Guest On BBC Newscast

It was a real treat to be invited as a guest for BBC Newscast with Jane Garvey and Greg James . Our discussion was Anti Vaxxers and how for the Autistic community Anti Vaccine mindsets are something we have dealt and struggled with for decades . With a new Cornavirus vaccine in the pipeline what concerns to resistance does this bring ?

You can listen to BBC newscast here .

05 August 2020

Accessible Health Screenings (Sept 19)


I am writing to you after taking a break from a dot-to-dot quiz type book on a Friday morning evening from the comfort of my sofa, 24 hours after having a LLETZ procedure. For those amongst you who have had this procedure before, or those following my now slightly regrettable choice to LIVE TWEET my smear journey, you’ll know it’s a loop procedure to remove abnormal cervical cells caught on a smear test.

In my case, that was an overdue smear test which I put off for almost a year with anything and everything coming before my own health.

I am a single parent of three, two of my daughters are autistic, I am self-employed, have a massive mortgage and I home educate my kids. All of this, plus my cat’s vet appointment to prevent him getting ticks came BEFORE ME on the list of priorities.

Parents and carers – we NEED TO PUT OURSELVES FIRST SOMETIMES!

Staying safe with screenings

This rather stark wake-up call of ‘High Grade, Severe Dyskaryosis’ got me thinking, not sleeping and doing better research than the FBI on cervical screening, abnormal cells and early cervical cancer data. What I learned from this, among many other things, was a higher risk of abnormal cervical cell treatment for:

A woman who had sexual intercourse at an early age

Women who had given birth before the age of 17

Women who had had multiple partners

Women who had HPV

Now, being autistic (as with many autistic adults), my brain is visual. As a child this made me particularly skilled at dot-to-dot books, where completion took seconds, regardless of the fact I also have dyscalculia and struggle to read numbers. As a young adult, this quality helped me recall events and discussions due to an almost photogenic precision with customers at work; as an older adult is a vital part of my work, meaning I can almost dig out what was then considered a useless fact or statistic and realise it was perhaps the missing number or dot to see the bigger picture. This is a skill that’s imperative when working with strategy, policies and loophole finding!

Now all this sounds rather grand, but as the wise autism consultant Sarah Hendrix says in her Autism and Girls talks ‘your intelligence won’t keep you safe.’

And sadly, she’s right. In 2016 I ran an informal survey online with 88 autistic adults. 91% reported experiencing abuse prior to diagnosis. Now I know for everyone, and most of all parents, reading this it is a worrying statistic, but the silver lining is that 73% said after diagnosis and/or subsequent support they either experienced no abuse or felt able to report the abuse.

Inclusive sex and relationships education

In that the same year, I attended the United Nations and pleaded for better Sex Education for home educated girls who often miss out on not only everyday learnings but also Sex Ed, safeguarding and immunisations, including HPV.

September 16th-20th is Sexual Health Awareness Week 16th. The theme of the awareness week this year is inclusivity; relationships, sex and disability.

It gives me great joy that disability is a core part of this year’s theme. And that My Family, Our Needs is giving it the attention it deserves with some must-read articles lined up for the awareness week. Make sure you don’t miss them.

The theme of the United Nations Sustainable Developmental Goals ‘No one left behind’ must be in the mindset of all policies. This doesn’t need to be disability focused or specific, it just needs to find the hardest to reach and work from that position outwards.

When we reach the hardest to reach, we reach everyone else along the way.

Have a look at these statistics:

19-31% of disabled women access smear tests as opposed to the 73% of general population.

Autistic adults have an average life expectancy of 37-53 years.

Disabled people are being left behind and things must be done to ensure they are included in every aspect of life. We must not assume that children with disabilities do not grow up to be adults with sex lives.

(We do!)

The bigger picture is how to make that a consenting, positive, safe and healthy experience for them?

article my family our needs


14 June 2020

Public appointments And Inclusion (Article )

Carly in Whitehall
Carly in Whitehall

I’ve been talking to Government departments on why we need boards and panels in the UK that are representative of the people it serves. We need disabled professional board panels as standard.

It’s not only the right thing to do but the smart thing to do; it saves time, money and lives.

Advocacy

Advocacy is the only job I can think of where your actual role is hoping your role will never be needed again. If you do it right, eventually you’ll work your way out of a job.

I hope by the time your children are adults, this article will feel 100 years out of date because the educational system, GCSEs and the like will have evolved beyond recognition.

