On the anti-racist histories of the disabled people’s movement in Britain

There is a view that the disabled people’s movement (DPM) in Britain learnt much of its principles in the 1960s from the Black people’s civil rights movement in the USA. The difficulty we have is in finding any evidence to support this theory. To be fair, there is little surviving evidence of the DPM in the 1960s in the archives or in textbooks, so it might have been an influence.

But the evidence that does survive from the disabled people’s movement in the 1960s and 1970s does show direct links with and learning from the Anti-Apartheid Movement (AAM). The AAM was the name of a strong and progressive formal organisation of radical anti-racists, people of colour and allies, based in London.

An explanation of the focus in Britain on the AAM rather that the USA civil rights movement is perhaps best explained by the history of British colonialism, the British Empire.

Starting in the 1920s with Egypt and Guyana, by the 1950s the movements for national independence of colonised countries was unstoppable, characterised by the ‘winds of change’ speech. India and Pakistan had won their independence in the 1940s, and countries in East Africa were following – Kenya and Uganda for example – but Rhodesia and South Africa were examples of White minority rule holding out against democracy and Black majority rule. Rhodesia became Zimbabwe on liberation, but South Africa had left the British Empire following the earlier Anglo-Boer War (1899-1902) and the white minority held out the longest in resisting democracy, creating its racist Apartheid regime of oppression.

Looking at the materials that survive from the disabled people’s movement in the 1960s, we can consider the following:

1. In Paul Hunt’s journal from 1962 much of his interest is in the non-violent civil disobedience of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND). This is the era of the Cuban missiles crisis, of the Aldermaston marches and mass rallies and arrests in Trafalgar Square. His journal does not explicitly mention the Black people’s civil rights movement.

2. In the records from the 1960s of the National Campaign for the Young Chronic Sick (NCYCS) is Mike Gerrard, an activist on its executive committee and also active on the executive committee of the AAM. The AAM archive is at the Bodleian Library in Oxford (also online) which includes a transcribed interview where he also talks briefly about NCYCS.

3. In the 1970s one of the founders of UPIAS (Union of the Physically Impaired Against Segregation) was Vic Finkelstein, a disabled man who was a political refugee from South Africa, where he had been imprisoned in the 1960s for helping Black people resist the apartheid regime. When he fled to London he was involved in the AAM first and said it was a few years later that he started to develop his political thinking around disability politics. He was at the centre of the early discussions that led to the social model of disability. He had previously been in Britain for a year in the 1960s, staying at Stoke Mandeville hospital for treatment for the first year after he broke his neck.

4. The AAM was particularly active in organising boycotts and disrupting South African sports teams that tried to play in Britain. This was mostly about rugby and cricket matches, but it also included disabled people’s sports. In particular was the demonstration by disabled people outside the Stoke Mandeville international games in 1983, and the high-profile boycott of the event by radical disabled athletes including Bernard Leach, a swimmer from the radical Manchester Disabled Athletes sports club, which made the national newspapers. The surviving documents of this event credit the work of the AAM Health Committee in helping organise and publicise the protests.

Thus, from a fragile base of evidence which needs to be further researched, the early findings show links between the disabled people’s movement and the Anti-Apartheid Movement’s struggle, as a stronger research narrative than links to the Black people’s civil rights movement in the USA.

Historical stories can be fragile. I suspect that if history had a smell, it would be popcorn. Much of our sense of our many pasts, our various heritages, and from these our shared stories of who we are, comes not from books but from Hollywood. And Hollywood narratives are not a good guide to the radical British histories.

Some further reading:




Research Bulletin – April 2022, plus two supplements on Ukraine

Two main topics for this month’s update:

A. Disabled people in Ukraine

B. An exhibition of the history of GAD in Greenwich, London

A. Ukraine and Disabled People

Currently the European Disability Forum (EDF) is convening an online meeting each Thursday to discuss what can be done to help disabled people in Ukraine. These meetings are open to any EDF member organisation or individual members, and where recently only one person present was from the UK.

