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This week in Tortoise: A death at Lancaster Lodge

Monday 7 June 2021


This week’s Slow Newscast – A death at Lancaster Lodge – is about the suicide of a 19-year-old girl. It is a harrowing story for that reason, but also for another: it exposes the fragmented and overlooked world of mental health care homes that may be failing thousands more people.

When, in 2016, Sophie Bennett was found unconscious in a bathroom at Lancaster Lodge, a mental health treatment centre in Richmond, London, it came just days after staff had been advised to send her to a hospital – but they didn’t. It came just months after the Lodge had entirely changed its methods away from psychotherapy and towards pilates, sacking a respected therapist in the process. And it came years after the Charity Commission had reprimanded the controversial figure behind the centre, although she effectively remained in place.

Paul Caruana-Galizia is our reporter on this story, made possible because several worried and courageous people have chosen to tell it. Please do listen.

As for this week’s ThinkIns, we begin by demonstrating that slow news sometimes arrives right on time:

The G7 meet at the end of the week. Our latest Tortoise Take was a “Prick of conscience”, a call on the wealthiest nations to vaccinate the world. Yesterday, I got a better version of the same argument, this time put to music. Richard Curtis wrote to me: “If you take a look (it’s 2 minutes short) – you’ll see why I think it’s the most important thing in the world at the moment. With slightly cunning wordplay, it’s called #WhyNotShare?

And I know I mentioned the latest edition of the Tortoise Quarterly in last week’s letter, but we’ve since also published some of its articles on our website – as a kind of taster – including Anand Menon’s exceptional account of a year of grief. If you’d like a full print copy, it’s available in our online shop.

Allbest.

James Harding,
Editor & co-founder