Manchester charity Disabled Living has been awarded £58,400 by the Heritage Lottery Fund for a project celebrating their 120 year story.
From Donkeys to Innovators may seem like an odd name for the project, but it’s a perfect description of how one of Manchester’s oldest charities has changed over the years.
Using stories from service users, staff, volunteers, friends and supporters throughout the years, the exhibition will focus on the charity’s history from being an organisation teaching children to be kind to animals to providing services for disabled people.
The charity formed as the Band of Kindness and Children’s Help Society in 1897 with an annual donkey parade. With a growing focus on helping people with disabilities, it changed its name to The Crippled Children’s Help Society in 1903.
After a number of years helping disabled children throughout the UK from various bases in the Manchester area, including a place called Peacefield and the Children’s Orthopaedic Hospital, both in Marple, the charity went on to provide services for people of all ages.
They settled on the name Disabled Living in 1992. Since then they’ve celebrated their centenary with a massive butterfly ball, helped launch a massive Kidz up North event at Bolton’s Reebok Arena and set up services to help disabled people find work.
Part of the the lottery-funded project will be to create an exhibition from their archives at Redbank House in Cheetham Hill.
And six young disabled people will have the opportunity to make a short film about how their lives have changed compared to disabled people in the past. Training will be provided by experienced film makers Sue Reddish and Jim Dalziel.
“We are thrilled to have received support for our project From Donkey’s to Innovators,” said Disabled Living chief executive Debra Evans.
“The name of the project alone suggests there is more to our organisation than first meets the eye. Our team of staff and volunteers are looking forward to sharing our heritage – the innovation in the early days, how the organisation has changed over the years, and how we have maintained the momentum to support disabled children, adults and older people”.
If you’d like to take part in collecting oral histories, cataloguing and archiving for the exhibition click here.