Respond Website

Family Support Services

Our family support service dedicates its time to those with learning disabilities and/or autism and their families who have been affected by institutional abuse and trauma.

We are able to provide counselling both in our clinic (based in London) and over the phone, we offer group work which gives families the opportunity to meet others in similar situations as themselves, advocacy and advice to families who have loved ones living in residential care, assessment treatment units as well as families bereaved through 'death by indifference'.

Our work is based on the principle of empowerment, we work with families supporting them with both practical as well as the emotional impact of the situation.

If you would like to find out more about the service, make a referral, or speak to someone in the team please email  or call 020 7383 0700 making sure you have left your name and number.  We aim to respond to all enquiries within 7 days.

Please contact Liz Gow for more details on this service.

Anyone wishing to contact the helpline who does not have access to email should be advised to call the main Respond number on 0207 383 0700 and leave a brief message with the administrator (name, telephone number and wish to access the helpline) to receive a call back, you will be called back as soon as possible by someone from the Family services.

Outcome of investigation of Abuse at Atlas

Respond is pleased that the police investigation into abuse of people with learning disabilities and Autism at the Atlas Care Homes has broken new ground through bringing charges against not just those direct care workers abusing the people in their care, but all the way up to owners, directors and senior managers, who allowed a culture of abuse to exist.  Dr Noelle Blackman, CEO, said 'We need to make sure all people with learning disabilities and or Autism who are victims of systemic abuse, and their families, get the right support so that this trauma does not continue to affect the rest of their lives'.

You can read the press release here

Under Lock and Key - Dispatches Channel 4, 1 March 2017, 10-11pm

If you are seeking support following the Dispatches Programme 'Under Lock and Key', The Respond support line is open 10.00am to 4.00pm on Thursdays during March.  Outside of these times, please read the following document: Support for families

Noelle Blackman, CEO of Respond says 'It is frankly shocking that six years after Winterbourne View, appalling abuses continue to be perpetrated against people with learning disabilities in Assessment and Treatment Units. ATUs have singularly failed people with learning disabilities and their families: these institutions do not meet the complex care needs of the people sent there, frequently causing serious harm to people in incredibly vulnerable situations that in too many instances has led to their preventable deaths'.

Respond's response to Dispatches 'Under lock and key' 1Mar17.pdf

My Life, My Marriage - ending forced marriage of people with learning disabilities

Looking back over the years, it became clear to the Respond team that there were situations of people with learning disabilities being married, or getting engaged to be married, that did not feel right.  Then it started to dawn that these may be cases of forced marriage, and that there are situations where people with learning disabilities are vulnerable to forced marriage.

What is Respond doing to end forced marriage?

For the last ten years or so, Respond has been raising awareness, training and campaigning to end forced marriage and address the risk to people with learning disabilities.  The effort to end forced marriage directly engages people with learning disabilities, their parents and professionals about forced marriage.  In 2009, the Respond Action Group, an advisory panel of people with learning disabilities to Respond, developed an accessible booklet that was generously supported by the Home Office.

As the campaign progressed and more sophisticated intelligence was available on forced marriage, it became clear that some communities within certain cultures and traditions were particularly high risk for people with learning disabilities.  They might be vulnerable to be forced into marriage within their families, and that their vulnerability is exploited for financial reasons, visas or residential status.  Research indicates that the incidence of forced marriage is vastly under-reported.

My Life, My Marriage was launched in 2015 to focus greater resource and attention on ending forced marriage.  With funding from Trust for London, the project engages people with learning disabilities, their parents and community leaders from high risk communities on forced marriage to recognise the warning signs, to understand 'capacity to consent' and to increase understanding of safe and healthy relationships.  Professionals and key stakeholders across all sectors are trained in safeguarding people at risk, legislation and on cultural appropriateness and faith sensibility.

My Life My Marriage leaflet

My Life, My Marriage is active in four London Boroughs, i.e. Newham, Tower Hamlets, Camden and Waltham Forest.  The project has succeeded in establishing strong links with the high risk affected communities of Bangladeshi, Pakistani and Indian in these boroughs.  Feedback with users of our service indicates positive improvements in knowledge, a more skilfull, sensitive approach and a changed attitude towards people with learning disabilities and the risk of forced marriage.

There remains much to be done to change attitude and behaviour....

For the past decade, Respond has educated, informed, influenced and campaigned to change hearts and minds to bring an end to forced marriage.  Forced marriage, particularly as it affects people with learning disabilities, continues to be one of the least understood forms of violence that requires considerable research and a robust local response.

Research is essential to ending forced marriage and Respond is delighted to be a research partner on My Marriage My Choice.  This is a two year study, funded by the National Institute for Health Research - School of Social Care Research lead by the University of Nottingham in association with University of Kent and the Ann Craft Trust


For more information and questions about My Life My Marriage, please contact Luthfa Khan, Project Lead on 0207 874 5486 or email Luthfa Khan

My Life My Marriage at Conferences and Events

2 November 2016 - Sharing Good Practice and Learning Across Europe: A day of discussion with international speakers on 'honour' based violence, forced marriage and female genital mutilation'.  Organised by IKWRO, London

16 November 2016 - Faith, Disability and Safeguarding National Conference. Organised by Include Me Too, Leicester