EDF is not the only organisation to respond on this issue, but it does have useful connections and suggestions. Within the UK the main coordination is by DEC, the Disasters Emergency Committee.

Currently the best information on the context is:

1. There are *at least* 40,000 disabled people in Ukraine living in institutions, some people feel the number will turn out to be "much higher".

2. There are many children in Ukraine living in orphanages, and many are expected to be disabled children.

3. Medical supplies and medical volunteers are in short supply, being sent forward from institutions to the combat areas for casualties, plus shortages with general medical supplies and difficulties getting them into the country at all.

4. Hungary has sent in some accessible mini-coaches, each one for around 8 disabled passengers, to help with ferrying evacuations.

5. Sending money remains a general priority.

6. No information yet on disability organisations in Poland and the strains on them receiving displaced disabled people from Ukraine.

NEXT MEETING: Ukraine War and Work of the UN agencies

EDF 28 April, 12 – 1:30 CET (11am – 12.30pm UK time)

"Following the outbreak of the war in Ukraine, the European Disability Forum (EDF) is hosting a sequence of short webinars about specific topics relevant to the war and their impact on persons with disabilities. These meetings are for EDF members. The fourth meeting will focus on “the work of the UN agencies”.

Speakers from various agencies (OHCHR, UNICEF, PRPD and IOM) will present their work in Ukraine. It will be an opportunity to ask questions, learn more about their coordination mechanisms and exchange contact information."

B. Greenwich Association of Disabled People – GAD, and its sister org Metro.

I was honoured to be invited to the recent launch of a Metro-GAD exhibition on the history of GAD, and the a PDF file is available with a series of rough photographs of the exhibit panels, photos, t-shirts and objects on display.

It is a modest exhibition, being in the corridor of their offices, with photos, panels, t-shirts etc hung on the wall plus a few objects on display. Some people will recognise the photo of Brenda Hilditch, and the work of Alison Blake, both of this parish.

Three posters were of particular interest – these posters are from a project Sue Elsegood, Steve Gray and April Bird were involved in 1998 – 2001. There is also a fourth poster but there wasn’t room to include it. The project was with the Brook Advisory organisation, specific to London, though for example the mum and daughter who agreed to be photographed were living in Wales at the time.

The building is opposite the Woolwich Arsenal bus and train station in south London, but as a working office with security doors people are asked to contact beforehand if planning to visit the exhibition.

Cheers all




Dear all,

Headline is: an estimated 100,000 disabled children living in institutions in Ukraine; plus an unknown number of disabled adults.

Details: this is an update on the Research Bulletin two days ago, based on messages received since then, with thanks:

1. An additional meeting on Disabled Children in Ukraine, Thurs 5 May (details below). “It is rather astonishing that there are supposed to be 100,000 disabled children [living] in institutions in the Ukraine before the war! Goodness knows where they are now and what shape they are in?”

2. “The organisation from Hungary is saying they transport people in their accessible vans, and then take them to institutions in Hungary and also neighbouring countries. This is at the instruction of the Government. [We asked if] there’s any way people could be taken to Scandinavia. But [name] just wrote that people are [being] placed in nursing homes even in Sweden!”

3. “On the number of people in institutions, there is … no [exact] number for adults, but there are many, many institutions [in Ukraine]. Also, children graduate from children’s institutions into adult ones. … most [disability] organisations are parent [-led] ones and [not DPOs].



Some further information on disabled children and adults in and leaving Ukraine:

Bear in mind this is second-hand reporting, and thanks to my contacts.

The main focus for international agencies is on unaccompanied children, including unaccompanied disabled children.

From reports in Poland, around 1 in 8 displaced persons are disabled people (all ages). This very probably includes frail elderly people.

The effort is on trying to build international standards, so there can be consistency and portability for displaced disabled people (ie adults and children) as they move between countries.

