A gritty documentary that ‘exposes the holes’ in Oxfordshire’s social care will be screened in the city tonight.
66 Months Under the Radar follows nearly six years in the life of Nigel Fletcher – a man battling addiction, an abusive relationship and who the film makers claim is ‘under the radar’ of social services in the city.
The film makers have invited people from organisations responsible for his care at the time the film was made to the screening.
It tells the story of Mr Fletcher’s relationship with Robbie Burns and, through harrowing scenes of abuse, mental illness and alcoholism, shows an ultimately loving relationship between the pair.
It was filmed by East Oxford film maker Gordon Wilson who lived with Mr Fletcher in a halfway house in Iffley Road.
After meeting the 42-year-old he said he wanted to show that thousands of people were slipping through the net of social care provision.
Mr Wilson said: “Sixty-six months is the amount of time Nigel went under the radar without any help from authorities. He just slipped through the gaps.
“It happens everywhere and, with the cuts, we will be seeing more and more of this.”
Mr Burns died during filming, and Mr Fletcher still lives in Oxfordshire.
Mr Wilson said: “I don’t know whether any of the authorities will come. It is 50/50.
”I hope they do come and maybe their questions will be answered.
“Maybe they will realise we are not just making a crass TV programme.”
Oxfordshire County Council denies the pair were living under the radar of social services and said attempts had been made to help them.
Spokesman Martin Crabtree said: “It’s difficult supporting people with complex needs living in chaotic relationships and circumstances.
“Ultimately if they have the capacity to make their own decisions, as Robbie and Nigel clearly did, then the state does not have the right to force people to move out of a relationship or to force them to change their lifestyle.
“Unlike the film makers, we have limited opportunity to see how people are behaving to each other.
“For the record, the only time concerns were raised with us by the film makers was eight days before Robbie’s death. By this time we had been trying to work with Nigel for several months, although not always successfully due to his behaviour.”
The film has been screened around the country and the world.
A review by the British Association of Social Workers described it as the “most heartbreaking, lacerating and uncomfortable film ever”.
Mr Wilson said: “To us that review meant more than anything.
“Bringing this back to Oxford is a kind of ending for us in a sense.
“This is where it all happened.
“It is a poignant moment.”
The screening will be held at the Phoenix Picturehouse in Walton Street at 6.30pm. For more information about the film, visit 66months.com