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A Tortoise File

A death at Lancaster Lodge

Sophie Bennett took her own life in a care facility that was crumbling around her. Paul Caruana Galizia and Chris Cook investigate what went wrong at a charity led by a famous mental health pioneer.

First published
Monday 7 June 2021

Last updated
Monday 7 June 2021

Why this story?

This story discusses suicide and self-harm. If you need support, you can call the Samaritans for free on 116 123, email them at jo@samaritans.org, or visit www.samaritans.org to find your nearest branch. Resources outside the UK are available here.

This is a story about Lancaster Lodge – and how a home looking after a small group of young women with serious mental illnesses turned from being a safe haven into a disaster. The decline in care and safety at the charity-run home caused the death of Sophie Bennett, a 19 year-old. But the story matters even beyond the immediate tragedy of her death. The institutions that were supposed to keep her safe failed – and there are 1,800 residential homes in England offering care to working age people with serious mental health conditions. Chris Cook, Editor

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