Slovakia has a good system for their child protection services knowing children’s needs, and this may be replicated in nearby countries. By contrast, in Ukraine reportedly only 1% of disabled children were registered with the authorities.

Many of the displaced disabled people (all ages) are moving currently into Germany and Poland.

As the war started, a Refugee Response Plan was developed in March 2022 by various international agencies, with a "small chapter" on disabled refugees.


There are (it seems from reports) 19 BLUE DOT or hub locations currently, and a total of 31 is planned for, where displaced people can get information, support and services. These include assessment and referral, mental health support, legal aid, counselling, restoring family links, child and family-friendly spaces.

There are also some LIGHT BLUE DOT hubs planned which will have a smaller number of services, and work is underway to develop a DIGITAL BLUE DOT version.

From experience so far in Poland, about 1 in 8 of the displaced people passing through and registering with their Blue Dots hubs are disabled people (all ages).

Disabled people are being prioritised for air transport evacuation from Moldova to other EU countries, so far about 1,000 disabled people.

In terms of disabled people’s needs and common standards, the Blue Dot hubs are using the "Washington Group Questions" as their common system to describe the needs of disabled people, on the basis that every country can make use this, avoiding the use of conflicting local schemes as disabled people move between countries.

The focus of some of the UN agencies is try to sustain the support services in-country within Ukraine for the disabled people who still live there, and for those who plan to return. This is starting with the priority on the basic needs of people in institutions. "Emergency clusters" are also planned, details are not known.

Neighbouring countries are also supporting additional services to document violations, including GBV (gender-based violence), counter-trafficking and child protection.


Also a frank note from me based on some emails seen between officials – it seems the international agencies are not expected much practical help from the UK agencies, but in return the UK government is being fully expected to pay significant funds in aid to international agencies to provide this support.


On Disruption

I imagine that if the covid virus was a character in a film it would be played by Robert De Niro in some variant of Taxi Driver:

You want disruption?!
I’ll give you disruption!!”

Back in the old days – 2019 say – disruption was a business goal, a sure-fire way to make more money.

Look at how Google had disrupted all the advertising money that used to go to newspapers. Look at how Amazon had disrupted the sales money that used to go to shops. Look at how Uber had disrupted local minicab companies. Everyone in business was looking to be the next platform, the next innovator, the next disrupter, the next stock market sensation.

Politically in the UK we could also see Brexit as the disrupter of party politics – lifelong Labour voters going Conservative; lifelong Conservative going Liberal Democrats; its waves still overturning election boats five years on.

Maybe for some people the pandemic has made them start to feel there are limits to how much disruption we can take at one time.

But maybe for some other people the pandemic has been the proverbial wake-up call, where they see major changes are urgently needed – climate emergency, biodiversity collapse, hunger, poverty – and decide that another type of disruption, or revolution if you prefer the older phrase, is now needed.

And maybe the interesting policy area is if these two groups of people could be substantially the same.

They might have had enough of the ‘old disruption’ such as declining High Streets and being unable to buy a cup of coffee without using a phone app and a credit card. And they might be eager for some ‘new disruption’ such as turning half a car park into a cycle park, or voting for ten thousand new electric buses.

What happens to groups and societies when a lack of empathy is amplified – some thoughts

We all like a good bit of drama, to have a story told well. It draws everyone in. It’s fascinating for us all to watch. Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre had its cheap standing area as well as the balconies for the richer folk. But the drama was staged – the actors use conflict to drive the story forward.

And crucially, when we leave the theatre we don’t copy the script, obviously by not killing and maiming people on our way home, but subtly by using our empathy for others in our social skills.

But today our in-built fascination with conflict and drama has been automated and monetised. Social and media companies and television production companies have employed psychologists to ‘improve’ their audience share by looking for low-cost ways to amplify conflict. By “social and media companies” I mean here those companies who cultivate very large audiences in order to sell their attention to advertisers, whether its Facebook, broadcast TV, online TV, Twitter or others with the same business model.

