Day 97: Jack’s Cats for Justice #107days

Today was adopted by Gina and Jack. Gina Aylward, is Assistant Social Work Practice Learning Co-ordinator and a member of the Centre for Disability Research(CeDR) at Lancaster University. She had this to say about why they are supporting #107days and #JusticeforLB:

I had seen pictures of Connor advertising a seminar event being presented by Chris Hatton. This led me to some further website reading, and then attending his seminar Laughing Boy versus the Zombie Institutions: Closing the new institutions for people with learning disabilities [Day 49].

Having worked with people with disabilities in community and residential settings for many years, the website and presentation by Chris struck chords in me of sorrow/anger/frustration, as to how this young person‘s path led to his untimely and avoidable death. It is not always easy to identify resources and support for people with complex needs, but everyone should be able to access a basic safe and safe environment, even when their way forward may be unclear.

On a personal level, Connor’s story has resonances for me as I also live with a unique and creative dude. My son is passionate about nature and the environment.

Gina, and her son Jack, decided that they wanted to support #JusticeforLB. Here’s what they decided:

My son and I have talked about the #JusticeforLB campaign, and both of us fully support it. As he is still of school age, he raises money for the things he believes in by making small cats out of recycled materials.


Each cat takes approximately 2-3 hours to make, and is a valuable addition to any household. They can also make great gifts! We aim to raise money for the campaign by selling the hand made charity cats. An individual cat costs £3, or 2 kittens for £3.

On Saturday a number of us joined Gina, Jack and Rob to celebrate the end of the exhibition Systema Naturæ: A History of In-animate Nature by Rob Williams and Jack Aylward-Williams at The Gallery Exhibition Rooms, Atlas Works, Carlisle. The exhibition was an opportunity to view their prodigious collection of specimens drawn from numerous pedestrian expeditions in Britain and abroad.


You now have the opportunity to own a piece of Jack’s art by purchasing one of his Cats for LB. You can buy them for a minimum donation of £3 and you are welcome to pay more if you’d like to make a greater donation to LB’s Fighting Fund.

If you wish to order a cat then you can do so in one of three ways:

  1. Pay by bank transfer into the LB Fighting Fund account: Sort code 08-92-99 Account No. 65698046 and then email Hannah with your order
  2. Pay by Paypal by transferring funds to LB’s Fighting Fund account: and then email Hannah with your order
  3. Buy cats for cash in person from Gina Aylward or Hannah Morgan.

If you are buying online (Options 1 or 2) please can you include your Surname and the word Cat in your transfer details, so that we can match your purchase to your email. When emailing please include ‘Cat’ in the subject line and if you are ordering more than one please state the number in the email.

Day 49: An academic point? #107days

Day 49 was adopted by the Centre for Disability Research (CeDR) at Lancaster University. Hannah Morgan and Chris Hatton, two of our greatest supporters since #JusticeforLB evolved, organised and presented two events, a lecture on Institutional Abuse for first year students on the Contemporary Social Problems module and a seminar by Chris, Laughing Boy versus the Zombie Institution: Closing the new institutions for people with learning disabilities. They live tweeted the seminar and have compiled a storify about the day here.

When asked why they are supporting #107days and #JusticeforLB, Hannah had this to say:


I’ve known Sara from the disability studies circuit going back to the first Disability Studies conference we hosted here at Lancaster in 2003 and always held in the George Fox building in the picture. Since then we’ve met up at different conferences and events and always at the Lancaster Conference.  One of the things I really value about disability studies is the sense of community that has developed and the pleasure taken from watching people’s work evolve and develop over time. Sara came to the first conference as a phd student presenting ‘I’m sorry, she’s special needs”: explaining learning disabilities in public encounters. As her blog readers will know she has a particular gift for a snappy title and for writing that is engaging, rigorous and thoughtfully. I started following her blog soon after it started often laughed at the early LB tales and sharing her frustration at how little was offered and how little value attached to the dudes in our life.

I saw Sara last year at the Nordic Network on Disability Research (NNDR) Conference in Finland where Sara presented her paper in tweet length sentences. Her mastery of social media was apparent. Catching up outside sessions – in May last year – it was clear things weren’t going well for LB and that the unit was operating in a way that devalued her and their families’ contribution to LBs life. Little did we know then what was to follow.

Screenshot 2014-05-07 21.33.45 Justice for LB seminar 7 May 2014

In his presentation today Chris Hatton talked about the sparkly spiral of shame where us academics merit fourth place after providers, commissioners and regulators. He highlighted the way in which our lives remain as disconnected from the realities of many people with learning disabilities lives and that we (as a group) are just as craven in the face of (illusory?) access to influence and funding. This is true, all academics working in disability studies or elsewhere with disabled people do need frequent cold hard looks in the mirror. We need to remember why we do what we do. For me, and for many of my colleagues – LB Buses postcards have provoked lots of conversations and many offices in the department are resplendent with a buses or colours postcard. It is what – in the words of another disability studies colleagues – ‘keeps us right’.