Research Bulletin, May 2020

Hello and welcome to this monthly summary of research.

1. Independent Living and Covid-19

With deaths from the covid-19 pandemic raging through care homes in the UK currently, the focus of this bulletin is on research and history building on Independent Living (IL) and on radical Centres for Independent Living (CILs).

I believe the inevitable public inquiry will starkly show that many disabled people living independently in the community survived while their disabled comrades in care homes died.

Many people have emphasised how disabled people are being ‘othered’ in media and government messages once more as vulnerable people. But the lethal contrast between living independently and being an inmate in a care home shows how that deadly vulnerability comes from society, not from the person.

2. 1970 – Alf Morris anniversary

The current plans for celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Chronically Sick and Disabled Persons Act 1970 are some online events in September. Campaigns by disabled people in the 1960s have been outlined in recent bulletins.

A contemporary Labour Party MP of Alf Morris was David Owen. They both went to the House of Lords after being MPs. A recent email from Lord Owen has added the following context to the campaigns by disabled people at the time:

“… commenting on your paper and the National Campaign for the Young Chronic Sick. I knew its chairman, Marsh Dixon, because if my memory serves me right we were both members of the Chelsea Labour Party when I lived on a houseboat off Cheyne Walk from 1960-64. He was the power behind the Campaign. I think it was a few years later that Alf took up the cause. Also Jack Ashley.

I was due to present a Private Members’ Bill to the House of Commons when I was appointed Minister for the Navy in July 1968 and I passed the Bill on to Jack Ashley to present in the Commons and it was his first speech after having [become profoundly] deaf due to a viral infection. I was there to listen to him and Alf almost lay on the bench in front of Jack putting his index finger and thumb up in the air moving apart to indicate to Jack whether to be louder or quieter. It was quite a performance from both of them.” Lord David Owen, email, 27 April 2020.

3. GMCDP Archive

Last month I started a list of the collections in the GMCDP Archive, and the list below starts to add some dates for what’s within these collections:

Colin Barnes 1980-2018
Philip Mason 1980-2018
Manchester Disabled Athletes 1969-2012
Ian Stanton 1984-1998
Manchester Mind 1970-1990
UPIAS (Union of the Physically Impaired Against Segregation) 1972-1990
Kevin Hyett 1970s-2004
John Evans 1981-2020
Jane Campbell 1980s-2019
Maggie Davis 1966-2019
Ken Lumb 1968-2008
GMCDP Archive Project Group 2003-2020

In April the Lorraine Gradwell collection started to be formally assembled and so far it consists of around 400 items in 14 storage boxes from being a teenager in 1971 onwards, and catalogued. There is more to be done yet, but the progress is encouraging.

In 1993 GMCDP produced a booklet on the NHS and Community Care Act 1990, calling for better implementation of community care and independent living, and providing advice on how to challenge poor practice by official bodies. I scanned a copy of this booklet and circulated it in social media, especially because of its relevance now with the so-called easements of the Care Act. Link here: (online friendly) (print friendly)

4. Another Book

One disabled person reading the April Bulletin got in touch to recommend a book they had read in their youth. ‘The Empty Hours’ radicalised their politics, they said, especially on avoiding going into an institution with every resistance they could muster.

The Empty Hours: the weekend life of handicapped children in institutions by Maureen Oswin (1971, Pelican books)

Keep well everyone

2020-05-25 Alf Morris MP and disabled people’s National Campaign for the Young Chronic Sick ISBN 9781913148119

1 thought on “Research Bulletin, May 2020

  1. Pingback: Research Bulletin, June 2020 | Tony Baldwinson

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