Close to 100 people attended the MADHOUSE symposium, which asked the question, ‘has institutionalisation ended?’ Throughout the day, guests heard from Professor the Baroness Sheila Hollins, Access All Areas artists, Nick Llewellyn (Artistic Director of Access All Areas), Jan Walmsley & Susan Ledger (Project Researchers), Dr Valerie Sinason (Child Psychotherapist and Adult Psychoanalyst) and David Towell (Centre for Welfare Reform) on the themes of institutionalisation, disability and social isolation.
Belonging was produced in collaboration with Access All Areas as part of the MADHOUSE project, which has explored the history of institutionalisation and the effects that isolation and confinement have on people with learning disabilities. Symposium guests were also invited to see Access All Areas’ production ‘MADHOUSE re:exit’ which aims to raise awareness of the issues and provoke change.
The event saw the launch of the BELONG manifesto, too – a living manifesto for a better life for people with learning disabilities, which calls for more inclusive communities everywhere. Attendees tweeted their support of the manifesto with the hashtag #LDBelong, pledging simple, practical ways of helping people to belong.
New Beyond Words title Belonging was created by a group of learning-disabled and autistic actors from Access All Areas working together with Baroness Hollins, Dr Valerie Sinason and illustrator Lucy Bergonzi. The group officially launched the book to conclude the morning’s speeches.
Baroness Hollins said: “Reading this book will give people more confidence to get involved in their local work, social or faith communities. Belonging will help all of us to think about what we can do to make sure that the people around us feel truly welcomed, supported and appreciated members of society”.
Speaking about the book, Access All Areas artist Rufaro Asuquo said: “It’s brilliant, beautiful and inspiring. It’s a bit of an eye-opener.” Shola Cole Wilson, another Access All Areas artist involved in the project, said: “Making the book has given me confidence.”
Our new Belong Book Set includes six stories which can support people to think about the topics raised by the manifesto, and what they mean for them.