It’s important to say that this is not all media companies – I’d say that many companies producing video games have shown a great responsibility and service in creating safe spaces for people to explore and experience drama, minority communities and personal development. This often happens during play that is online in social groups with staffed moderation and curation of gaming communities.

But some social and media companies have deliberately used their algorithms and storylines to amplify conflict. For example, we saw in Channel Four’s programme Big Brother, when the initial high audience figures started to fall away, how the practice of “conflict casting” was used to select participants who were more likely to be antagonistic to each other. These days it is called “noisy TV” in the trade, which is meant to catch more people’s attention. Psychologists looked in particular for people who, for whatever reason, had less empathy than others. The Jeremy Kyle show also springs to mind. But so do the many ‘reality’ TV programmes with a divisive narrative, often against poorer people living on benefits.

We see the same dynamic in politics – Donald Trump shows less empathy than, for example, Michelle Obama. Boris Johnson with less empathy than, say, Ed Miliband.

But what might make great TV, might make memorable politics, might make compulsive posting online, is corrosive for society as a whole and for social groups.

Social groups are areas wider than our immediate friends and family where we learn and practice our social skills, including our empathy for people we might not fully agree with, or even strongly disagree with.

However, I wonder if the increasing pervasiveness and amplification of conflict with and indifference to the feelings of the other person, monetised by the larger social and media companies, is causing social harms at the micro level as well as at the macro level. This micro level includes most community, neighbourhood and voluntary groups, societies and associations.

Any one group can only cope with a certain amount of a lack of empathy within it before it must disintegrate and collapse as a social group. Good community development skills can mitigate this to an extent, but everything has its limits.

“We have more in common than divides us” is not just a morally good statement, it is an instruction, a commandment, we give to ourselves to protect our empathy skills against the structures that seek to undermine them for their own gain, both political and commercial.

I feel that the textbook of skills for community development needs a new chapter for the 21st century – something like – Rebuilding Empathy in Communities in the face of Social and Media Amplifications of Conflict.


Research Notes, June 2021

Somewhat Lame

I was recently encouraged to look at a computer app, Grammarly, which is popular with students looking to improve their writing skills. So, ever curious, I gave it some of my notes of a meeting to see what it might say about my style. It came back with four errors, three of which were style choices (and it was clearly wrong!) and, fair enough, one was an improvement. The software also gives the writing some overall scores, and I was given a good for style and clarity (of course!).

But the kicker was the overall judgement that my writing was “somewhat lame”. Hold my coat, we’re taking this outside chum!

I could bleat on about how committee minutes are maybe not the same as a paperback thriller story. But no, instead I’ve decided to try and up the tempo of my writing. Kerpow!

Ear to the Ground

I’m pleased to say that Anne Plumb’s book on the catalogue of her lifetime archive collection of the voices of mental health service users and survivors is working its way steadily through the drafting stage, aiming for publication in the late summer.

I continue to be struck by the humour of service users, survivors, and indeed inmates. One group of patients in a locked ward at a “special hospital” organised a sponsored bed-push as a fundraiser, and wonderfully called it, “The Great Escape”. Ker-boom!

Hulme Hippodrome

One of the nice features of being involved this year with the Save Hulme Hippodrome campaign is that there are so many very capable heritage and archive researchers already involved. And they are far better at this research lark than I am, so I’m learning lots from them. My role is more on the legal and property side, which makes a change. Splat!

Not Dead Yet UK

It seems that every five years or so some misguided politician, usually in the House of Lords, decides to take a punt and try to get Assisted Suicide (aka Assisted Dying) made legal in the UK. So, here we are again with a private members bill in the Lords doing just that. I’m doing some work in the background here. For all the campaign details please see the NDYUK website, and it’s all hands to the pumps. Wham!

What’s your app of choice?

