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:
- Host a high-profile and prestigious Annual Event in memory of Alf Morris, on the subject of disability equality and politics.
- 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:
- 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.