Free Our People Now

We advocate for urgent change for Autistic people and people with learning difficulties

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About ‘Free Our People Now’ (PDF document)
About ‘Free Our People Now’ (Word document)
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About this project

The Free Our People Now project aims to help autistic people and people with learning difficulties, with lived experience of the psychiatric system, to have a voice and advocate for urgent change so Autistic people and people with learning difficulties can live in their own homes rather than in hospitals.

We do this work by supporting Disabled people’s organisations (DPOs) and speaking up and campaign groups, run by Disabled people, to support disabled inpatients to leave hospital and get the right support in the community.

The project offers training, information and support so we have more Disabled people helping other Disabled people to leave hospital.

We also work with groups and organisations run by Disabled people who are interested in getting laws, policies and rules changed so that everyone has the right to live in their own homes with good support.


Why is the project needed?


For many Autistic people and people with learning difficulties their human rights to be in this world and live freely have for too long been violated by the state.  Indefinite hospital detentions blight the lives of Autistic people and people with people with learning difficulties. National and local government policies continue to have little impact on ending the detention of so many Autistic people and people with learning difficulties or creating the community and housing support needed.

Whilst there has been a very slow reduction in the numbers of adults detained in hospital, the number of autistic children and children with learning difficulties detained under the Mental Health Act has doubled since 2020.  If this trend continues we will be seeing history repeating itself where disabled children will be condemned to life-long institutionalisation.

For too long, Autistic people and people with learning difficulties with lived experience of psychiatric hospital detentions, have had no voice and power to make change happen for themselves and their peers.  Now is the time for change.

 “It is no longer acceptable for Disabled people to be detained by the State on the grounds of disability and risk to oneself and others.   The Mental Health Bill proposals must focus on investing and promoting Disabled people’s emotional wellbeing rather than waiting until there is education, health, social care and housing system failure that leads to life-long hospitalization.”
Simone Aspis (Project Manager)


If you are Disabled person or are involved in a Disabled people’s group (including speaking up groups) and are interested in the project, please feel to contact me on:



Videos from our volunteers

This video is a chat between our volunteer Lucy, project manager Simone and communications officer Rensa. The chat is about what it was like for Lucy to live in an institution, and why things need to change.

To see the video with subtitles, you can click play and then click the “CC button”.

Or you can read the video transcript by viewing the video on YouTube, looking for the “…” button underneath the video, and clicking “Show transcript”.



Blog posts

Lucy and Sanneke are volunteers with Free Our People Now. They tell other people what it is like to live in an institution.

Disabled people calling for an end to secure hospitals

Lucy’s story

Sanneke’s story


“Lives Are Being Stolen By An Outdated Mental Health Act – I Would Know.” – by a supporter of Free Our People Now

Our work on the Mental Health Bill


A man holding an Easy Read document

What Inclusion London has to say about the Draft Mental Health Bill

Our ideas for making the Mental Health Bill better



About 20 people are sat around a table in parliament. Simone speaks via video call. A screenshot from the recording of the Draft Mental Health Bill evidence session.





We gave oral (spoken) evidence to the Joint Committee on the Draft Mental Health Bill.

Watch the video recording here. We start introducing our project at 15:38:51. Or you can read the transcript of the oral evidence (PDF).


We also submitted written evidence.


The committee wrote a report, after the evidence was given. Read the Report of Session 2022–23 in Large Print (PDF).


For more resources and information, please follow the links below:

News from Free Our People Now