Documentary film focuses on six years without care

Documentary film focuses on six years without care

Documentary film focuses on six years without care

Gordon Wilson

First published in News Banbury Cake: Photograph of the Author by

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.

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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

Comments (10)

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6:00pm Mon 17 Sep 12

Feelingsmatter says...

Uncomfortable is about right; uncomfortable at being allowed such an intimate view of the lives of two vulnerable people. As anyone working in any caring role will know, the Mental Capacity Act protects the rights of those we care for, allowing them to make decisions, even unwise ones, if they are deemed competent. The alternative would be imposing our values and limitations on people who do not fit into our idea of normality. Who are we to decide what normal is?

Without seeing the film it's hard to make any kind of an educated comment, but Nigel Fletcher looks kind of scary, and if he didn't want help I don't see how it could be given to him unless he was sectioned under the mental health act, and all that would achieve would be a hiatus in his chosen lifestyle.

There will always be people who fly their entire lives under the radar of officialdom, but we have to remember it is often their choice; we cannot help everyone.
Uncomfortable is about right; uncomfortable at being allowed such an intimate view of the lives of two vulnerable people. As anyone working in any caring role will know, the Mental Capacity Act protects the rights of those we care for, allowing them to make decisions, even unwise ones, if they are deemed competent. The alternative would be imposing our values and limitations on people who do not fit into our idea of normality. Who are we to decide what normal is? Without seeing the film it's hard to make any kind of an educated comment, but Nigel Fletcher looks kind of scary, and if he didn't want help I don't see how it could be given to him unless he was sectioned under the mental health act, and all that would achieve would be a hiatus in his chosen lifestyle. There will always be people who fly their entire lives under the radar of officialdom, but we have to remember it is often their choice; we cannot help everyone. Feelingsmatter
  • Score: 4

6:03pm Mon 17 Sep 12

ger elttil OX2 0EJ says...

Feelingsmatter wrote:
Uncomfortable is about right; uncomfortable at being allowed such an intimate view of the lives of two vulnerable people. As anyone working in any caring role will know, the Mental Capacity Act protects the rights of those we care for, allowing them to make decisions, even unwise ones, if they are deemed competent. The alternative would be imposing our values and limitations on people who do not fit into our idea of normality. Who are we to decide what normal is?

Without seeing the film it's hard to make any kind of an educated comment, but Nigel Fletcher looks kind of scary, and if he didn't want help I don't see how it could be given to him unless he was sectioned under the mental health act, and all that would achieve would be a hiatus in his chosen lifestyle.

There will always be people who fly their entire lives under the radar of officialdom, but we have to remember it is often their choice; we cannot help everyone.
It will be interesting to see how somebody who is "under the radar" was living in a COUNCIL run half way house.
[quote][p][bold]Feelingsmatter[/bold] wrote: Uncomfortable is about right; uncomfortable at being allowed such an intimate view of the lives of two vulnerable people. As anyone working in any caring role will know, the Mental Capacity Act protects the rights of those we care for, allowing them to make decisions, even unwise ones, if they are deemed competent. The alternative would be imposing our values and limitations on people who do not fit into our idea of normality. Who are we to decide what normal is? Without seeing the film it's hard to make any kind of an educated comment, but Nigel Fletcher looks kind of scary, and if he didn't want help I don't see how it could be given to him unless he was sectioned under the mental health act, and all that would achieve would be a hiatus in his chosen lifestyle. There will always be people who fly their entire lives under the radar of officialdom, but we have to remember it is often their choice; we cannot help everyone.[/p][/quote]It will be interesting to see how somebody who is "under the radar" was living in a COUNCIL run half way house. ger elttil OX2 0EJ
  • Score: -66

6:33pm Mon 17 Sep 12

Lord Palmerstone says...

Presumably these two gentlemen were always at the centre of the radar screen so far as their dads, mums, aunts ,uncles , brothers , sisters, cousins, were concerned, so it is hard to see that strangers, even taxpayer funded strangers, could do more
Presumably these two gentlemen were always at the centre of the radar screen so far as their dads, mums, aunts ,uncles , brothers , sisters, cousins, were concerned, so it is hard to see that strangers, even taxpayer funded strangers, could do more Lord Palmerstone
  • Score: 2

6:43pm Mon 17 Sep 12

sparky123456 says...

I know the property well. it's near my own home. all along Iffley Road extremely expensive, large former family homes have been turned in to halfway houses or bedsits, operated by private landlords and rented by Oxford city and county council to house mentally ill or vulnerable people.

