterday accused of contributing to the death of a young mother, after the heating in her flat was allegedly disconnected in the depths of winter.

A preliminary hearing at Dublin City Corner’s Court into the death of Rachel Peavoy (30) was told that the young woman died from hypothermia and that continued appeals to turn back on her central heating fell on deaf ears.

The single mother of two sons from Shangan Road, Ballymun, was found dead in her flat not long after Christmas, on January 11, 2010.

The court heard that Housing Minister Noel Ahern made representations on behalf of Ms Peavoy; after she was told her heating would not be reconnected during the freak cold snap last January, which saw temperatures plummet well below zero.

The court heard that the council told the young mother that this was impossible because flats around her were vacant due to regeneration.

The case involved “a young woman with no other system disorder” dying of hypothermia and there was “ample evidence” that the heating was not working, council for the family Dr Ciaran Craven told the court yesterday.

Calling for a full inquiry into the death, Dr Craven told Dublin City Coroner Dr Brian Farrell that the flat had been “perilously cold” on the night of the death, a description supported by the garda who had examined the scene and noted the flat was “freezing”.

The court heard that Ms Peavoy had last spoken to her mother, Celine, the day before she was found dead.

She had asked her mother to mind her two sons, Leon and Warren, and said she was turning her phone off because she couldn’t sleep.

The next day, after numerous unsuccessful attempts to contact Ms Peavoy, her brother Leon Peavoy and friend Jacqueline Johnston let themselves into her flat.

Ms Johnston found the body of her friend in the main bedroom, the court was told.

There was no representative from the council in the court at the time.

The case was adjourned until February 24 in order to obtain further statements about the conditions of Ms Peavoy’s flat.

– Luke Byrne

Irish Independent

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