CASBA Advocacy have done a project on the lives of people living in Monyhull Hospital, ‘From Institution to Community’. On Saturday 6th October they had their open event to show all their work since starting the project September last year.
Joe Peacock the Project Coordinator gave a talk first explaining about the project and he did very well. He was saying that there was about 1400 people living at Monyhull at one point and that it is an important part in local history and is a landmark in the local community.
The idea of starting the project was to raise awareness of the barriers that people with a Learning Disability face, and to celebrate and learn from the peoples lives of their time at Monyhull.
Joe with volunteers interviewed over 25 people however some people found it painful and hard to speak about their memories. There was a contrast of feelings and emotions when talking about Monyhull, some felt angry and others felt happy. One of the highlights of the project was to share something new which shows in the book that they have done and their exhibition.
After the talk we watched a film on the story/history of Monyhull and while I was watching it, I went back to the interesting fact that I saw in the book and that I never knew, only 6% of people with a Learning Disability have a paid job. When I was watching the film I felt sadness, and how far people with a disability still need to go to be accepted into their local community. It also made me think how lucky I am to have such a wonderful opportunity to have a paid job, which I can’t thank Solihull Action through Advocacy enough. They were looking for a person to be a Community Connection Worker for their new project, and you didn’t need any qualifications you just needed to have a Learning Disability, I got the job and 8 years later I am now working on the Hidden Lives Remembered Project.
I wish I was Hermione Granger and I could just wave my wand and everyone with a disability would be in a paid job and accepted for who they are and be able to lead a normal independent life and just be the same as everyone else and not keep having people label us.
Lauren the Co-Ordinator for the drama group introduced the drama group and they did a brilliant performance on life living in Monyhull Hospital, it really made you think what life must have been like living there, almost like a prison, not being allowed personal items such as toys and at times not getting the chance to have breakfast etc. The drama group were wonderful and did themselves proud, it take a lot of courage to perform in front of people, well done everyone.
Rev Sior Coleman also talked about his time in the parish and his involvement with CASBA, it is great that people that were living in Monyhull still come to Monyhull Church, it shows that it was important to them to be a part of a community and to help them live in a community once Monyhull closed.
Eileen McCann Monyhull Finance Manager talked about Monyhull and the resettlement process. The resettlement started in the 1980s and at the time of closure there was 500 people still living at Monyhull when the closure started in the 90s. Relatives of those living there were informed of the closure and the notified relatives were anxious about what was going to happen when Monyhull closes. Individual meeting plans were set up, to discuss where the residents would move to and suitable people for them to live with. Most of the residents were resettled by 31st March 1999 and the last residents were resettled in 2003.
That is why projects such as CASBA and Our Hidden Lives Remembered Project is so important to raise awareness to outside people that we should not be labelled and there shouldn’t be only 6% of people with a Learning Disability in work. It is not right, and it needs to stop, the drama group did a wonderful performance on life at Monyhull and it really highlights the way you get treated for being different and times have changed but there is still a lot of stigma surrounding people with a Learning Disability and it really needs to stop. If you look at all the history surrounding people with a Learning Disability nothing really has changed and it needs to change as a recognition and respect to all those that were in Monyhull, Hampton Manor, Middlefield and all hospitals.
I would like to thank CASBA for a wonderful event that they have put on and congratulate Joe and all the team for all their hard work, I very much look forward to inviting you to our launch event.
Find out more about CASBA’s project here