The Betsi website is trumpeting the achievements of volunteers from a charity called ‘Change Step’ who have ‘transformed’ the garden at the Ablett Unit and also worked on the garden at the Hergest Unit http://www.wales.nhs.uk/sitesplus/861/news/44509
‘Change Step’ is one the many offerings from CAIS, the money-making con founded and chaired by Dr Dafydd Alun Jones, which has been picking up a lot of contracts from local authorities in a very non-transparent way (please see post ‘The Story Behind £1.5 Million’), despite utterly failing to deliver the ‘services’ promised (please see post ‘So This Is What £4.9 Million Buys’). It is alleged that ‘Change Step’ is a support service for veterans with mental health problems and substance abuse problems – like CAIS, the service involves ‘peer supporters’ who are volunteers. Peer supporters understand you see – they’ve been through it all themselves. Furthermore Dafydd doesn’t have to pay them. Not a penny. They’re all volunteers. So why Dafydd and CAIS have to charge local authorities millions for their ‘services’ I do not know. I notice that the Change Step logo on their website is a footprint from a jackboot. The website also contains an inexplicable photo of two little babies – sandwiched between the biggest pair of jackboots that you’ve ever seen. A very appropriate bit of symbolism for an outfit in which Dafydd Alun Jones and Lucille Hughes are involved.
This blog has mentioned Dafydd and his dodgy businesses and charities many times before. Readers might remember my post ‘A Very Bad PR Man’ in which I describe how a man called Sean Tierney who was campaigning to keep one of Dafydd’s ‘nursing homes for veterans’ open told me that he was a former Major in the British Army who had sustained a spinal injury during the Falklands campaign and who had been successfully treated for PTSD by Dafydd. It transpired that this man had only been in the Army for a short time many years previously before being booted out, had shown me forged documents and it seems was in receipt of an Army pension which he alleged that Dafydd had secured for him. So someone was working a fiddle there. This man later tried to murder two of his neighbours and is now in prison. The ‘nursing home’ that Tierney was trying to save from closure, Ty Gwyn, was alleged to be treating veterans, but I heard two first-hand accounts suggesting that things at Ty Gwyn were not as Dafydd maintained. A friend of mine stayed at Ty Gwyn after Dafydd diagnosed him with PTSD – my friend maintained that he didn’t have PTSD and told Dafydd this and my friend has never served in the forces. Nonetheless he ended up in Ty Gwyn for which he was charged several thousand quid a week. He described it as a ‘mediocre boarding house’ in which he had to share a room (it’s good for the patients to have company, it enables them to ‘share experiences’ – it also enables Dafydd to make even more profit). He didn’t see Dafydd until he announced his intention to discharge himself, whereupon Dafydd turned up and announced that he needed at least ‘another three weeks’ to soak up the therapeutic vibes from the mediocre boarding house – which couldn’t even provide him with vegetarian food, he was told to go into Llandudno and buy takeaways. The other account that I heard regarding Ty Gwyn was from a nurse who had formerly worked for Dafydd and made a rapid escape (I’ve come across a number of former staff of Dafydd’s, all with interesting anecdotes to relate). He told me that most of the patients in Ty Gwyn didn’t have PTSD at all, they had drug and alcohol problems and had often ended up in trouble with the law after committing violent offences. They dossed down in Ty Gwyn for a few weeks and Dafydd would carry out his ‘assessment’, provide ‘treatment’, but most importantly of all Dafydd would provide a favourable Court report to get them out of trouble. This nurse also told me that a lot of the patients weren’t even veterans.
I notice that one of the Change Step volunteers providing comments for the feature on the Betsi website isn’t a veteran either. But there she is, a Change Step volunteer – for an organisation maintaining that it is ‘for veterans by veterans’. I notice that it is also mentioned on the feature that the Betsi are helping with Change Step’s ‘expenses’. So as ever with Dafydd, money is being handed over – even though it’s all being done for ‘charity’ by ‘volunteers’. The Change Step website has a bit of info directed at those wishing to donate money to this charity. It is well-known in the Third Sector that people will not donate to charities supporting drug users and it’s very difficult to raise money for causes related to mental health as well. But suffering former soldiers – I bet the dosh pours in which is probably why Dafydd entered this line of business. What about getting Prince Harry up to Llandudno to give you a bit of publicity then Dafydd? He can’t possibly be the sort of liability that Sean Tierney was.
There are two other organisations involved in this project at the Ablett Unit. One is Unllais, a ‘service users’ organisation that became notorious for it’s complete and utter failure to make representation concerning the abuse and neglect pervading the mental health services. Furthermore, Unllais was the organisation that lost out when the ‘service user/carer involvement’ contract was handed to CAIS recently. So now Unllais are assisting the organisation that shafted them – and there’s no mention of Unllais being given ‘expenses’. So how have Unllais been strong-armed into participating in all this? The other organisation involved in this bit of charity work is Watkin Jones, a building firm based in Bangor. One thing that anyone who’s ever lived in the Bangor area for any length of time will hear is that Watkin Jones are alleged to fall somewhere on a spectrum between cowboys and out and out crooks – there are also constant rumours that they have Masonic connections that allow them to pick up huge contracts and gain planning permission in circumstances that other builders in the area can’t. (But then Dafydd is alleged to have Masonic connections.) Furthermore, Watkin Jones new builds are infamous for developing problems within months – cracks down the walls/across ceilings, doors not hung properly etc. I knew someone a few years ago who invested in one of their ‘executive builds’ and the house almost fell apart within the first year. Watkin Jones tried to wash their hands of it but the family of the young woman whom they had fleeced were rather bigger and nastier and better connected than Watkin Jones – I understand that some fearsome threats were made and Watkin Jones decided that they’d better make good the damage.
There are a couple of other points worth making as well. The interior of the Ablett Unit is in a truly dreadful condition – and the standard of ‘care’ there is so poor that it was the neglect and abuse on a ward in that Unit that landed the Betsi in special measures and constituted one of the biggest mental health scandals that the UK had seen in recent years. So the garden is the last thing that anyone should be worrying about. Patients on the Tawel Fan Ward in the Ablett were crawling around in their own faeces and urine and one of them had an untreated broken arm – a garden is not going to mean much in those circumstances. As for the work that Dafydd’s slaves have done on the garden in the Hergest Unit – well there used to be a group of keen gardeners who maintained that and really enjoyed doing so. They were the patients of the whistleblowing occupational therapist who has featured on this blog before. The man who constantly tried to raise concerns as to the malpractice going on in that Unit, who was sent to Coventry by nearly all of the Hergest staff for doing so and who was eventually virtually prevented from working with any patients by the managers of the mental health services who were trying to ensure that his concerns about patient abuse and neglect were silenced. He took early retirement a few years ago after he could bear the aggro no more. So that’s probably why the gardening group bit the dust. Furthermore, shortly after he was hounded out, his junior colleague who worked as part of his team was dismissed after facing trumped-up charges. And before the whistleblower was hounded out, another member of his team had a stroke – in her late thirties. It was attributed to the stress that she suffered as a result of the bullying at work that she was subjected to by senior managers at Ysbyty Gwynedd. So the one functioning team of practitioners in the Hergest Unit was destroyed – and such is the paucity of care there that they’ve noticed that the garden needs doing rather than the patients dropping like lemmings.