The role of being an advocate means wearing many hats. In the morning you could be writing an article for the Financial Times about the legislative loopholes in Fintech and DVLA policy which leaves the UKs most vulnerable exposed to financial abuse. In the afternoon, you may have an appointment at the office giving Safeguarding training with the parents and preteen girl who’s been victim to an assault. Sunday morning you could be cleaning up the mess of the autism youth club and first thing Monday you could be in a suit addressing the United Nations.

A bizarre self-inflicted life choice for an autistic woman whose very condition itself yearns for routine.

However, I have found a haven in Government public appointments. The Commissioner for Public Appointments’ Annual Report was published last week, and it is a must-read for all public bodies committed to diversity and inclusion. With 6% of new appointments being made to individuals declaring a disability, the report highlights that there is still a long way to go when it comes to under-representation in public appointments.

However, the process to apply is very autism friendly and the roles tend to be more routine driven. I’ll be honest, I was surprised I was given the roles, although my work has reached the United Nations, Washington DC and Cambridge University. I left school at 15, pregnant, homeless with no GCSEs and therefore I lack a sparkling education history on my CV. The government public appointments website for such panels, however, invite applicants to send a cover letter and personal statement to support their CV. Without this, people like me would be left behind and it is a shame for other departments and organisations that don’t follow this model as appointing an autistic professional may be one of the smartest moves a manager can make.

The Nolan principals

It was during this work that I was forwarded the 7 principles of public life, also known as the Nolan principals. These form the basis of the ethical standards expected of public office holders:

Selflessness

Integrity

Objectivity

Accountability

Openness

Honesty

Leadership

All talents not academically tested, all fundamental qualities of public appointments and all a predisposition naturally hardwired into the autistic mindset. I thought of my daughters and the young autistic people I support and struggled to think of one who didn’t have these 7 principles, without even trying.

So, what if our UK schools tested our children on these Public Service traits? What if there was a GCSE in kindness? What if you could obtain A levels in integrity, honesty and leadership? More importantly what if ALL employers sought to employ those who naturally live by the Nolan principals? What if ALL employees looked past the academic history and were more interested in what the university of life had taught you? What would the prospects be for our children that naturally possess these traits that cannot be taught or bought?

What a disservice to effectiveness, our boards and our budgets to not understand the importance of embracing them?

I’ve said before that I believe autistic perspectives are the UKs untapped oil. I don’t think that anymore – I KNOW IT.

If you could create a new GCSE for your child what would it be?

What accessibility measure would your child need to be able to learn effectively? I home educate my secondary school age daughter as school just didn’t work for her. She, like myself, seems to be able to write and read more constructively at 5am rather than 2pm. There are also days when the sensory issues of school would build up to such a degree that a day off was required. What struck me was that the day off would never be to laze around but, in fact, she would want to learn on the laptop or in the library and the like. Is the educational system missing a trick? What if, just like many jobs, we could have nationally supported and universally funded flexitime at school? Or remote schooling?

Or simply, mental health days off for our young people to restock, recharge or redirect their hours of learning into a subject matter they adore and will one day make a career of? A career they gained not because of their GCSEs but because of their success at the university of life?

my family our needs article Oct 19

14 June 2020

Carer Article -Being Relationship Savvy

When your world consists of being responsible for someone spectacular who relies on you for the kind of understanding and care only you can provide almost every hour of your day (and night), the meaning of Valentine’s Day may change dramatically. 

If you’re a part of a couple or married, Valentine’s Day may look like attempting to have a meal together at home once your young person is asleep. If you’re a single parent, it may be a case of celebrating Valentine’s Day not in a romantic fashion but in a family oriented way; making cards and buying gifts for your children and the special meal still being the routine chicken nuggets and chips but this time you’ve made a heart shape with the ketchup. This pretty much sums up the Valentine’s Days I have experienced for the past decade. I say past as my daughters are now older, all either in their 20s, late teens or vastly approaching the teens. Autistic or not, as a parent your mind races back to when you were their age you recall your memories of such a time and either smile with nostalgia or hold your stomach with the realisation of just how young you were when you first dated, had sex and, in my case, gave birth! 

The esteemed advocate Sarah Hendrix says, ‘your intelligence will not keep you safe’ and I repeat her quote to almost every young woman I work with in my advocacy office in Arborfield, Berkshire. 

