Autistic man who returned to old home every day is housed

BY TOBY PORTER
toby@slpmedia.co.uk

An autistic man who visited his former home every day because he was desperate to return has been found a new one nearby.

Matthew Scott’s father PJ has thanked the South London Press after the newspaper ran a story last year pleading for him to be found a flat near his former home in Churchmoor Road, Streatham Vale.

Now housing officials have given him the keys to a place less than a mile away in Hopton Road, Streatham – and Matthew was so happy, he installed himself there without any furniture.

The 26-year-old, who has 24-hour care, slept on the floor or in a canvas deckchair at the property for a month before his dad was able to buy a second-hand bed, tables, chairs and other items for the flat.

His dad said: “Within a month of your story, he was offered a place we had spotted. Without your story, things would not have moved so quickly.

“It took ages to sort out because the town hall would not accept how much he needed it.

“Our lives were in limbo. Then we got the keys in September and everything changed. It was empty and Matthew used to visit it every day to make sure no one moved in.

“Then one morning, he said he would not leave – that he wanted to stay. We had to move everything in around him.

“The first thing I did was get the deckchair and he slept in it. Then I got a camp bed and he broke it. So he slept on a mattress on the floor.

“It was almost like he was squatting in his own place – it was empty but he had his own keys.”

His father also had to decorate the flat’s bedrooms, bathroom, kitchen and sitting room around his son. But the story has had a happy ending, thanks to the South London Press.

PJ had appealed for help for his son, whose mental health problems were mushrooming because of his obsession with living in Streatham, since his family moved out of there seven years ago.

In the intervening time, he would catch a bus and walk to the area from his current council house in Caldervale Road, Clapham, three-and-a-half miles away – whatever the weather.

Up until recently he was knocking on the door of the property.

But the resident soon became exasperated by the daily visits and demanded he stop.

So then Matthew just touched the gate to the property and then walked home again.

Every week about £160 of his care budget was being spent on travel for him and his two carers, who must remain with him at all times.

And if he met any obstacle at all, he would have a massive autistic tantrum and continue to do so until police were called – which could mean buses or trains having to stop for them to apprehend him, if he was in the middle of a journey.

Officers were called eight times during May last year – and because of his conditions, officers insisted on an ambulance crew being called as well.

He was taken to hospital eight times and sectioned four times – and would usually end up in a psychotic ward, which is not suitable for his condition.

But town hall housing officers had told him it would take more than nine months to process his application to move to another council home in the Streatham Vale area.

Matthew had become so distressed about the situation that he was served with a deprivation of liberty order (DLO) which allowed him to be locked in his home at night.

The latest social services support plan recognises his needs to live in Streatham Vale.

His dad, who lives in Clapham North, used to be a comedy entrepreneur but gave it up to look after his son. PJ, whose stage name is Robin Banks, was a pioneer of the London stand-up circuit, working initially with the likes of Leslie Crowther at the Talk of the Town.

He later ran the White Lion comedy club in Streatham, which helped a string of South London comics on the road to stardom, including Jack Whitehall, Harry Hill, Jo Brand and Jack Dee.

A Lambeth council spokesman said: “Lambeth council and our partners are committed to providing high-quality healthcare to all our residents, and we recognise that we have a particular responsibility to protect and support vulnerable children and adults through our social care services.

“We are also committed to providing quality homes for people in the borough, but we have to do this against the backdrop of financial restrictions and huge demand for council housing across the borough.”

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