Disability history to be captured through new Heritage Lottery Grant
12 October 2015
by Stephanie Nield
We're delighted to have been awarded a Heritage Lottery Fund grant of £242,250 to use our archives to raise awareness about the history of disabled people.
The grant will be used to fund ‘Rewind — seven decades of stories from Leonard Cheshire Disability’, a project which will demonstrate how disabled people lived their lives over the past 70 years.
It will support vital conservation work, digitise archive material and record new oral history interviews with disabled people. The project will create an accessible website and allow online public access to the collections for the first time.
The grant comes alongside contributions to the project from the Sobell Foundation and the Brighton and Worthing Charitable Trust, bringing the total raised for the project to £305,500.
Le Court, where it all began
We'll use archive material from Le Court — the home of our founder, Leonard Cheshire, which was adapted for its disabled residents. Le Court had a film unit, radio station, publishers, archive and artists group run by disabled people, and played a significant role in the beginnings of the disability rights movement.
This example from the film unit shows some of the ingenious gadgets that the residents and volunteers at Le Court came up with to assist them with out day to day activities.
We have such a rich and diverse archive and as a result, the heritage we hold from Le Court forms a unique part of a rarely documented social and disability history.
Our founder started our charity in 1948 with a single act of kindness when he took disabled veteran Arthur Dykes into his own home to care for him. This is an important step in helping us shape our history to share this dynamic story with the world.
A community engagement programme is also planned and will run in six locations in Surrey, West Sussex, Essex and Kent, with trained volunteers assisting community groups to share memories and experiences.
Volunteers will also record the oral histories of people who had contact with and experience of Leonard Cheshire Disability, as well as capturing the experience of disabled people over 70 years.
The project will increase the confidence of disabled people to talk about their experiences of care and capture a unique part of UK social history.
Stephanie Nield is the archivist at Leonard Cheshire Disability.