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Discovering our heritage and making friends

Matt Purcell, Sarah Bentley and Ricki Nicholls
Changing Our Lives

Hidden History was a project led by young people with learning disabilities. We researched the history of people with learning disabilities dating back to early 1800s. We interviewed people who had lived in the long stay hospitals and staff who worked in these settings. We made a short film to show people this history and the processes we went through when researching.

During the project we developed both friendships with the young people in our research group and connections with some of the people who had lived in long stay institutions.

We have kept friends with the young people since the project has completed. We have all become young leaders in the Young Voices Network. Our friendship has enabled us to work together to get people to see beyond our disability – we have since led many campaigns and projects that have championed the rights of young people with learning disabilities. These have included a Young Women and Theatre project; Graffiti Art project, with young men with learning disabilities and Bridging the Gap project, with young people with profound and multiple learning disabilities.

We have also made friends with some of the older people we interviewed. We have kept links with these people through events and partnership working in our audits of local services.

At the annual conference we will show key chapters from our short film, and talk about how our friendships have formed. We will include time for questions and answers from the audience.

Contact us

About the Group

If you woud like to get in touch with the Social History of Learning Disability (SHLD) Research Group, please contact:

Liz Tilley 
Chair of the Social History of Learning Disability (SHLD) Research Group
School of Health, Wellbeing and Social Care
Faculty of Wellbeing, Education and Language Studies
The Open University
Walton Hall
Milton Keynes
MK7 6AA

About the website

If you have any feedback or would like to report a problem with the website, please contact WELS-Research-Admin@open.ac.uk.