Apparently once we reach 36 years of age we stop listening to new music. I wonder if there is something similar happening with tech. I come across younger people in various campaigns who these days use apps like Trello to help them in project management. Maybe when they too reach 36 years old they will stick with the same app they started out using? I have done so mostly, and apart from the occasional project spreadsheet I find my app of choice remains Filofax. Zap!

Keep safe, and keep campaigning,


Research Bulletin – April / May 2021

Hello again all,

Sorry for the delay in this research update from Canal-side Towers, there have been a few busy projects requiring my attention. Sometimes you can only do so much, and these definitely are such times.

The Disabled People’s Archive

One of the recent additions has been the Judy and Paul Hunt Collection. While the pandemic closures have led to a backlog of boxes here in the Towers, the upsides are that there is less carpet to keep clean, and one gets more of a preview than usual. It’s a modest but powerful collection of family papers in five boxes – and such treasures! Then I noticed that Paul Hunt (1937-1979) didn’t yet have a Wikipedia page which I felt was quite wrong, so recently I’ve made a start, based on some of these papers. Please feel free to add and correct it – anyone can, it is open source and a community creation. And many thanks to Judy Hunt for creating this new Collection.


Access for all, and hybrid files

This one is a bit more tech-y.

One of my recent interests has been to try and find a single format for a digital file that can be used for sharing copies of archived born-analogue papers in fully accessible manner.

At the moment we often use multiple file formats for the same record to cover different access requirements (usually as PDF and as Word). This isn’t efficient and has the risk of the multiple files about one document becoming separated, compromising their accessibility.

Previously I’ve used OCR (optical character recognition) to try to improve the accessibility of PDF copies, but the accuracy is only around 80% and this isn’t good enough. In time the quality of OCR programs and apps may improve enough, but currently another method is still needed. Born-analogue documents with columns, text boxes and other complex layouts can confuse OCR programs – except some commercial ones (eg as used by Ancestry.com to scan in old copies of city directories while skipping headers, ads, side-bars, etc).

One approach I am testing is to append the PDF document to the Word document, and save the resulting file as one, larger PDF. The Word document is usually created by starting with an OCR version then manually correcting the errors by looking at the original item. This can be called a hybrid file format.

This method works in terms of it being a single file, and for visually impaired people the navigation seems to work best when the plain (from Word) text is at the start of the file, and the imaged pages of the original document follow afterwards.

Another approach to creating a single file is to use a photographic image of each sheet of the archived paper, along with an alt-text description, then adding the plain text (from Word) into this combined, larger PDF. Happily the PDF format retains items such as alt-text descriptions of images. Whether this is an improvement on the first method currently remains to be seen.

Perhaps one of the long-term solutions will be made possible by the screen-reading programs such as JAWS that now sometimes include their own OCR function. However, having a good copy of the digital text already embedded within each file does also help with the search function used as a finding aid by archivists and researchers, and by search engines.

One current drawback with using PDFs for these hybrid files is that JAWS requires the reader to manually command a next-page at every step to read the full PDF, in comparison with Word where JAWS will ignore page breaks and read it out continuously (thanks Linda for pointing this out).

All comments and pointers gratefully received,

Keep staying safe,


PS – some people may find this of interest:

2020-08-01 CAT – Campaign for Accessible Transport – 1989 and 1990 (Draft v1)

Are we building new hospitals for the 2020s or the 1920s?

New Park House will be a new-build mental health hospital in north Manchester, opening in 2024 for 150 people. Every person will have a single room en-suite with a locking door, and there will be treatment areas for therapies such as ECT – high voltage electric shocks to the brain – which is outlawed in some countries such as Slovenia. As many mental health activists and campaigners have pointed out, building a new centralised mental health hospital flies in the face of all modern best practice in dispersed, community-based mental health services. The only aspect of this hospital design that is missing from the 1920s is a library room for books on eugenics. To be replaced with daytime TV screens dressed up as therapy.