Even the most sparkling bright autistic minds will struggle to predict or understand someone’s agenda and are wildly vulnerable to being used.

When dating and sexual relationships start it’s oh so easy to assume that this young woman before me in the office who has a vocabulary that dictionaries would envy and an accent straight out of a Harry Potter film is equipped with the knowledge to embark on the more serious side of dating.

Months later, of course, we are back in the office with a heart-breaking tale of how she was being used, or how she is pregnant but didn’t know until it was ‘too late to seek an abortion.’ Perhaps a tale about how he robbed her family, or used her as a scapegoat for a crime his pals committed, how they set her family’s house on fire or how they forced themselves upon her and made her feel it was ok as she was their ‘girlfriend?’ 

These may sound farfetched, but these are all cases I have worked with in just the last year. 

All from the most incredibly talented, capable and independent autistic young women I’ve had the honour to meet. 

So why the gap? 

We need the educational system to fill the gap in relationship and health education whereby females on the autistic spectrum are all too often left behind. The reasons for this are wide and varied, however research shows that sadly 91%* of autistic adults had experienced some form of abuse before their autism diagnosis, support and self-awareness.

Research also showed that after diagnosis, support and self-awareness, up to 73%* of autistic adults questioned had been safer, either as they had not experienced abuse or had the self-awareness to spot abuse, prevent it or report it in a timely fashion. 

Why do autistic young people face challenges in reporting abuse? 

Social imagination is NOT the same as traditional imagination. Traditional imagination is a great ability that anyone can be lucky enough to be blessed with. Traditional imagination is at the root of all artists, poets, engineers, architects, planners, actors, script writers, authors, film makers… the list is endless. 

Social imagination is NOT the same as traditional imagination. Traditional imagination is a great ability that anyone can be lucky enough to be blessed with. Traditional imagination is at the root of all artists, poets, engineers, architects, planners, actors, script writers, authors, film makers… the list is endless. 

I know MANY autistic people with the above talents and careers! 

What social imagination is, in brief, is the ability to predict, or see consequence of our own or other’s actions, or events or the ending of a story or plan. We struggle with that a great deal. 

So how can we really have the same ability to safeguard ourselves in new events, experiences, places with perhaps new people with different experiences and places? 

If we can’t easily see a good/advantageous result/consequence to our or other’s plans, can we really enjoy those plans? 

If we can’t easily see a bad/disadvantageous result/consequence to our or other’s plans, can we really be cautious enough with those plans? 

Have you ever played the paper game consequences?

It’ s a really good game for young people and a parent/trusted adult to play. 

It involves using a pen and paper to write a story, each person in the game taking turns to write a line of the story, then folding paper without the other person seeing it. This normally make a funny story that actually makes no sense and, whilst it is light-hearted fun, it’s a great tool to show how two different people have two very different ideas about what is going to happen next!  

You will need to decide who is player 1 and who is Player 2.

The words in bold are where you create whatever name/place/event you wish…

(null) Player 1 writes a boy’s name, then folds the paper, passing it to player 2. 

(null) Player 2 writes met girl’s name then folds the paper, passing it back to player 1.

(null) Player 1 then writes in/at/on orwherever player 1 decides where they met.

(null) Player 2 then writes he said whatever player 2 wants him to say

(null) Player 1 then writes she said whatever player 1 wants her to say

(null) Player 2 then writes he did whatever player 2 wants him to do

(null) Player 1 then writes she did whatever he wants her to do then folds paper and passes back to player 2. 

(null) Player 2 writes the consequence was .. and player 2 writes the consequence which becomes the end result of the meeting.

Then the fun part – the story can be read out loud! 

Did it surprise you how differently we can think about an event to other people? 

Did it help to show how unpredictable our plans can be? 

Is it important to ask questions before agreeing to take part in an event? 

Were there also nice/happy surprises in the game that you also did not expect or predict? 

Perhaps this Valentine’s Day, after the chicken nuggets and ketchup heart have been devoured and the chocolates are being shared, a family game of consequences could be the biggest gift you could give those you love most? 

Carly x

14 June 2020

Autism ,Communication And Coronavirus


I normally start my monthly column with a ‘so, how’s your month going?’ I don’t think that really applies this month because we all know how it’s going. The coronavirus pandemic has left us feeling vulnerable, scared and frustrated. It’s hit our hearts, health and pockets like nothing our generation has experienced before. 

