Research Bulletin, September 2020

Hi all,

Well, it’s a strange world for us all at the moment. Here’s my monthly update in case there’s anything new here that might help or be of interest to you.

1. Becky Fields’ autobiography

Becky Fields is a pen-name for legal reasons of a disabled woman who was systematically abused for years as a child and young adult by her mother. Before she died she wrote her story of that abuse and how she managed to escape it to live independently, and despite many safeguarding errors including by social services staff. Becky’s manuscript found its way to me and now it is published.

– SILENT NO LONGER, Becky Fields, 2020. ( ISBN 978 1913 1481 02 ) Free online and £4.99 as a paperback.

“I cannot say that I have felt much like a warrior whilst writing this book. I have shed many tears and had to set the book aside for weeks on end to give my heart a break from reliving the awfulness that was part of my early life. Yet, like a true warrior, I did see my task through to the end. I cannot say what will become of my efforts. But if this book helps anyone or even make one person think a little about what we, as a society, must do to put an end to this terrible crime, then it will have been worthwhile.”

2. Television

BBC Two have commissioned two TV production companies to make programmes on the history of disabled people’s campaigning. Both stop in 1995 with the (flawed) Disability Discrimination Act; I guess because the BBC want to avoid anything in the last 25 years that might be politically controversial, which is a shame and gap that others need to fill.

The first programme will be a drama-documentary based on the Disabled People’s Direct Action Network (DAN) in the early 1990s. And the second programme will take a wider look at campaigning, starting around 1900. I’ve been sending the researchers at both companies various summaries and publications in case they help with accuracy.

3. Campaign interviews

There is a very interesting new kid on the research block, an organisation that is planning to safely interview disabled campaigners. I can’t say more at this stage, but hopefully there will be a public launch soon.

4. Plans

Manchester is a vibrant hub for anyone interested in the political histories of disabled people. Three examples:

– a – Plans are underway for an exciting range of online contributions on the International Day of Disabled People, 3 December, focussed on the Central Library with support from Manchester City Council.

– b – The People’s History Museum in Manchester is making plans for a substantial exhibition with disabled people under the banner, “Nothing About Us Without Us”.

– c – The DigiFest organised by Manchester Histories to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Alf Morris MP’s landmark law – the Chronically Sick and Disabled Persons Act 1970 – drew a lot of interest and comment, mostly positive.

5. Park House

Within the NHS there is an archaic proposal for a new large locked mental health hospital to be built in north Manchester to serve a massive area. Unfortunately it has some political support at the moment because it is one of the government’s promised “new 40 hospitals” and few politicians want to criticise that openly at the moment, unfortunately.

So, a campaign is underway led by the Hearing Voices Network based in Hulme at the Niamos Radical Arts Centre ( M15 5EU ) to get the planned locked mega-hospital abandoned and instead to use the money to build up genuine community-based mental health services across the city and beyond, which I support.

Some of the Archives+ materials from the Manchester Mind Collection from 1970 to 1990 have proved useful in showing how community-based mental health services are the only effective way forward, something we have known for some time now. Much better than people in distress being taken miles to be locked up, away from families, friends and communities, and only to be discharged later with a bus ticket, a box of tablets and precious little community-based support.

Stay safe,


Research Bulletins back copies:

PS – if you’re interested in climate change and transport, there are details of some ideas for new electric battery trains instead of diesel on my website.

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