One of the students, Finuala, a first year social science student worked with me on her work placement,.  This project brought together six UCC students, with six people attached to services for people with intellectual, neurological and physical disabilities.  All twelve participated in a six-week DE course.  Key student Finuala and key community partner Vera worked closely together.  The class made and produced a live radio show and some worked on a digital archive which included stories of two individuals, including Vera, who told her story of moving out of institutional care after twenty years, into her own home.  This group is referred to as the Mixed Abilities Group (MAG) in the study.

… a participatory method of identifying and analysing issues in order to decide how to act on them. […]   it combines a critical (and dialogic) understanding of both the structures of our world (political, economic, environmental, cultural, etc.) and the fluid movement of forces that act to sustain those structures in hegemonic equilibrium. Understanding that, when shared through dialogue, including drawing, and popular theatre and storytelling, allows for relationships that resist the tricky ways in which people and groups have been trained to often collude in their own oppression.  Naming the Moment advocates and necessitates alliances across many sectors (from labour to community to academia) and between different social movements. It is a multi-cropping practice of story-sharing, skills building and democratic dialogue that is simultaneously theory and practice (ibid.).

Finuala, could hear, see and feel the power of what we were witnessing.  As an educator I had purposely brought the attention of the class to this learning moment, so it was rewarding to hear both students had understand the significance of that class discussion.  She talks about this in the following extract from the radio show where she is speaking about her work placement:

Finuala:         Well, it’s a partnership with a person with disability.  You’re on equal grounds with the people.  You do the same work, which is very humanising and it gives you a chance to know a person that you have never met before.  My partner was Vera and she was in a wheelchair.  We did activities such as a live link from India and talking to refugees and doing posters and…fun.

Claire:              Perfect.  There was a link between the work placement and the refugee crisis?

Finuala:            Yes, we did two classes on the refugees and the refugee person who was once in direct provision came in and talked to us and told us her experience.  Her name was Nora (pseudonym) and she had a very good story, a sad story to tell about how she survived in direct provision.

Yes.  Also, the feelings of Nora and disabilities in general, it would be like they’re incarcerated.  Many people were in institutions such as my partner Vera and she felt empathy and a connectedness to her because she was in an institution for years but now she’s moved into her own house, which is a big deal.  A lot of people can’t do that.  People just want freedom and it’s a very simple thing to give people but it’s not been given.

Claire:              Vera, the person in the wheelchair that you were working with was able to leave institutional living and live independently.

Finuala:            In her own house, yes.

Claire:              She would stress the importance of that and you said she felt a connectedness with Nora who was living in an institution as well?

Finuala:            Yes.

Claire:              Perfect.  She would like to see something like that extended to those living in direct provision as well.  Yes, more freedom for people.  Interacting with the community, maybe that would be better than putting them into institutes.