'Extract from 'Hear our voices'' by art+power

First thing in the morning

Lots of people in the centre

Going through the door

What a day this is going to be

People shouting, people screaming

On a bad day

Go to my locker, put bags away, toilet.

Certain times people feel let down

Something doesn’t work in the relationship

But something happens to people in centres

There are rules

That stop you having a relationship

The rule puts a stop to sex

There are interruptions, no privacy

They say: do it at home

How can you do it there?

Your people don’t like it

Nowhere else to go

It’s because of learning difficulties

They treat you like a child

We are adults, human beings,

We have a right to our personal relationships

It is our business, no one should stop you

But they do.

The power is gone to do what you wish to do

But you still can love.

The only times we get together is lunch time,

Break times (but they’re too short)

I am worried that someone will come over to the Club

The manager and staff will come over

And ’phone my people

And say what they saw

I don’t want people to know

They’d only tell us off

It would mean trouble

"Oi, what do you think you’re doing"

Say the staff

They don’t let you have love.

There are rules

No privacy

We are adults

Human beings

We still can love

But they won’t let you.

They treat us like dirt

They don’t want you to have nothing

Because they think you are stupid

Like slugs

Get into that bed

Punching me

Because they keep me down

I can’t have my own way

I was kept down

Like low grades

Like a poor low grade.

Ones who have got no people

They’re down on you

The nurses shut you in under the stairs

Sit on you

Say ‘Calm down. Calm down.’

They don’t give you clothes

You wear ticking night gowns

You wait till very last for your dinner

They sit on your stomach

They throw water on you

Give you tablets

That make you go off your head.

They make you feel dozy

In hospitals

Makes you a misery.

They stand over you until you take your pills

You can’t do what you like

You’ve got to keep your mouth shut

If you open your mouth

They do it all the more

Sack ‘em.

Oh my God, the staff get on your nerves

They keep on and on and on and on

And on and on and on and on

They think they’re trying to help you

But you want to do what’s best for you

They think they know best

They’re dictating your thoughts

Nosing into your affairs.

In the past staff said

Your mother is better off dead

She did not want you anyway

I believed them, it made me feel bad.

They push it a bit

They pity me

They make me feel nervous

They make me feel sadder

I want to be left alone

I just want friends

Staff say:

You’ll get over it

Forget it

You shouldn’t dwell on it

Never mind

As time goes by it will get less

Don’t worry about it

But of course you do

Don’t cry

It worries the staff when you cry.

I sat at the back

The staff told me

I wanted to be at the front

To see more

I wanted to see the coffin

I wanted to be close

At our last goodbye

But I say nothing

I couldn’t get to her

It made me feel awful

They all got in the way.