Oral History Training Session (by Jennifer)

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On Wednesday 8th August 2018 Jan Walmsley came to Solihull Action through Advocacy to deliver Oral History training. We had a mixture of our volunteers and service users attending the training and it was nice to see new volunteers.

We talked about Mabel Cooper’s story and watched a You Tube clip of her life in St Lawrence’s Hospital and how she coped when she left the hospital. We had a group talk about the clip and how it made us feel.

We also had a group discussion on ideas for questions to ask during an interview and the dos and don’ts of an interview.


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We watched a clip of Howard who was interviewing James at Lennox Castle. We watched the clip a couple times because we were focused on James and found it upsetting with what he was saying, that he was going on a day trip with his dad but instead his dad just left him at the hospital. We watched it again and tried concentrate on Howard and his interview skills to again give us ideas for when we practice to interview people.

We discussed the use of open and closed questions and also Howard’s different interview skills. In another video with Howard interviewing Margaret we felt that he wasn’t as respectful to Margaret as he was with Howard and wasn’t giving her time to respond to the questions. We discussed that it could be sensitive with a man talking to a woman and vice versa.

We then did our practice interviews, we separated into separate groups. One group had an interviewer, interviewee and an observer and we talked it in turns to give us all a chance to practice our interview skills. We recorded the interviews and came back to group and discussed each other’s interviews and the feedback from the observers.


We all found the training really useful and has given us more confidence to be able to interview people that have been in Middlefield or Hampton Manor.

I feel it is important to highlight people’s stories and what they went through just for having a Learning Disability. The clips that we watched in training really made us think about the living conditions and how people were treated just for being different. It still carries on today and we shouldn’t be treated differently and not everyone gets to have their voice heard.