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Celebrating Alf’s Act

26 Nov 2021

Our Disabled Staff Network, Manchester Histories and the family of the late Lord Alf Morris of Manchester reach finals in Manchester Culture Awards

DigiFest 2020

Our Disabled Staff Network, in partnership with Manchester Histories and the family of the late Lord Alf Morris of Manchester, reached the finals of the Manchester Culture Awards, in the Equality and Social Justice category.

The team were celebrated for their work on Manchester Histories DigiFest 2020: Celebrating Alf’s Act – 50 Years of Disabled People’s Rights. Hosted online in September 2020, DigiFest celebrated 50 years of the Chronically Sick and Disabled Person’s Act (CSDPA) 1970, affectionately known as Alf’s Act after the MP who pioneered it.

It also celebrated the late Lord Alf Morris, who was the MP for Wythenshawe from 1964 to 1997, pioneer of CSDPA and first Minister for Disabled People (in the UK and the world). Our University conferred an honorary doctorate degree on Alf in 1998.

Reaching the finals was timely as it’s now Disability History Month (18 November – 18 December), especially as a key aim of DigiFest was to celebrate the CSDPA. Landmark legislation and the first of its kind in Great Britain and the world, it enabled disabled people to lead independent lives and led to the 1995 Disability Discrimination Act and 2010 Equality Act.

“Through the event we challenged where disabled people’s rights are today, used it as a platform to learn from history and raised awareness to create an inclusive society,” Kirsty Hutchison, co-Chair of our Disabled Staff Network, said.

DigiFest 2020 took place online, with a pop-up TV studio set up in Manchester Central Library. Compered by comedian Jackie Hagan, content included short films about the life and work of Alf Morris, commissions including young disabled people’s music, One Bee Choir and a Venture Arts programme design and contributions from Andy Burnham, Mayor of Greater Manchester and Baroness Jane Campbell.

Other thought-provoking, moving, entertaining contributions exploring the positive legacy of Alf’s Act as well as the current challenges faced included a ‘Right to Life’ debate hosted by Victoria Macdonald, Channel 4 News, Health and Social Care Editor. This explored how many disabled people are forced to fight to live, most recently in wake of doctors enforcing ‘Do Not Resuscitate’ orders on disabled people during COVID-19 pandemic.

Throughout the weekend of DigiFest, viewing figures reached 1,700 on the Friday night and a further 1,100 on the Saturday.

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