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.
In 2017, Kingston Centre for Independent Living (KCIL) collaborated with disabled people and those working with the disability community to collect stories regarding disability rights in the borough. Generously supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund, the ‘Fighting for our Rights’ project involved conducting oral history interviews with prominent local people to celebrate this fascinating history.
Student nurse volunteers from Kingston University and Heritage2Health were trained as oral historians and supported the collecting of these amazing stories. As a result, an amazing new educational resource, that can be adapted to suit any learning environment, has been created to help spread awareness around diversity, equality and inclusion. This resource is currently in use at institutions such as Dysart School and Kingston University.
To view the interviews at the heart of this project -click here