The charity Leonard Cheshire Disability has received £53,000 for a project to raise awareness of the history of disabled people. The Leonard Cheshire Disability Archive project will demonstrate the changes in how disabled people lived their lives and increase access to archive materials. It will generate oral history with people who had contact with and experience of the charity’s founder Leonard Cheshire and the services. It also aims to increase the confidence of disabled people to talk about their experiences of care and capture a unique part of our social history.
The development funding awarded by the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF), will enable the UK’s largest voluntary sector provider of services for disabled people to carry out vital conservation work, digitise the ‘Le Court’ collection from Leonard Cheshire’s first service and capture oral history interviews with disabled people. The archive project will create an accessible web portal and allow on-line public access to the collections for the first time.
A community engagement programme is also planned and will run in six locations in the Home Counties of Surrey, Sussex and Kent with trained volunteers assisting community groups to share memories and experiences.
The project will use the archive materials from ‘Le Court’ which was purpose built for its disabled residents. Le Court had a film unit, radio station, publishers, archive and artists group run by disabled people and played a role in the beginnings of the disability rights movement
Stephanie Nield, Leonard Cheshire Disability, Archivist, said: “We have 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 history. Our founder, Leonard Cheshire, 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 amazing story with the world.”
About Leonard Cheshire Disability
Leonard Cheshire Disability is the UK’s largest voluntary sector providers of services to disabled people. We support thousands of people with physical and learning disabilities in the UK and we work with Cheshire partner organisations in 54 countries around the world. We campaign for change and provide innovative services that give disabled people the opportunity to live life their way. Visit www.leonardcheshire.org