Research achievement for College Clerical Assistant

It’s not just the academics at Swansea University’s College of Human and Health Sciences who are achieving fascinating research.

Teresa Hillier, a Senior Clerical Assistant in the College’s finance team is working with Mencap, the leading voice on learning disability, on a new project which seeks to showcase the hidden heritage of people with a learning disability in Wales.

The £292,900 Heritage Lottery Funded “Hidden Now Heard” project will capture the hidden and often painful living memories of former residents and staff from six of Wales’ long-stay hospitals which closed in 2006.

Teresa said: “I both work and volunteer for Mencap in addition to working for the University.  I volunteer as a researcher for them and my employed role is a volunteer co-ordinator – specifically for the Hidden Now Heard Project. 

“Before I became employed by Mencap I volunteered for them, as my research interest is in disability history, specifically in the role of the voluntary sector in the lives of people with disabilities.  I am starting a research Master’s at Swansea University’s College of Arts and Humanities based on this subject area in the next academic year.

Six regional museums across Wales will display exhibitions based on captured memories and the research undertaken, with Swansea Museum currently hosting an exhibition on Hensol Castle, which was used as a long stay hospital between 1927 and 2003.

She continued: “The exhibition in Swansea Museum is running until 1st March and has been very well received by visitors.  As well as people visiting the museum on a casual basis, we have had many planned visits from people working directly with adults with learning disabilities, and people who used to live near Hensol.  

“The exhibition is very interactive and challenges perceptions of adults with a learning disability and there is a lot of research and historical information packed in!

“We are now moving on to St David’s Hospital and have a call out for people with connections to St David’s to come forward.”

Mencap will be working in partnership with the National History Museum and a permanent exhibition will be created in St Fagan’s so that information about Wales’ long-stay hospitals will be available and accessible to the public, creating better understanding of a previously underrepresented part of our society.