Exploring learning disabilities: supporting belonging
Exploring learning disabilities: supporting belonging

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2.2 Life in an institution

To find out about living in institutions, you will now turn again to Mabel Cooper. Mabel was born in 1943 and lived in institutions for much of her early life. In later life Mabel became a campaigner against institutions and joined The Open University’s Social History of Learning Disability Group. This gave her the opportunity to tell her story, and to find out more by looking at her care records. In the next video in Activity 3, Mabel talks you through her experiences, starting with how she came to be in the care system in the first place.

Activity 3 Getting into the care system

Timing: Allow about 15 minutes

Watch this video in which Mabel describes how she came to be in the care system and note down the reasons she gives.

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Mabel’s mum was begging, so was homeless with Mabel as a baby. When they were separated, Mabel was put into children’s homes where she took a test and was told she needed care for the rest of her life.

Mabel remained in an institution until she was in her mid-forties.

Did Mabel’s story shock you? Maybe you think that happened a long time ago, and that it’s different today. Unfortunately, even today there are people who get caught up in the care system and are housed far from their families. You will learn more about that in Session 8.

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