New Park House (M25 3BL) gained planning permission in January 2021 and with £72m of government money from the national programme for election-promised new hospitals towards its £105m total cost, it is politically very likely to be built despite its antiquated nature in terms of international modern mental health practices.

So what happens next?

There are already talks of the new building being better suited for use as general medical wards, or maybe as routine surgical wards for elective items like hip replacements. More of these wards are desperately needed after the austerity reductions in the NHS in the 2010s.

But maybe the single room design could also be used to flex its future use into a regional biosafety hospital. Covid-19 has taught the UK what other countries with experience of SARS-1 already knew, that epidemics and pandemics are increasingly likely and need to be robustly prepared for.

Biosafety levels internationally, known as the Containment Level in the UK, have the following examples:
CL-2 – campylobacter, Dengue
CL-3 – rabies, bird flu
CL-4 – Ebola, Lassa.

So a regional hospital with biosafety or containment level 4 facilities would be a great regional asset in the early-days management of an outbreak of any novel unknown pathogen.

It would be perfectly possible today to “future proof” the construction design of New Park House, for example with including a ventilation system that is cellular and not mixed, with ducting for oxygen to each room, and with safe waste water treatment before its discharge into public sewers and waterways.

But, sadly, the silo thinking of being a Mental Health Trust Board will not allow even the thought of “future proofing” for a wider benefit – one NHS, one public health.

So we will probably have to pay another construction company more millions of pounds in a few years time to rip out much of the pipework that is only suited to a 1920s design to make the hospital fit for purpose for the world we live in today.

Research Bulletin, March 2021

Hello all,

Some more research musing from Canal Towers, which I hope you might find interesting …

1. Workload

You may know that awful moment when you realise you have made a massive, colossal mistake. A total howler. It happened to me this month.

I’m now involved in around seven different projects and campaigns – and then it dawned on me why that was. Recently I had described myself as "semi-retired" and as a result all kinds of work was finding its way to my door. It started to feel like, "sadly we’ve had to make four people redundant, but now there’s Tony …" (almost!)

I think before my big mistake I was quite well protected because, basically, no-one was really sure what I did in my paid work. Compliance manager, programme manager, resource procurement, and even project manager, they were all a mystery because the projects were things like supporting small enterprises making video games. It’s a family joke that I’m really a spy, made all the more fun in that my fervent denials just confirm the matter.

So, a lesson for any younger readers, don’t let on when you start to retire! Seriously, it’s under control now, but the surge in interest did take me a bit by surprise.

2. Another collection for the archive

It’s been a great privilege and pleasure this month to receive four large delivery boxes with 48kg of materials from Judy Hunt, being the Judy and Paul Hunt Collection, to be added to the Disabled People’s Archive overseen by GMCDP with the good people at Archives+ in the Central Library in Manchester. The extent (size) is two archive boxes (33 litre type) of books and five more archive boxes of papers. The papers are in 42 file wallets plus a lever arch file.

Some gems from this collection include a newsletter in the format of a folder leaflet, of the National Campaign for the Young Chronic Sick (NCYCS) from 1966 campaigning for independent living. The wording at the bottom of page one says, "We seek no charity, no special privileges. We seek social justice, equality of opportunity." Seeing the details of this newsletter explains more about the close links between NCYCS and the Chelsea Labour Party – essentially the constituency identified fully with the campaign, and were not just seeing it as an arm’s length operation.

Another gem is a letter from 1972 by Paul Hunt which was printed in a charity newsletter. This was probably circulated just weeks before his landmark letter in The Guardian which started UPIAS, the Union of the Physically Impaired Against Segregation. It’s interesting to see his ideas develop as we watch, the expression of disabled people as consumers coming soon afterwards. The UPIAS Collection is already in the Disabled People’s Archive, and this is the letter:


Dear Editor,

During 17 years of living in various institutions for the disabled, and in the 2 years since I left, certain questions have nagged insistently at me. What can be done to improve residential centres, homes and hospital units for the physically handicapped? What alternative forms of care might be devised which would prove more satisfactory? What changes in society are required if severe disability is either to be eradicated or to become no bar to full social participation?

