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Research projects

Members of the Social History of Learning Disability (SHLD) Research Group have participated in a wide range of projects researching key aspects of the social history of learning disability. These research projects have often been run as collaborations with other organisations, drawing upon an array of funding sources.

No Going Back:  Prudhoe Hospital

Run by Skills for People, a Newcastle Upon Tyne self advocacy organisation, this Heritage Lottery Funded project recorded the oral histories of people who lived in Prudhoe Hospital, a former large long-stay institution.
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Twenty one years of working together:  a history of Central England People First

In 2010 Central England People First, with the guidance of the Research Group, was awarded a Heritage Lottery Fund grant of £48,000 to run an oral history project of its 21 year history.
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Working with Primary Schools

Covering the London boroughs of Southwark, Lewisham and Kent, this project involved Mabel Cooper, a woman with learning difficulties who was a prominent member of the Research Group.
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A Hidden Heritage: Local Mencap Societies and the Provision of Social Care in East Anglia, 1946–1990

This Open University project was funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund and ran from 2003 to 2005.
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Days Gone By: The Histories of Day Centres for People with Learning Difficulties

This Open University project was funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund and ran from 2006 to 2008.
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Digital Archive of Learning Disability History

In 2010 the Research Group, in close collaboration with the Rix Centre at the University of East London, carried out a scoping exercise to assess the possibilities of a digital archive of learning disability history.
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Empowerment and Disability: Informal Learning through Advocacy and Self-Advocacy

This Grundtvig Learning Partnership project involved The Open University with partners at three European Universities - the University of Gent , the University of Iceland and Trinity College Dublin.
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Hidden History

The Research Group supported Changing Our Lives, the Sandwell based organisation representing people with learning disabilities, to research and undertake an oral history project funded by The Heritage Lottery Fund, where young people with learning disabilities found out about the history of learning disabilities in their area.
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How My Life Has Changed: the experience of moving into supported living

Commissioned by Croydon Adult Services (2009-11) the Research Group deployed life history approaches to work with adults with learning disabilities and explore the experience of moving into Supported Living contexts.
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Oral history of Mental Welfare Officers

This Open University oral history research project in 2000 explored a little-known aspect of the history of social work - the history of mental welfare officers and their role in community care.
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Reclaiming the Past: the Role of Local Mencap Societies in the Development of Community Care in East Anglia, 1946–1980

This Open University project was funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund and ran from 2000 to 2002.
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Staying Local

The Staying Local Project explored the lived experiences of people with learning difficulties who remained within their home inner London borough between 1971 and 2007 - an era when many others were moved out-of-area to receive services-as were many of the people living at Winterbourne View.
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Sterilisation: Then and Now

The Research Group is committed to exploring the hidden history of sterilisation for women with learning disabilities alongside researching contemporary experiences of reproductive choice, control and loss.
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Unlocking the Past - A Royal Albert Hospital Archive

Between 2005 and 2007 this Community Service Volunteers (CSV) Heritage Lottery Funded oral history project, based in Lancaster, documented the residential and working culture of a former large Victorian long stay hospital for people with learning difficulties.
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Keeping Wartime Memories Alive

This was a Carlisle People First Research Team oral history project, which was supported by our Research Group, as well as other organisations.
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Contact us

About the Group

If you woud like to get in touch with the Social History of Learning Disability (SHLD) Research Group, please contact:

Liz Tilley 
Chair of the Social History of Learning Disability (SHLD) Research Group
School of Health, Wellbeing and Social Care
Faculty of Wellbeing, Education and Language Studies
The Open University
Walton Hall
Milton Keynes

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