Strathmartine project reveals Hospital Histories

The memories of people who lived and worked at Dundee’s Strathmartine Hospital have been being captured in a major heritage project, including a new documentary film which will be premiered this Friday, August 28th.

Strathmartine was one of many institutions created in the nineteenth century for people with a learning disability and was closed in 2003. The Strathmartine Hospital Histories project, which has been running since July 2014, aimed to record the histories of people who lived and worked there.

Around 30 former staff and residents have contributed to an oral history of their time at Strathmartine.

The `Strathmartine Discoveries’ event at Discovery Point on Friday 28th August will feature the premiere of ‘Breaking Down The Walls’, the project documentary created by film director Iain Mitchell. The project website will also be launched, serving as a resource for anyone who is interested in finding out more about the hospital and the lives of people who lived and worked there.

The project will also launch its storytelling toolkit for those who wish to record their own stories after the project, and a training toolkit for social care professionals, aimed at ensuring people with a learning disability never again live in institutions such as Strathmartine Hospital.

Strathmartine Hospital Histories is a Heritage Lottery Funded project, led by learning disability charity Thera Trust in partnership with University of Dundee Archive Services.

Caroline Brown, Deputy Archivist at the University of Dundee, said, “Strathmartine Hospital Histories has allowed people to remember and talk about their time as residents and patients at Strathmartine. We have been able to record their memories of living and working there so their experiences, good and bad, are not forgotten.

“The recordings and documents will be preserved in the University Archive. While we have the official records of the hospital it is important that the voices of the people associated with it are also kept. In addition the project has informed educators and policy makers and those who work with people with learning disabilities, so a better approach to care can be taken.

“The dialogue which the project has begun will, we hope, be just a start in a process of reconciliation for all involved.”

Sharon Shortland, Fundraising Manager for Thera Trust, said, “This project is now coming to a close and has been remarkable. We are grateful to everyone who has contributed their time, memories and skills to make it happen.

“A wealth of new information has been collated for the archive, telling the real stories, both heartwarming and heartbreaking.”

Attendees at Friday’s event will be able to gain insight into the hospital’s history and listen to recordings of interviews from former staff and residents. They will also have the opportunity to interact with former residents and staff as they tell their stories and share their own memories of the hospital.

The event at Discovery Point takes place from 4.15pm on Friday August 28th.

Notes to editors

About Thera Trust

Thera Trust is a registered charity that leads a number of subsidiary companies based around the UK. The subsidiaries are known as Thera Group and together they support adults with a learning disability with all aspects of their lives. This includes support at home and in the community; financial advocacy; checking the quality of support; housing brokerage and recruiting a personal assistant. Thera was first set up in 1998 and now supports over 1000 people and employs more than 2500 staff.

About the Heritage Lottery Fund

Using money raised through the National Lottery, the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) aims to make a lasting difference for heritage, people and communities across the UK and help build a resilient heritage economy. From museums, parks and historic places to archaeology, natural environment and cultural traditions, we invest in every part of our diverse heritage. HLF has supported almost 35,000 projects with more than £5.3bn across the UK.


Roddy Isles
Head of Press
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