The self-isolation and, maybe by the time this article is published, complete lockdown of our country has also highlighted other aspects of our way of living as individuals and families.  

Communication

Being isolated with only your absolute immediate family, you may imagine communicating would be easy. This time will, of course, make our needs become more apparent whether as a carer, parent, spouse, child or sibling. 

With little or no opportunity for personal space or alone time, how will this affect autistic families and what are some tips for communication (yet to be tested to THIS degree but well tested in less pressing circumstances) at this uncertain time for autistic families? Here are mine…

Emotions take time 

Many autistic people, both children and adults, can struggle with processing and showing their emotions in a timely fashion. They may not be able to communicate how they are feeling right now in that moment. They may use over working, researching, thinking of theories or ways to help as a logistical coping mechanism. They may also go into a state of shutdown. Our feelings do however catch up with us, so please be patient and understanding both now and when we feel ready and able to communicate our feelings. 

Drawing is a language 

Art is a great educational tool, a form of therapy and a way to communicate. If you have the space and the materials, leave a table or sideboard with pens, paper, paint or clay on, available for art at any time anybody feels like being creative. Your family members’ creations are often a good way of seeing what’s going on with them on the inside and it helps them communicate without having to start a conversation. 

Anger is a language

If your autistic loved one struggles with meltdowns rather than shutdowns, these may be escalating during the pandemic. Not easy for A parent or caregiver and not easy for them either. Having a ‘meltdown plan’ in place to safeguard the whole family can be a useful thing to plan in advance. Make sure the other adults in the family are aware and agree on what action to take if it happens. It may be that you make one room safe and free of anything a person in crisis could hurt themselves with and keep that as a safe space in the event of a meltdown whilst you’re in self isolation.

It could be that you plan for the recovery period of a meltdown too by considering the following:

(null) What does mum and dad need to recover? 

(null) What helps the siblings? 

(null) What sensory environment can help an autistic family member recover?

(null) Perhaps most pressing; what sensory environment can be agreed whilst your family in isolation to ensure your autistic family member doesn’t have to reach distress and crisis in the first place? Anger is a language. Remember, ‘the people who need the most love will ask for it in the most unloving ways.’ 

Have no speaking days if it helps

Dry wipe boards, What’s app or paper and pen are all ways to communicate. Do whatever works for you. Sometimes a mutually agreed day of no talking and no expectation of speech can be a real healer for autistic people. 

Animals as therapy 

As an ambassador for Dogs for Autism charity, I know how unique and vital the relationship between a service dog or a family pet can be for the whole household. Making time for that relationship to grow, be it with a dog, cat, hamster or tortoise, is one way of seeing a silver lining in these depressing times. Maybe learn knew ways for your loved one to communicate with their animal friend?

A family is a circuit board 

At the risk of showing off my very autistic mind, I liken families to a circuit board – you will always have a live wire and in many families more than one! But to ensure a tight knit circuit doesn’t completely blow up and dysfunction, we need to sometimes be the neutral even if our natural predisposition isn’t. When we can’t control the frequency and energy of others, we can choose to lower our own voltage and keep things going. 

This is not the time to limit screen time 

Parents often feel the right and healthy thing to do is limit screen time, phone and Xbox use. These are, for many autistic people young and old, our greatest ways of communicating. Times like these, where anxiety is high and we are all stuck at home is no time to start restricting these types of things. You can of course get sneaky with it like I do. Why not ask your young person to make up a story by shouting out what’s happening in their game onto audio notes on their phone? At the end of play they’ll have an action packed story to print off and then spell check.  

Time to write 

If verbal communication isn’t your thing, why not get those note books you couldn’t resist buying but haven’t actually used? Write that story, play, poem or song you have always wanted to. These are great ways to communicate and, remember, you don’t have to be perfect at something to enjoy it!

Create 

Boredom is the foundation of all creation! Vent these feelings in a positive way by getting creative! There are lots of things going around on social media which are interactive and creative, such as fun YouTube drawing tutorials or craft sessions for kids.   

Dance 

So much at the moment is banned but music and dance isn’t. I expect there will be many kitchen discos in the coming days and weeks. Dancing is a great was to communicate and release pent up feelings, just don’t live stream it parents ok…? 

Wishing you all the very best health and happiness at this time. 

In solidarity, 

Carly and the girls xxxx

my family our needs Article link

14 June 2020

Autism Assistance Dogs


Some might think it’s odd to train your own assistance dog. I mean, surely the point of having an assistance dog is to make an already difficult life easier? And we all know there is nothing harder than training a puppy. 

