The established charity has received £58,400 from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) for an exciting project From Donkeys to Innovators that celebrates its rich and unique 120 year history.

Made possible by money raised by National Lottery players, the project focuses on the charity’s history from its establishment as an organisation teaching children to be kind to animals into its current day role working with disabled people to provide innovative advice and information.

From Donkeys to Innovators celebrates the lives of the people involved with Disabled Living sharing their stories and contribution to the charity’s past. It also provides an opportunity for the public to learn more about Manchester’s social history as the charity has links with the city’s economic, cultural and health heritage, involving diverse community organisations and institutions.

Importantly, the voices of disabled people will be recognised, preserved and celebrated, documenting an important part of disability heritage.

Having nearly lost all of its archive in a fire in recent years, one key element of the project will be to ensure that the charity’s stories are preserved for the future by digitising all materials and depositing them in Manchester Central Libraries Archives+. This will also mean that the rich and vibrant stories can be viewed and share with the general public.

Young disabled people will be involved in making their own film reflecting on being disabled in the past compared to their own experiences today. They will use Disabled Living’s archives to gain an understanding of how disabled people lived years ago.

A new exhibition will be created from Disabled Living’s archives and oral histories collected from the stories of past and current service users, staff, volunteers, friends and supporters. This will be permanently installed in the charity’s Redbank House building in Cheetham Hill. Smaller community exhibitions will also be delivered by the Marple Local History Group and a local history group in North Wales. Disabled Living provided services that reached to Marple through the Manchester Children’s Orthopaedic Hospital and holiday provision in Abergele and Old Colwyn, North Wales.

There are lots of opportunities for people to get involved in the project and learn new skills. Disabled Living is looking for people interested in disability heritage and social history to help with preparing the new exhibition, collecting oral histories, and digitise and catalogue the archive. Training will be provided by representatives from Archives+, People’s History Museum and oral histories professional Fiona Cosson.

Six young disabled people will also have the opportunity to be trained in film making skills to make a short film about their lives compared to those of disabled people in the past. No previous skills are required as all training will be provided for the young people by experienced film makers Sue Reddish and Jim Dalziel.

Debra Evans, Chief Executive of Disabled Living said: “We are thrilled to have received support for our project ‘From Donkey’s to Innovators’ thanks to National Lottery players. 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”.

Earlier this month, Disabled Living launched its new project to celebrate its 120th anniversary with a 1940’s themed celebratory tea party for people with dementia and their carers.

If you are interested in getting involved in the project, please contact Natasha at Disabled Living on or call 0161 214 5959.



Nathan Lee, Head of HLF North West, said: “this tremendous project offers a wealth of opportunities for a wide range of people, from developing key heritage skills to documenting an important aspect of disability history. We are delighted that money from National Lottery players can support this project, and help recognise and celebrate the voices of disabled people.”


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