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Jimmy - an Eastender's story

Michael Shamash

My name is Michael Shamash and I am a freelance researcher with ties to Middlesex University and the University of Bedfordshire. In this paper I aim to recount and explore the life of Jimmy, a 61-year old man with Downs Syndrome. He lives with his father on a housing estate near Canning Town in the East End of London. He has always been a well-loved member of the local community and has a very supportive close knit family.

I first got to know Jimmy when I worked at a user-led day centre in nearby Mile End. Jimmy's mother, who died seven years ago, was very proud of him and kept a fascinating archive of his life. I would like to examine the history of learning disability and community in the East End through the eyes of Jimmy and I would like the work to be a complete collaboration between Jimmy and myself, true co-production.

As London undergoes massive social change and services are cut, I feel that this would be a very opportune moment to see how one person's life reflects these processes.


Michael Shamash - I am based in North London. I have written widely on a range of disability related themes. I have written a report on hate crime against disabled people. A major area of interest of mine is fashion and design and how it affects the lives of disabled people. I have worked in Disabled People's Organisations. I have given talks about social participation to people with learning disabilities. I am currently the chairperson of the service users and carers group at Middlesex University's social work course and I do similar work with social work students at UEL and the University of Bedfordshire trying to ensure that service users are involved at every stage.  I believe firmly that disabled people's voices must be heard across all parts of society.

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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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