To mark the start of Brandon Trust’s 20th anniversary year, the Bristol-born charity is holding a free photographic exhibition at the Watershed featuring the inspirational stories of 20 people with learning disabilities.
‘Twenty’ documents two decades of positive change in social care and disability awareness through the eyes of individuals the Bristol charity has supported since its creation in 1994.
Brandon Trust now operates various services across the South of England, supporting 1,200 people, but first came into being following the merger of two small housing associations, Buttress Trust and South Avon Housing Association. The catalyst was the closure of many of the long-stay hospital institutions, transferring learning disability services from the NHS into community support.
Bristol and the surrounding area has a long history caring for people with disabilities, with the area housing many large long-stay hospitals and institutions, including Purdown, Leigh Court, Hortham, Hanham, Brentry, Glenside and Stoke Park.
The landscape looks significantly different in 2014. Gone are the institutions, the long-stay hospitals, the restrictions and control. In place, we see more and more people with disabilities becoming free to live the life they want, not the lives ‘we’ think they want!
And these 20 visual exhibits detail the real, personal, success stories of independence, finding employment, education and happiness; life-changing moments with no barriers to freedom and no restrictions on choice.
The free exhibition is at the Watershed, 1 Canons Road, Harbourside, Bristol, BS1 5TX, and will be open daily (10am-10pm) to the general public over Easter from Wednesday, April 16 until Monday, April 21.
Event organiser Matt Boyle said: “This has been a really exciting project to work on because those involved have some truly powerful stories, which I think are important to share with the public.
“It’s open to the public and free to enter, so why not pop along, take it all in, see how many peoples’ lives have positively changed, and leave us your thoughts in the comments book.”
For more information on Twenty and Brandon Trust visit www.brandontrust.org.
Susan Grant, 62, of Thornbury, one of the 20 people featured in ‘Twenty’
At just two-years-old, Bristolian Susan, who has cerebral palsy, was placed in Stoke Park long-stay hospital where she remained institutionalised for nearly 42 years, living alongside 26 others on a ward with ‘just enough room to walk between the beds, sleeping tied to a cot and sharing communal clothes’.
Stoke Park closed in 1997. 12 years ago Susan was first supported by Brandon Trust and moved into her own home in Thornbury where she has shared a happy life with her late husband Colin. We continue to support her daily to live the life she chooses.
Susan said: “I wasn’t happy at Stoke Park. I never had any choice and would not want to go back.”
Support worker Anne Sheppard, who supports Susan now but also worked as a nurse at Stoke Park when Susan was there, said: “I can understand why she used to get frustrated when she had this amount of intellegence and was not allowed to use any of it.
“Now, she sorts everything out herself in her life. She has got choice now, it means everything and is the most important thing she has got. You can get up when you want, go to bed when you want, watch what you want, play your music when you want, you eat what you want, and she says what she wants.”
Brandon Trust is a Bristol-based UK charity working throughout the South West of England and in London, supporting approximately 1,200 people with learning disabilities and autism to live the lives they choose. For more information, visit www.brandontrust.org