So, yes, it might seem illogical. Or perhaps bewildering to those not within what I call the ‘inner circle’ to think, why would a single, self-employed mum  with children with disabilities who she cares for, who struggles with home education and childcare, oh, and who is writing a safeguarding book, get a puppy on top of all of that? I guess this is the one time, or one of the rare times, where as an autistic person, I’m seeing the much bigger picture.

Safeguarding my daughter’s future

I’m not only drawing on my own experiences as a teen, but also on the support that I’ve been giving young teen girls who are autistic, or on the autistic pathway. The mentoring I’ve given to support them through some of their darkest times has shown to me why, actually, I now need to put in the hard work. Before my youngest daughter becomes a teenager, I need to use this time, however busy I am, as an opportunity to lay a good foundation to ensure that when she’s a teen, she has that assistance she needs in the form of an assistance dog.

My youngest daughter has always been fascinated with dogs. Before she could talk, she would woof that she loved dogs and Slinky Dog from Toy Story has always been an absolute favourite. Then I learnt more about the wider assistance dog services. I mean, all I used to know about was guide dogs, or maybe medical detection dogs or police sniffer dogs. But in the last 12 years of advocacy, and even more so in the last two or three years where I’ve been working with all different types of disabilities, I’ve learnt that it’s not just for the physical disabilities that an assistance animal can help.

I’ve met people from all over the country and all over the world who have assistance animals, and in particular, assistance dogs. I have also met a lot who are on waiting lists for Dogs for Autism. Unfortunately, due to COVID-19, a lot of their funding has collapsed. I still support Dogs for Autism. I think they do incredible things. But for me, the need was a little bit more pressing and it can take up to two years to train an assistance dog. My daughter is 12. And I was hoping to have an assistance dog and placed her by the time she was 13. So, what did I do next? I thought, I know, I’ll get a working dog breed. And I’ll train them up by myself. That sounds quite grand and, really, it’s not by myself at all. Yes, sure, I’m doing all the sleepless nights and the stuff in the day, but there is support available and Dogs for Autism have been on the end of the phone for me when I needed them.

Dr Julia Leatherhead has been at the other end of numerous text messages, offering tips and support. We have weekly public access training, by an incredible public access dog trainer Daniele Gardener, which of course due to lockdown is via Zoom at the moment.

Putting the work in

I’m not afraid to say that it’s been really tough. I expected it to be hard work. I was told it would be like having a baby again and being up all night, which in some cases it certainly has, for the first four days at least. But the improvements I’ve seen have already helped and not just in the way I expected. Obviously, our puppy is only 13 weeks old. Incredibly jumpy, a little bit nippy, but nothing which isn’t normal for a dog that age. Our dog is a lab collie cross – I don’t know if anyone knows about labs and collies, but labs tend to enjoy their food and collies are really high octane. They are busy, workaholic dogs which mean that they’re up early in the morning and they go to bed late at night. Great for a working dog. Not so great for a single mum, but we’re getting there. The upside is collies are incredibly bright. At only 13 weeks old, Hunter, our assistance dog in training, is able to sit and lay down. And he’s able to leave it. Not bad, really, considering that we’ve only had him here for around about a week and a half to two weeks now. He’s making incredible progress and we’ve got a way to go but at the moment, I am teaching him to give feedback when he sees someone he knows as opposed to a stranger.

A brain wave

When I was walking the dog, I noticed that he was excited to see strangers ,but just wagged his tail, yet when he saw someone he knew (a neighbour or another household member) he wagged his tail and also made a crying sound.

 And I thought, wow, he has great human facial recognition. That’s really useful and although he’s doing it himself instinctively, I wondered if I could enhance that with rewards? See, many autistic people are vulnerable as we have prosopagnosia which is difficultly recognising people we know. We often rely on what someone wears, their hair style and uniforms to recognise them. So we often compensate for this by pretending we know someone, even if we aren’t sure we do, because, after all, it’s OUR ‘problem.’ The sad reality of this is that if someone wanted to pretend to know us and confuse us, they could easily do so. This can make autistic adults and young people very vulnerable when they are out without a chaperone, so what if I could train my dog to do this for us?

If we could train dogs to recognise and sound out when it’s someone the handler knows and trusts, we could help safeguard autistic people young and old by ensuring they listen to the dog’s feedback when approached by people outside.

