Some more research musing from Canal Towers, which I hope you might find interesting …
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:
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.
Keep safe everyone, we’ll be back in that café soon enough.