Fighting for our Rights: heritage project

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 focuses on gathering 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 involves working with a number of partners, including Kingston University, StoryAid, St Philip’s School and Kingston Heritage Service. By spring 2018, the project will have involved:

  • Displays at Kingston Museum and Kingston Heritage Centre
  • Four pop-up displays at Surbiton, Kingston, Chessington and New Malden libraries
  • Creating a school resource for local secondary students
  • Launching 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?

In July 2017, the last of the oral history interviews was conducted. We have interviewed 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.

Dates for your diary

Our displays are now confirmed. The dates are:

Kingston Museum  November 24th 2017 – February 22nd 2018

Kingston Heritage Centre, Guildhall December 6th 2017 – February 27th 2018

Kingston Library November 21st – November 27th 2017

New Malden Library November 28th – December 4th 2017

Hook & Chessington Library December 5th – December 11th 2017

Surbiton Library December 12th – December 18th 2017

How can I find out more?

If you would like to find out more about the project, please email the Oral History Project Manager Jen Kavanagh at