At just two-years-old, Susan Grant, who has cerebral palsy, was placed in Stoke Park long-stay hospital in Bristol where she remained institutionalised for nearly 42 years, living alongside 26 others on a ward with ‘just enough room to walk between the beds, sleeping tied to a cot and sharing communal clothes’.
Stoke Park closed in 1997.
Susan said: “I wasn’t happy at Stoke Park. I never had any choice and would not want to go back.”
Twelve years ago Susan, 62, began receiving from was first supported by Brandon Trust, a UK charity supporting approximately 1,400 children and adults with learning disabilities and autism. She moved into her own home in Thornbury where she has shared a happy life with her late husband Colin. The charity continues to support her daily to live the life she chooses.
Support worker Anne Sheppard, who supports Susan now but also worked as a nurse at Stoke Park when Susan was there, said: “I can understand why she used to get frustrated when she had this amount of intellegence and was not allowed to use any of it.
“Now, she sorts everything out herself in her life. She has got choice now, it means everything and is the most important thing she has got. You can get up when you want, go to bed when you want, watch what you want, play your music when you want, you eat what you want, and she says what she wants.”
Susan’s story is one of twenty in a photographic exhibition put on by Brandon Trust that has been touring the UK. ‘20’ documents two decades of positive and freeing change in social care and disability awareness through the eyes of individuals the charity has supported across its service areas since its creation. The 20 visual exhibits detail real, personal, success stories of independence, finding employment, education and happiness; life-changing moments with no barriers to freedom and no restrictions on choice.
Visit the exhibition
The free exhibition is at gallery@oxo – Oxo Tower Wharf, Bargehouse Street, South Bank, London, SE1 9PH. It is on from 8-19 July, and is open daily (11am-6pm) to the public.
For more information on Twenty or the work Brandon Trust do please visit their website.