In discussion recently a friend suggested that what was needed was to have the views of people who are themselves actual or potential recipients of institutional care. Their ideas on the situation are more important than anyone else’s, but are often least taken account of by administrators, planners and politicians. If severely handicapped people were able to get together to work out proposals for change, they would obtain national publicity and a say whenever their future was being discussed.

I should be very glad to hear from people who are interested in this proposal. The intention is to form a group, made up of past, present and possible future disabled residents, together with their friends and eventually to hold a national conference to decide on policies, priorities and methods of achieving change.

Yours sincerely,

Paul Hunt.


Keep safe everyone, we’ll be back in that café soon enough.

Research Bulletin, February 2021

Hello again,

Well now, it is a year since I started these monthly updates on research interests, a month before the pandemic was first responded to in the UK. And here we are in Lockdown 3 and it’s no secret that living alone has had me climbing the walls at times. Not least in the urban north of England where hospitality closed last summer. And being in a modern flat where the ceilings are not that high, that pastime soon loses its appeal. The local Italian restaurant is doing take-aways at weekends with a sign, "44 days to go". I hope so.

But February is nearly over, spring is coming, the crocuses and daffodils on my walks are joining the snowdrops – and in keeping with the season I’ve had a couple of new projects breaking ground…

The first project, new to me if actually 120 years old itself, is Hulme Hippodrome. The call came from friends to get involved in a great campaign to save the listed heritage building, so I’m in. There are heritage researchers and scholars in the group from the nearby universities, so I’m learning a lot from them as well as helping with the typing! Actually, it has been the legal aspects of the building in recent months that have been intense – more details if you’ve the time for them at – www.hulmehippodrome.org including weekly updates at the moment.

The second new project is CHARM which is a campaign for better mental health policies, services, and institutional behaviours in Greater Manchester. CHARM stands for Communities for Holistic, Accessible, Rights Based Mental Health. The trigger for this campaign is the proposal to spend millions of pounds building a shiny new ‘hospital’ with about 140 locked rooms and a nurses station. The official blurb calls them secure single rooms with ensuite facilities. You might know them better as prison cells. All this at a time when the current mental health services are collapsing under strain, so we are making plans with the trade unions on a united approach for change – health workers, service users, families, carers and other activist allies. The historic research on Radical Mental Health Projects from 1960s, which I helped a different group of us to write up over a year ago, has proved very useful now for the CHARM campaign to show that we are not asking for the impossible – it has already existed in small and fragile ways, but these ground-breaking mental health projects were consistently ignored by senior health managers instead of being mainstreamed. Our research has protected the lessons from these projects, at least in part.

In terms of the Disabled People’s Archive, expect some exciting news in March. My lips are sealed!

For International Women’s Day on Monday 8 March, the good people at Manchester’s Central Library have said they wish to include details of Lorraine (Gradwell) as a notable local person in their Memory Box – which is lovely.

For the Not Dead Yet campaign against assisted suicide possibly being made lawful soon (like Canada, Netherlands, etc), it looks like it’s going to be a bumpy year, and we are tightening our seat-belts in preparation.

After a long lull from Manchester city council, there is some short-notice re-engagement with the Peterloo Memorial Access Campaign – but it looks pretty grim at the time of writing – the proposal is for temporary access for disabled people once a year. For updates please see this public group page: www.facebook.com/groups/382131302394700

So, various campaigns are hotting up.

And finally, one reason I’ll be glad when lockdown ends is that I have over 120 archive boxes waiting to leave the flat. Still, if I arrange them carefully there’s a pop-up climbing wall.

Stay safe, things can only get better (!),


For earlier editions of this bulletin please see – www.tonybaldwinson.com/research-bulletins/