What is the project?
Disabled people from Kingston upon Thames were at the forefront of the Disability Rights Movement in the UK from 1960s to the 1990s; from closure of large institutions to the creation of independent living, the formation of user-led organisations and the introduction of direct payments. In 1967, a group was formed in Kingston with the objective of lobbying for change, eventually becoming Kingston Centre for Independent Living in 2001. They demanded more choice and control, and the chance to live independently in their local community. They campaigned for equal rights and acceptance. At the heart of this was a network of disabled people and their supporters who fought for a more equal society through letter writing, demonstrations and campaigning to both local and national government.
The ‘Fighting for our Rights’ project ran from November 2016 to March 2018, and focused on gathering some of these amazing stories through oral history interviews, to create a permanent record and inspire a new generation. Through a generous grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund, we can ensure that this history is captured and not lost.
The project involved working with a number of partners, including Kingston University, StoryAid, St Philip’s School and Kingston Heritage Service. The project involved:
• Displays at Kingston Museum and Kingston Heritage Centre
• Four pop-up displays at Surbiton, Kingston, Chessington and New Malden libraries
• A school resource for local year 6 students
• A new website featuring the oral history interviews
• A drama performance by students from St Philip’s School
How can I hear some of the interviews?
The project involved conducting interviews with 23 important and inspiring people from Kingston’s disabled community and local authority, including disability rights pioneers Ann Macfarlane and Baroness Jane Campbell. The project’s website is now live, and features all of the interviews as well as short extracts from each.
Reflecting on the project
As part of the project’s celebration event, Ann Macfarlane and Baroness Jane Campbell recorded a speech about the project and their role in the Independent Living Scheme in Kingston.
For further information, please visit kingstonfightingforourrights.co.uk