Lord Morris of Manchester Memorial

Lord Morris of Manchester Memorial

Alf Morris was born in Manchester in 1928 and was brought up in Ancoats and Newton Heath. He was the Labour MP for Wythenshawe between 1964 and 1997. In 1970 he successfully introduced the Chronically Sick and Disabled Persons Act, a ground-breaking piece of legislation which was the first in the world to recognise the rights of disabled people and set down specific requirements for access and support. In 1974 he became the world’s first Minster for Disabled People and introduced a Civil Rights (Disabled Persons) Bill in 1991. He also went on to establish the Motability scheme which transformed the lives of so many people. In 1997, Alf was elevated to the peerage as the Baron Morris of Manchester. He continued to scrutinise the government and campaign for the rights of disabled people in the House of Lords. The Victoria University of Manchester conferred an honorary doctorate degree on Alf in 1998. He died on 12th August 2012. Alf’s life and achievements are described at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alf_Morris and http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-manchester-19253539.

Manchester Trades Union Council, the North West TUC Disability Forum, Manchester City Council, Mike Kane MP (Labour, Wythenshawe & Sale East) and the family of the late Lord Morris of Manchester are working together to establish a permanent memorial in Manchester to commemorate his pioneering role in disability rights legislation and support.

The North West TUC Disability Forum and Manchester Trades Council invited all interested Trade Union reps and representatives of disability groups to a meeting to discuss how to work together to establish a memorial in Manchester in recognition of the work of Alf Morris and to decide what type of memorial would be most fitting. The first meeting was held on 25th September 2014, at the Mechanics Institute on Princess Street.

As Co-Chairs of The University of Manchester’s Disabled Staff Network, Hamied Haroon and Melanie Sharpe decided that our University should play a part in the memorial to this great Manchester politician, and attended this meeting. They were expecting the plans to involve a statue of Alf Morris to be installed somewhere in Manchester, but it was quite the opposite! The suggestions discussed were actually of long-term practical projects that would highlight Alf’s legacy of putting disability issues, rights and equality at the centre of politics and policy making, and how he set an example in Manchester for the rest of the world to follow!

Rosie Dammers, Wellbeing Officer at the University of Manchester Students’ Union, was keen that the Students’ Union should also play its part in the memorial and joined Hamied and Melanie at the second meeting on 20th January 2015.

The Alf Morris Manchester Memorial Steering Group suggested that the University would be responsible for two initiatives:

  1. Host a high-profile and prestigious Annual Event in memory of Alf Morris, on the subject of disability equality and politics.
  2. Provide support (financial etc) and recognition each year for a deserving and talented student from the Greater Manchester area or North West region who aspired to study politics, focussing on disability, at our University (probably at postgraduate level) and potentially follow a career in politics.

The Group suggested that the Students’ Union would be responsible for a student-focussed project:

  1. Run a competition for University students, particularly those studying arts, to come up with the best design for a prominent stained glass window in the Mechanics Institute to commemorate Alf Morris.

Subsequent meetings of the Group were held on 19th March, 10th July and 21st September 2015 and 15th January 2016. Lucy Hallam took over from Rosie Dammers in July 2015.

In separate communications with the University’s Disabled Staff Network, the National Association of Disabled Staff Networks, the Equality and Human Rights Commission and the Disabled Living Foundation have offered their support for the Alf Morris Memorial initiatives at the University.

Recent Posts

NADSN Black Lives Matter Statement

The tragic killing of George Floyd and others in the USA[1] along with the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement serves to remind us that there are continued inequalities and fundamental differences that exist within our society.  Differences which are not acceptable.

The National Association of Disabled Staff Networks (NADSN) stands in solidarity with the BLM movement in speaking out against racial injustices and inequalities faced by our communities in the UK and beyond[2].

The pandemic has served to highlight further racial disparities in the UK. Death rates from COVID-19 were higher for Black and Asian ethnic groups when compared to White ethnic groups. This disproportionate impact is multiplied for Disabled Black and Asian people. The Public Health England Report found that structural racism plays a part.

“Together We Can – and Will – Transform”.[3]

Our purpose as a super-network remains vital.  As members, we seek to inspire support and success.  As a community, we share our opinions, values, culture and best practice and deepen our understanding of each other, our world and how we can have a positive impact. At this challenging time, we urge all our members to look out for each other and empower one another. When we work in collaboration, we can achieve great change.

Ableism Has Much in Common with Racism.

We understand that ableism and racism are not equivalent.  However, the experiences of ethnic minorities and Disabled people have some similarities. Disabled people regularly face systemic and institutional discrimination within society, education, work, and healthcare settings. We have been pitied, abused, excluded, stereotyped and met with disdain and platitudes. Disabled people have been underrepresented and misrepresented in entertainment and media. Our narratives and achievements have been appropriated and used as inspiration for non-disabled people. These forms of barriers are compounded for Disabled people from ethnic minority backgrounds, particularly those of us with a mental health condition or those of us who are neurodiverse.

Our Work.

Throughout our work, we strive to embed an intersectional understanding and approach. In 2019, we co-hosted a National Intersectionality Conference with the LGBT+ Network of Networks in Higher Education. We also appointed an Intersectionality Lead and two Intersectionality Partners onto our diverse Steering Committee. We will continue to work to better understand the inequalities and barriers Disabled people from ethnic minorities face and work to challenge and combat these. We will continue to work in partnership to support all members of our community, as well as seeking to set an example for others.

We strive to be a part of the solution.


[1] The wave of protests in the USA over the killing of George Floyd are the outbursts of anger and injustice that have erupted after the deaths of many other black Americans whilst in police custody. Data: US ‘Mapping Police Violence’ – https://mappingpoliceviolence.org/ and in the UK since 1990, 184 people from ethnic minorities have died as a result of police actions (20 due to police shootings and 164 in custody).  https://www.inquest.org.uk/bame-deaths-in-police-custody

[2]Many of the Black people killed by police are disabled. Inquest notes that ethnic minorities were twice as likely to die after restraint or use of force, and twice as likely to die if they had a mental health condition. https://rudermanfoundation.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/08/MediaStudy-PoliceDisability_final-final.pdf

[3] Slogan: “Together we can – and will – transform” – https://blacklivesmatter.com/


This paper is also available as a Word docx and PDF.


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