Project Ability and C-Change in Aberdeen

If you have a learning disability and are over 50 years old, it is quite likely you spent time in hospital. At that time there was far less social care available to support people living in their own homes and many people with learning disabilities spent years living in hospital. By the 1990’s social attitudes had begun to change; the hospitals started closing and people were moving out of hospital and into the community. By the turn of the century most hospitals in Scotland had closed or were very close to closure.

In 2012, Project Ability and C-Change Glasgow received funding from the Heritage Lottery and worked together to create a social history project for people who had lived in Lennox Castle Hospital; to share their photographs and memories and tell their stories in their own words on film, in text and in pictures and objects.  The work was framed within a website, several publications and exhibitions. Lennox Castle Hospital was a large long stay hospital ten miles outside Glasgow which closed in 2002.

On Tuesday 16th June Project Ability artists Tracy Gorman and Cameron Morgan were in Aberdeen. They had been invited by our friends at C-Change to come to their Aberdeen office to meet people with a learning disability who had lived in hospital, notably Ladybridge in Banff, to see if they were interested in getting involved in their own social history project. 

Tracy and Cameron had searched the internet for maps and images of the hospital and planned to use these as a starting point for discussion, an “aide memoire” but this amazing group had pin sharp memories and did not require any prompting. They embraced the concept of the project with gusto! The photographs were poured over and in a few short hours people and places named, the surrounding farms and villages were located and the Ladysbridge train station which was closed to passengers in 1964 and to all traffic in 1968. 

We would like to return to talk to more people and gather in contributions from ex patients, ex staff and family members but right now we will continue to keep in contact with the people we met on the 18th and together plan how we can take this important work forward.

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