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Defining moments

The Changing Scenes project in Oxfordshire (funded by Comic Relief)

A man raking up leaves in a park settingAn image of a day centre

It tells the life stories of three families from the point of view of family carers.

Monica (aged 62) and her son Mark (aged 44). Monica tells the story about his life and how things have changed for them as a family from when Mark was born. She talks about how people think differently about learning disability now. Monica talks about the big change in Mark's life and her life when he moved into his own home.

Ann Prior, who is 83, talks about her experiences of life with her son Dick, aged 50. Dick was damaged by a vaccination Ann had when pregnant. Ann moved around a lot as her husband was in the RAF and flew planes. Ann tells about how she fought to get a day centre for Dick and for his friends. Ann explains how important it has been to their life as a family to have the day Centre. Ann is sad about how the centre has changed and about its future.

Helena and Caterina share their story of caring over three generations in a Greek family. Caterina is the sister of Peter, who is 52 and has learning disabilities. She has always cared for her brother. As a family, father, sister and niece lived with Peter. Caterina and Helena support Peter on their own now as Peter's father has died recently. Helena and Caterina describe what it has been like to have lived and grown up with Peter. They have gone through big life changes in their family together.

View Ann's PowerPoint presentation

View Caterina and Helena's PowerPoint presentation


Helena - I am 32 years old and from Oxford. I live with my mum and uncle, who has Down's syndrome. I am a graduate in sociology and anthropology. I volunteer for a local community newspaper writing about the interesting things going on in our part of Oxford. I'm particularly interested in the work of charities and community groups. In my spare time I enjoy cooking, reading, and spending time with our cat.

Caterina - I'm in my 60s and from Oxford. I live with my brother and daughter. I'm retired and have been a carer for over 25 years. I enjoy going for walks, reading, watching TV and (if I get the chance) going to the theatre and cinema and to museums. I enjoy art and have done ceramics and I like drawing.

Jan Sunman - Jan is 61-years old and lives in Oxfordshire. She had three children, of whom two survive. Her eldest daughter had severe physical disabilities, learning disabilities and complex health needs and died at the age of 25. Her son Matthew, aged 24, has severe learning disabilities, epilepsy and autism and lives in Derbyshire. Her other daughter, Laura is a mature student, training to be a children's nurse. Jan has campaigned for many years on issues relating to disabled children and their families. a project worker for a family carer-led charity, Oxfordshire Family Support Network. The Network supports families who have relatives with learning disabilities of all ages. The three year Changing Scenes project for older family carers was funded through Comic Relief. In her spare time, Jan and her family enjoy camping in an ancient Hymer van. Jan is an avid reader and also loves cross stitching and walking in the countryside.

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

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