Being a responsible owner

There’s no issue with people training their own assistance dogs. At the minute, anybody can train their own assistance dog. First, we wanted to go down the private training. And we’re going down the private public access route, because I want to know that this dog is absolutely safe and responsible in every public access area possible. On top of that, you have to make sure you’ve got the right insurance and pet insurance is not the cheapest of things.

But for a working dog, you can’t get pet insurance because they’re not covered. They’re a working dog, they’re not a pet. And that’s been quite hard for us on an emotional and logical level to understand. On top of that, you then have to have public liability insurance, which isn’t as expensive as the vet insurance, which I assumed would be the other way around.

The hardest bit at the minute is trying to socialise them. Obviously we’re locked down, and by now I should be taking him on trains or buses. I should be able to go up to other dog owners and speak to them a bit more. But actually the social distancing, as these public access trainers said, isn’t always a bad thing because we don’t really want an assistance dog to be jumping over another dog excitedly when he sees them. What if I was working in an office with my daughter with me and somebody had a guide dog, or there was a police dog? We have to travel a lot with my work. What if we were at the airport and there was a drug sniffer dog, and he decides to playfully lick it, or hump it like the cushion at home? We don’t want that. So, lockdown is proving perfect opportunity because he’s able to be taken past other dogs in the street, but it’s more of a friendly acknowledgement than a ‘hello, how are you?’

I guess for anyone reading who is considering this; I wouldn’t change it for the world. I know the short term plan looks insane, but the long term plan will be an absolute lifesaver. And I really want to highlight the word lifesaver.

Carly x

Carly’s Article “Training an Assistance Dog in Lockdown “

14 June 2020

COVID-19 Autism and Fraility Score

(quote from NICE article March 25th 2020)

”Patient groups and representatives were concerned that applying the score to people with learning disabilities, autism and other stable long-term disabilities, would put them at a disadvantage when decisions were made about admission to critical care in this time of intense pressure. 

The NHS Specialist Clinical Frailty Network has since updated their advice on using the CFS, stating that it should not be used in isolation to direct clinical decision making and that clinicians should take any decisions about care in conjunction with patients and their carers where possible. 

The new advice also includes a clarification that the tool should not be used in certain groups, including those with learning disabilities or with stable long-term disabilities such as cerebral palsy.

NICE has now (25 March) updated the rapid COVID-19 critical care guideline to reflect these clarifications and to emphasise the need to consider additional patient factors when interpreting the CFS score.”

https://www.nice.org.uk/news/article/nice-updates-rapid-covid-19-guideline-on-critical-care?utm_medium=social&utm_source=facebook&utm_campaign=covid19criticalcareupdate&fbclid=IwAR0EBIwez_yPpng9IyWBewb90T7SWO3QoCU6EVEggSbbDFdLPrs86C71NOk

26 March 2020

An urgent open letter to U.K. mortgage providers during the Coronavirus Pandemic

An urgent open letter to U.K. mortgage providers during the Coronavirus Pandemic . 

 

Coronavirus has hit us all hard here in the U.K. ,physically ,mental and for the majority of us financially.

 

As a a self employed advocate who works to safeguard the most vulnerable in society it’s a frustrating time ,the  dread of self isolation meaning I cannot safety provide the volunteer work I do to safeguard the Autistic adults and youths  I have a  duty of care to

 

I am pleading with you to step in and help me help others throughout the U.K. 

 

It’s times  like these where the UKs most vulnerable become the clear canaries in the coal mine . Everyone is affected  ,But they are affected harder and faster . 

 

Many of the Autistic adults and indeed non autistic adults I support have experienced ongoing financial abuse 

 

Many parents  I see on either a low to no paid  capacity simply because they have their savings ,home or mortgage tied up by an ex spouse who no longer pays towards these financial ties , but in exactly the way coercion works , ex spouse also refuses consent to cut such ties and free the other  of their financial connections to them. 

 

When our prime minister announced a  3 month mortgage holiday for  home owners my leap of happiness and  relief and was quickly met with sober  knowledge this would  not be easily achieved for single parent’s paying a  full mortgage that was historically taken out  as a joint application. 

 

This would hard hit  single parents ,Carers of disabled children , Autistic  adults who’ve escaped a controlling relationship ,those who struggle at interviews so have burned the candle at both ends to become successfully self employed and now workless in  a Pandemic, despite being driven to work hard to pay their way , are now trapped . 

