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The Hidden Now Heard project

Paul Hunt, Sara Pickard and Laura Harris

Hidden Now Heard logo

The Hidden Now Heard project is collecting the oral histories of people with a learning disability and staff from six former long stay hospitals across Wales Since September, the team have been collecting stories from Hensol Castle and the project team would like to share their findings so far.

Hensol Castle Hospital

  1. How life for those patients is similar to people with a learning disability living in communities today.
  2. How life is quite different. Like how in institutions people felt a great sense of community and had more relationships, but had no choice about clothing or what they ate.
  3. The problems the team have encountered approaching former patients due to confusion around the Mental Capacity Act and staff being overly cautious about confidentiality.
  4. The effect of the interviewer having a learning disability has had on what people are happy to talk about.
  5. Attitudes of fomer staff to the project.
  6. To give a brief overview of our first exhibition at Swansea Museum, which ran from 19th January to the 2nd March.


Paul Hunt - After gaining an entirely irrelevant MA in Scriptwriting in 2007, Paul Hunt joined Mencap Cymru the following year as a Project Officer on the Partners in Politics project. Since then Paul has managed the Inspire Me project in Wales, which delivered life skills workshops and projects across Wales and supervised a KTP project in partnership with Bangor University looking at improving training for staff in challenging behavior services. He currently manages the Heritage Lottery Funded project Hidden Now Heard.

Sara Pickard - Councillor Sara Pickard was one of the first people with a learning disability to be elected as a community councilor in the UK back in 2007. She has worked for Mencap Cymru as a Project Officer on the Partners in Politics, Inspire Me and now the Hidden Now Heard project. Sara is also the UK representative on the Inclusion Europe advocacy board.

Laura Harris - Since joining Mencap Cymru in 2012, Laura has worked on a variety of projects including the Health Lottery funded gateway award and the Play Our Way project, both leisure projects aimed at increasing participation in mainstream leisure activities for people with a learning disability. In 2013 she became the external affairs officer, developing disability awareness training for use in hospitals to NHS staff in Wales following the untimely death of Paul Ridd, a patient with a learning disability. She is now putting to use her fine art background in helping to design the Hidden Now Heard exhibitions.

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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