Sam Downie — Speech at Bristol SEND Crisis Rally , 30th May 2019

Sam Downie
May 30, 2019 · 6 min read
Bristol SEND Crisis Rally , 30th May 2019

Introduction : Who am I ?

Local adult with Autism (Late diagnosis in October 2017), and Epilepsy (Diagnosed in 2004). Am a Neurodiverse Actor on Stage and Screen, trained at the Bristol Old Vic. Have over 25 years of experience including Acting on Doctor Who, Casualty, Coronation St, East Enders amongst others.

I also Present on TV and Radio, as a Host, a Co-Host, a Reporter and as a Voiceover — anything from Factual Entertainment, News, Music Documentries and Technology News. Things that inspire. I am able to deep-dive in to stories, and am able to bring out the roots of the story.

Just visit my website for examples of my works, at :

For acting, voiceover and presenting — I can now be cast on Spotlight, the home of Casting.

I am also a Neurodiverse Filmmaker. I’ve recently taken part in a local film project called Different Voices, where I made a short film called Unique Human. The project was led by Biggerhouse Film and 104 Films the leaders in Disability Film Production in the UK. My short films are now being screened at various International Film Festivals, such as Sheffield Doc/Fest, Encounters (Bristol), Bath Film Festival.. more information and films online at :

Visit :
Visit :

I am also a member of two unions — BECTU and UNITE.

With my dual diagnosis of Autism and Epilepsy, I am being investigated for a Rare Genetic Syndrome.

I was part of the Oliver McGowan campaign, Oliver was a teenager from Bristol with Autism and Epilepsy, he went into Hospital locally and was treated badly by medics who didn’t understand Autism and needs, zero reasonable adjustments were made. Oliver McGowan had a brilliant life. He enjoyed college, playing football and was an amazing athlete, in training to become a Paralympian. Oliver was fun and laughed a lot. He loved life and being with his family. He was very bright, achieving GCSE and BTEC qualifications. But on 11 November 2016, he died aged just 18 while in hospital care.

Visit the website for more information and to learn about the story here :

Also — like Oliver, I too have been treated badly by the NHS and not listened to. Like Oliver, I “was” treated by the same Doctors and Nurses at Southmead Hospital, the BRI and also UCLH at Epilepsy Society in London. I’ve found that a lot of NHS staff are just not trained to deal with a person with Autism or a LD, and this needs to change.

The SENDCrisis Rally took place in Bristol, on Thursday 30th May 2019 from 1pm-3pm, and it featured various speakers from all walks of life.

Watch the video of the speeches (including mine, here on #Facebook ) :

In my speech, I talked about the following points :

1. Local Council Problems.

The local LA (Bristol City Council) uses “Strengths-based” training, which is incompatible with the Care Act 2014. Therefore needs are being ignored, and laws and legislations are being broken, therefore you have to challenge the council services about this.

What is Strengths-based training ? Visit these links :

Documents to download :

What does the Care Act say about a strengths-based approach

The Care Act 2014 does not specifically give local authorities the duty to use a strengths-based approach in their practice as such.

It does however establish that they must or should perform their care and support functions in a particular way that is not dissimilar to, and incorporates the core elements of a strengths-based approach.

The ‘wellbeing principle’ and the core duty of ‘promoting individual wellbeing’ placed in local authorities exercising any care and support functions, emphasises the importance of working in a holistic way with the individual. Hence the description of ‘wellbeing’ detailing the nine areas that must be taken into account to consider individual wellbeing.The duty to promote individual wellbeing applies to any care and support function carried out by the local authority (i.e. any member of staff working for the local authority). It does not apply only to individuals who have been identified as having eligible needs, but to all individuals living in the local authority area.

This is the training that BCC and other LA’s use now, and this has to be challenged , as it affects both Adults and Children alike who need Social Care.

2. So, What to Do ? Well, you use the Law and various legislations (this is a solution)

First, write a complaint letter to the council, outline your needs, outline relevant laws and duty’s that have seem to be breached by the council and it staff (more on that shortly) do point these out, say what you want done and what needs you need in place. Also make sure you state that you would like a reply within 28 days, as this is a statutory and in Law.

What laws do you use ? — you can find them listed and in-detail at the following gov website :

They are:

- Equality Act 2010
- Autism Act 2009 (if related to Autism)
- Care Act 2014
- Public Sector Duty Act (as part of the Equality Act 2010) all LA’s, public services and the NHS have to follow this
- indirect discrimination by a public body and it’s staff, report this to the council and then to the police if relevant , as indirect discrimination especially indirect disability discrimination is a major breach in the law !

- The Human Rights Act 1998 , everybody is affected by Human Right’s and that also includes children. All Human Rights and its descriptors can be found on the Liberty Human Rights website at :

- The European Convention on Human Rights
- The United Nations (UN) Convention on the Right’s of the Child
- The United Nations (UN) Convention on the Right’s of persons with Disability

- Data Protection Act 2018 / GDPR

Visit this link to look up the Rights you have about your Data :

3. The Next Letter to write, is a Pre-Action letter

A Pre-Action Letter is the letter “before” you make a complaint to a court. This letter helps to encourage the parties (you and council for example) to settle disputes, through the use of ADR (alternative dispute Resolution) before taking any court action.

This letter uses the Pre-Action Protocol and is part of UK legislation, so all business and LA’s have to follow the directions in it. This letter can also be used in evidence if court action is taken.
And with this “claim”, you can also ask for money too, a compensation from the council / LA.

So how do you write it ? Well there are templates to help. Such as :

As this is a template letter, please amend it to fit around what your needs are, don’t use the word “demands” as this can come across angry, use the word “needs” instead, and also write down what needs to change to put things right. Also state the legislations which you think were breached.

For more info visit the Ministry of Justice website :

Hope this advice helps ?

Finally, if you need help, contact Watkins Solicitors in Bristol :

Recently they did a free day on SEND, you can view the live video from the event on their facebook page here :

Want to know more about me and what campaigns that I do as an Adult with Autism ?

Please visit my website at :
Follow me on Twitter, I am @samdownie /

Keep on fighting !



Sam Downie

Written by

Nurodiverse Actually Autistic Actor, Voiceover, Host, Presenter, Filmmaker, Podcaster, Reporter. All views mine. Visit :

Welcome to a place where words matter. On Medium, smart voices and original ideas take center stage - with no ads in sight. Watch
Follow all the topics you care about, and we’ll deliver the best stories for you to your homepage and inbox. Explore
Get unlimited access to the best stories on Medium — and support writers while you’re at it. Just $5/month. Upgrade