 

Trapped because  even if you’ve  been the sole payee of your mortgage for 1,5,10,15 years whilst your ex spouse hasn’t ....you have to ask consent from the joint mortgage name who isn’t contributing to obtain a mortgage holiday . 

 

Even a government imposed one . 

 

I plea with all U.K. mortgage providers to help by doing the following .

 

1) Explaining Economic abuse is both painful and triggering . Should a customer explain they are a victim of such activity TAKE  EXTENSIVE NOTES and discuss these notes with whoever you need to  pass the customer onto  whilst they are on hold ,to save them retelling the story .

 

2) Make  your “triage “ number for exceptional cases public during the Pandemic  ,saving the customer having to explain the situation only to be tiered up to supervision and manager level . 

 

3) If a customer has a court order to show in relation to the claim ,or the land registry is in their sole name , this is an exceptional case that requires exceptional circumstances and no joint name consent should be sought . 

 

4) Historic mortgage payments are clearly stored on Mortgage statements, if a payment hasn’t been made by the ex spouse ,but has been paid in full by the applicant asking for a mortgage holiday you will have evidence that this is an authentic request .If the non paying party of joint application would have lost their home due to non payment I the time frame they refused to contribute ?,why ask their consent ? 

 

5) Refer to the Financial Abuse code of practice that many U.K. banks and buildings society’s have signed up to ,and abide by its phenomenal guidelines . https://www.ukfinance.org.uk/financial-abuse-code-practice

 

A home never becomes more important than in times of being housebound ,a home never becomes more vulnerable in these times too .

 

Thank you 

 

Carly Jones MBE FRSA

25 March 2020

National autistic society professionals Awards Host

04 March 2020

Recognised As One Of UKs Top Female Entrepreneurs 2020 House Of Lords

04 March 2020

Fellow Invitation For RSA

27 February 2020

Spectrum Live Gets Record Breaking Viewing Figures

25 January 2020

Artifical Intelligence And autism -Autistica summit Alan Turing institute London

18 October 2019

Joining Heathrow Accessibility Advisory group

Over the moon to be invited by Flying Disabled to join the Heathrow Accessibility Advisory Group to lend an Autistic perspective to flying and Airport Accessibility.

I am delighted to accept this kind invitation and hope to prove myself a hardworking and worthy advisor with strategies and ideas that really take off! *

*Pun absolutely intended

01 October 2019

POST Note October 2019

24 September 2019

As i Am Conference Dublin

24 September 2019

Population Reference Bureau Washington DC

It was a privilege to be invited to add testimony of the unique challenges faced by Autistic women and girls and safeguarding by the Population Reference Bureau.

The Population Reference Bureau Washington DC Is developing a multimedia “road map” presenting on How to better recognise the sexual health rights and needs of disabled women and youths and how to better respond to Sexual violence against disabled women and youths .

28 August 2019

Paperless Loans,Fintech and Economic Abuse

Casting a wider net from just Autism specific advocacy is always a great challenge however I feel that by using the Autistic perspective and experiences ,I hope I can then find loopholes to help many people in the UK lead happier and safer lives .It was due to my advocacy work with online safety and economic abuse that it has come to my attention that there may be a loophole in protecting vulnerable men and women from financial abuse .

Due to the photographic driving licence being an acceptable form of identification and proof of residence for many paperless online loan companies and banks there is a grey area .

It is possible for a perpetrator of financial abuse to fraudulently use a drivers licence in ex partners address for up to 10 years after leaving a shared property due to the DVLA not being able to remove an address ; only able to block an address at time of next renewal date (up to 10 years ) 

What can we do to close this gap ?

Can we warn paperless loan providers of this loophole ? 

Can we advertise to ex spouses to contact DVLA as soon as partner leaves shared home just as they would for council tax and tax credit purposes? 

Can we “freeze “ the ability to use photo licence when DVLA informed its being used incorrectly? 

Should there be higher penalties for those who use addresses fraudulently ? 


Can we make a photograph drivers licence renewal more regular? 


Could addresses be removed completely? 

I have attached a link to my article in the Financial Times in this subject here ,

https://www.ft.com/content/5d175518-9688-11e9-8cfb-30c211dcd229

10 July 2019

Rt Hon Peter Riddell CBE and Diverity In Public Appointments Films

10 July 2019