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Disabled Man Thrown from Train and Beaten

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11:11am 30th May 2012
(Updated 11:11am 30th May 2012)

Pirate FM has learnt how a St Mawes man with learning disabilities was beaten and thrown from a train by a gang.

Mark Lindsey-Hall is helping front a new DVD to raise awareness of abuse against vulnerable adults, after years of suffering.

Last year, Cornwall Council dealt more than 800 referrals across the Duchy.

That is up 17% on 2010.

Mark says, "The guys kicked me out of the train and my body sailed all the way along the platform until the train stopped. I was so weak I couldn't get to the phone. I went to my gran's and my gran couldn't recognise me.

"People should have the confidence and the right to go where they want to go in life and be free. Without somebody behind you being threatening, or tormenting, or telling you what you are when you're not".

Now leaflets are being handed out at GPs surgeries and posters going up at bus stops and billboards, with a link to upload an awareness video to a mobile phone.

"If you see something, say something" is encouraging anybody being abused or who thinks a friend or family member is being mistreated, to come forward.

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Officials say there are a number of different kinds of abuse:

  1. Neglect which can include not looking after someone who is dependant properly by failing to provide access to health, social care or educational services or deliberatively withholding food, drink or medication.
  2. Psychological abuse, which can range from emotional abuse and physical cruelty, threats, verbal abuse, bullying and harassment to deliberately isolating someone from their friends and family or withdrawing their services or support.
  3.  Discriminatory abuse, including racist, sexist, or abuse based in a person's disability, and other forms of harassment, slurs or similar treatment.
  4. Financial abuse, including taking someone's money without permission, forcing them to spend their money against their wishes or pressuring them to change their wills.
  5. Institutional abuse, including neglect or poor professional practice in a health or social care setting, ranging from an isolated incident of poor or unsatisfactory professional practice to pervasively treatment or gross misconduct.

Rob Cooper is Chairman of the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Safeguarding Adults Board.

He says, "Everyone has the right to live their lives free from violence, fear and abuse and achieving this is not solely the responsibility of social workers, health professionals or the police.

"While the majority of us would do something if we saw a vulnerable adult being physically attacked in front of us, research shows we are much less likely to take action if we suspect someone we know is being abused or neglected. There may be a number of reasons for this - fear of getting it wrong, not wanting to get involved or simply not knowing what to do or who to talk to. But, whatever the reason for this, we need to change this attitude.

"We wanted to make a film which raises awareness of the issue of abuse and provides information and advice on how to recognise the signs and what to do if you suspect someone is being abused.

"Our aim is for as many people as possible across Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly to watch the three minute film and to use social media to reach people other campaigns don't reach. We will be using facebook and twitter and people will even be able to use the QR code - 'black and white box' - on the posters to watch the film on their smart phones while they are waiting for the bus!"

Of the 800 new safeguarding referrals made last year 55% involved older people, with almost a quarter concerning people over 85 years.

20% of the new cases involved people with a learning disability.

36% of last year's cases of alleged abuse in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly involved physical abuse, 35% involved psychological abuse and 25% financial abuse.

Former marine Mark Hewitt produced the film, and says, "After being selected to produce this film, during the interviews at times I was shocked and surprised at some of the accounts of abuse I was told about.

"Having worked in many third world counties we often think these things don't happen in our community. We hope this film goes some way to highlighting this, raising awareness and making a difference".

Anyone who does not have someone they can talk to is being urged to phone the special unit set up to handle safeguarding adults on 0300 1234 131.

11:11am 30th May 2012

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