Rightful Lives Exhibition – what we’ve been looking at

Last month saw the opening of Rightful Lives, an online exhibition exploring the theme of Human Rights and people with learning disabilities and/or autism.

They make the very good point that the Human Rights Act seems to barely touch the lives of people with learning disabilities, and of course there have been some very high profile cases in the past few years where individuals with learning disabilities have had their rights totally violated.

Of course the high profile cases have been terrible and avoidable tragedies there are also those small, ongoing everyday tragedies that people with learning disabilities face every day. Like not being able to see the end of a football match due to the staff ‘handover’, or being told to live many miles away from your family, or just not being supported to see your mates. (See our Manifesto for an Ordinary Life for more on this).

Rightful Lives takes a look at the issues from a variety of perspectives, from preventable deaths to people being supported to express themselves in the way they choose.

It’s an amazingly varied exhibition. It’s funny, educational, meditational and thought provoking. But it’s also deeply tragic, and will probably make you both cry and at other times feel a rage coming on.

As John Lydon said ‘Anger is an energy’ and I hope that Rightful Lives will lead people to use their rage as a positive force for change.

You must go an explore the exhibition yourselves but here’s a few highlights that popped out whilst I was perusing it’s halls.

Bashment Ben 

Going from Christian rock and Take That to discovering an obsessive love of Bashment music and being accepted in to that community because of it.

Open Future Learning

A great collection of short films from our friends at Open Future Learning that challenge the way we think as support workers.

Rightful Lives – Susi Petherick

A meditation on what the world (or our country) would be like if people were allowed to be fully involved in their communities with their unique skills encouraged and celebrated, not shut away and ignored.

Moments That Matter

Ada and the right to go to the pub

Stephen Harvey – Moan Mats

Love the picture of two half started pints of beer with beer mats that say “I am not allowed to watch the end of the football match” “…because my support worker has to finish his shift on time.”

Jack’s Museum

Jack Moore’s incredible own private natural history museum

Heart breaking stories of how people just aren’t treated as human like ‘The Phone Call’ 

and George 

and also ‘I’m dreaming of a Rightful Christmas’

We were of course really please that a couple of exhibits from us made it in too:

Heavy Load – Shut Your Bollocks. The band at their sweariest best, venting their spleen about people who talk the talk but don’t ‘give a shit about me!’

And The Wild Rainbows – the LGBTQ+ advisory group that was set up by people with learning disabilities who use our Gig Buddies project.

and of course Steven and Mark. The breaching of Steven’s Human Rights and how these rights are summed up in the tiny little ordinary things in life that are the most important to all of us. The right to pour a strawberry milkshake at home and watch Countdown on the telly.

Those are the things that make for ordinary lives and rightful lives.

And our love goes out to Mark too and we wish him a speedy recovery.




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