The council are liars. They do not care and they do not get involved. Every day I see the same things, drug addicted, violent people, befriending the more vulnerable who get benefits so they can bully them for money or a place to stay or for somewhere to go and take drugs. the numbers grow until violence or extreme anti-social behaviour takes place.

the exact property where this was filmed had terrible issues with drugs misuse in the front garden only last summer. Despite complaints to the police and the council the only intervention was for the council to cut the trees down in front of the property to deter the users and dealers from using the area. All they've succeeded in doing is pushing the problem elsewhere.

I've complained numerous times to the police about noise and drugs use, only to be told they can't intervene because it's happening within a dwelling and the landlord must be informed. The council then don't do anything so the mental health division get involved and assign a case worker who comes a few times and says nothing. a few weeks of peace comes before the dust settles and it all kicks off again.

the council would rather sweep the problem under the carpet and the police don't want it on their crime stats. these people slip between the gaps and Oxford for a city of its size has far too many people who have fallen by the wayside in this manner.

I'd love to see this film as it's about time someone highlighted this part of society.
I know the property well. it's near my own home. all along Iffley Road extremely expensive, large former family homes have been turned in to halfway houses or bedsits, operated by private landlords and rented by Oxford city and county council to house mentally ill or vulnerable people. The council are liars. They do not care and they do not get involved. Every day I see the same things, drug addicted, violent people, befriending the more vulnerable who get benefits so they can bully them for money or a place to stay or for somewhere to go and take drugs. the numbers grow until violence or extreme anti-social behaviour takes place. the exact property where this was filmed had terrible issues with drugs misuse in the front garden only last summer. Despite complaints to the police and the council the only intervention was for the council to cut the trees down in front of the property to deter the users and dealers from using the area. All they've succeeded in doing is pushing the problem elsewhere. I've complained numerous times to the police about noise and drugs use, only to be told they can't intervene because it's happening within a dwelling and the landlord must be informed. The council then don't do anything so the mental health division get involved and assign a case worker who comes a few times and says nothing. a few weeks of peace comes before the dust settles and it all kicks off again. the council would rather sweep the problem under the carpet and the police don't want it on their crime stats. these people slip between the gaps and Oxford for a city of its size has far too many people who have fallen by the wayside in this manner. I'd love to see this film as it's about time someone highlighted this part of society. sparky123456
  • Score: 2

6:59pm Mon 17 Sep 12

Feelingsmatter says...

I understands you sparky, but isn't that another issue to an extent? We can't legislate against life-style unless you mean all the drug-users should be locked up. I am sincerely curious to hear what you would do.
I understands you sparky, but isn't that another issue to an extent? We can't legislate against life-style unless you mean all the drug-users should be locked up. I am sincerely curious to hear what you would do. Feelingsmatter
  • Score: 2

7:36am Tue 18 Sep 12

Lord Palmerstone says...

The answer, Matter, is that the State , in the form of the Council, should not create pools of dysfunctional people to annoy others. It is called a Public Nuisance and is a tort and an offence. Perhaps an injunction may be sought to stop the nuisance or the Attorney General invited to prosecute. In any event, the sooner the State backs off, out of families' private business, the better.
The answer, Matter, is that the State , in the form of the Council, should not create pools of dysfunctional people to annoy others. It is called a Public Nuisance and is a tort and an offence. Perhaps an injunction may be sought to stop the nuisance or the Attorney General invited to prosecute. In any event, the sooner the State backs off, out of families' private business, the better. Lord Palmerstone
  • Score: -1

7:58am Tue 18 Sep 12

Buffetcrasher says...

The problem with the state backing off is that the forgotten few will become even less visible. I agree with you regarding "ghettoes" of of any kind as they offer little hope for those who wish to move away from toxic influences. Applying existing laws to what is a social problem will never be successful, it just moves the problem on in my view.
The problem with the state backing off is that the forgotten few will become even less visible. I agree with you regarding "ghettoes" of of any kind as they offer little hope for those who wish to move away from toxic influences. Applying existing laws to what is a social problem will never be successful, it just moves the problem on in my view. Buffetcrasher
  • Score: 2

8:15pm Tue 18 Sep 12

father dowling says...

How fantastic to see Mr.Wilson has changed his ways and done something productive with his life. Well done you !
How fantastic to see Mr.Wilson has changed his ways and done something productive with his life. Well done you ! father dowling
  • Score: 0

8:15pm Tue 18 Sep 12

father dowling says...

How fantastic to see Mr.Wilson has changed his ways and done something productive with his life. Well done you !
How fantastic to see Mr.Wilson has changed his ways and done something productive with his life. Well done you ! father dowling
  • Score: 0

8:50am Wed 19 Sep 12

Sophia says...

We would be better society if people did not always assume that looking after vulnerable people is entirely the job of paid officials.
We would be better society if people did not always assume that looking after vulnerable people is entirely the job of paid officials. Sophia
  • Score: 1

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