My name is Tom Bell. This website tells the story of my sister Alison. It is an increasingly familiar but worryingly believable story of an abuse of trust by the Public Services we pay for, services in which we place our trust and to whom we entrust the care of our most vulnerable loved ones.
This is a picture of our family at my christening in 1968, my sister Alison is the fidgeting redhead holding her Dad’s hand and by all account’s she was well on her way to the terrible twos. My mother and father split up when I was three, Alison was five and Sarah was seven.
My sister Alison was caring and very intelligent, the kind of person who didn’t seem to have to try hard to get good grades. She could read music and drove us to distraction playing the violin. She was a gentle soul who was loyal to her friends. In the 1980’s, as a young woman in her late teens, just like one in four other people in the UK every year, Alison started to experience Mental Health problems. Unfortunately, my sister’s episodes became increasingly severe and in 1987 she was admitted to a Mental Health hospital in Carlisle called the Garlands.
Alison was an extremely vulnerable, shy, and increasingly disturbed young woman. We entrusted her to the NHS in Cumbria, thinking she would get the professional help she so needed. If we knew then what we know now, we would have kept Alison away from that place at any cost.