On Thursday 29 September 2022, members of our Surviving Through Story group, Ajay, Paul, Terry, Vicky, Gosia and Kanchan, took the train to Brighton.
It was a bittersweet moment. On the one hand we were eager to visit ‘Lockdown the Lost Years’, an exhibition by artists with learning disabilities supported by Brighton & Hove Speak Out, a local independent advocacy group. On the other hand, it was a poignant moment, as this would be the last time that members of the Surviving Through Story group would meet as the project officially came to an end.
Our train journey was full of energetic chatter. It had been a while since we had all come together and seen each other in person post Covid. Some of us had only seen each other online, self-contained in rectangular boxes on Zoom or Teams. It was lovely seeing that people actually existed outside the virtual world!
Ajay helped us navigate the streets of Brighton to find the Jubilee Library. We were very happy and excited to meet members of Brighton & Hove Speak Out, Danielle, Sarah, Emily, and Noelle, a freelance researcher.
We really enjoyed looking at the memory boxes and scanning the QR codes to hear the evocative stories of the artists who had created them.
All of us were really touched by these memory boxes. They gave us a glimpse of what that person was feeling and thinking at the time. The memory boxes showcased that life during Covid was hard and challenging but also that people had hope and resilience.
Most of us thought Hannah’s memory box was the most stirring. On the outside it was beautiful and bright with colourful butterflies. The inside of the box provided a stark contrast, showing her as a prisoner in her own home.
However, Susan’s memory box was full of hope and happiness. It had beautiful, colourful thread work depicting flowers and a butterfly.
After viewing the exhibition, we all went out for lunch. We talked about our hope that we would get the opportunity to work together again soon.
We ended the trip by taking a stroll through the tranquil Pavilion Gardens, a lovely end to our visit.
The project, ‘Covid Stories from the Learning Disability Community’, has collected the stories of 25 people with learning disabilities during the Covid pandemic and the recovery phase. Click below to see the stories.
Kanchan Kerai, The RIX Centre