Community Voices

What is Community Voices?

Community Voices is a project currently funded by City of York Council, the York Independent Living Network and the York Multiple Complex Needs Network. It is based at the Centre for Applied Human Rights in the University of York. 

Disability rights are the focus for 2021. The aims are to reach out to the marginalised, hidden and ignored voices in the disabled community in York, identify their priorities and needs and support them to advocate for their rights. 

We are also supporting the development of York Disability Rights Forum as a local disabled people’s organisation upholding disabled people’s human rights. 

Community Voices York

Who am I?

My name is Hilary Conroy and I’m the coordinator of the Community Voices project at YHRCN. I love connecting people and providing support and opportunities to get involved in a wide range of projects across the city and beyond. I am a human rights activist and I feel strongly that people should be able to hold power to account, whether that is local government, health and social services, police and criminal justice services, or businesses and organisations. Please get in touch and get involved in the projects below! 

How to get in touch

Social media: 



01904 325778 (leave a message)

Community Voices
Centre for Applied Human Rights
6 Innovation Close, University of York,
Heslington, York
YO10 5ZF

Current Projects - September 2021

Community Voices

Community Voices York

I’m still keen to chat to anyone who identifies as disabled, chronically ill, neurodivergent (autism, ADHD, dyslexia etc), d/Deaf or hard of hearing, visually impaired, or mentally unwell about their experiences and what they would like to change in York. You do not need to have a diagnosis to get in touch. 

We have a social group which meets fortnightly on zoom and we have a private Slack workspace so the group can communicate easily. 

I also love to hear from parents, carers and allies who have ideas and experiences to share. 

Dear York

Screenshot of Dear York Website. Photo of Wild Garlic flowers with the text: your story is welcome here.
I understand that people often have lots of reasons not to speak out and so our anonymous online space has now launched to provide a safe space for those stories to be told called Dear York

It is a space to express experiences in a way that feels safe to the individual so people are invited to express themselves artistically as well as through language. It is place to call out the humiliation, to explain the struggle, to clarify the emotional toll. It is also very much a space to protest, and I hope that those things being expressed can start conversations in York around how things are being done and how we might do better. 

I am also aware that some people might not be able to contribute online. If you, or someone you know would like to contribute but cannot do so online, get in touch, and we can figure something out.

York Design Week Events

Black and white image of cliffords tower a stone tower on a hill

York Design Week runs from 20-26th October. 

The theme this year is ‘What a Pickle‘!

Thursday 21st October 3pm-4pm
Join us to discuss the question – has access to the city of York improved since medieval times? We will consider examples from history of adaptations and forms of transport with more recent issues concerning disabled access to the city and public attitudes towards disabled people following the Covid pandemic. We combine the historical knowledge of the York Civic Trust with the disability rights work being done by the York Human Rights City Network and we want you to get involved in the discussion!
Pink and blue smoke with a black background

Gender Marathon

Saturday 23rd October 2pm-6pm

York Design Week has partnered up with York LGBT Forum, Community Voices and York Art Gallery to present a gallery of submissions about the pickles we get into when it comes to Gender and Design.

We will be sharing the submissions with you through a 4 hour zoom marathon exhibition using only the chat box to consider each piece in turn (no videos, no mics).

Everyone is welcome to get involved and share how their gender interacts with design in the world and how the world is designed impacts on their gender. We welcome video, audio, written and artistic submissions. Have fun with it!

Please send us your submissions in to us at the following email address;

Deadline for submissions is Thursday 21st October

Curating Covid

Working with the York Museums Trust as part of a wider York project to gather experiences and descriptions of the pandemic from a diverse group of people, from the first lockdown to now.

I am working with a small group of disabled people to host a series of zoom workshops discussing topics which they feel were key to disabled people’s experiences during the pandemic. 

  • ‘How many tins of tomato soup can one human eat?’ – Food, including Boris Boxes, reliance on others and more
  • ‘We don’t know either’ – Student experiences from the University of York and York St John University 
  • ‘Please Don’t Kill Me’ and other things I never thought I’d have to say – DNR notices, facebook comments and ableism in the wild
  • ‘Zoom Positive’ – how going online has made lots of things more accessible than ever, working from home and the joys of record and watch later, and how this is now being eroded!
Each discussion will last an hour and we hope to have a secondary project which will invite a creative response to what was discussed.

Vox Pop Project

"How do you feel as a disabled person living in York right now?" Please answer with 2-3 sentences. We will combine your answers anonymously to create a single recording. The recording will be made available on DearYork.orgWhatsApp message/voicenote: 07942 350 014 Email: Voicemail: 01904 325778 Photo of a purple poppy flower with a green centre with rain droplets on the petals

You are invited to add your voice! 

To bring the human impact back to the fore, Community Voices is running a project asking people to record their answer to the question:
“How do you feel as a disabled person living in York right now?” 
We will make a single recording of the responses and share this widely. There is an option to use text – these submissions will be read by volunteers to be included in the recording. 
WhatsApp message/voice note: 07942 350 014 
Voicemail: 01904 325778

Two Rivers Radio

I’m conducting and recording interviews over zoom to be released through Two Rivers Radio which is a community radio station ‘by York, for York’. Once the station relaunches, I’ll be producing a Disability Hour to raise awareness of disability issues within the city. If anyone would like to be interviewed (topic of your choice) or would like to be involved in the project in any other way, let me know.
A short interview with Bill Clayton (less than 10 mins) was released for ME awareness week.

Completed Work 2021

Deaf Healthcare Forum

Deaf Healthcare Forum invite with picture of silver and blue stethescope

Community Voices and Healthwatch worked together to host an online open forum on 11th October 2021 to give those who are deaf and hard of hearing the chance to discuss their experiences in York with representatives from local healthcare providers.

The event was held on zoom and had BSL interpreters and automatic zoom captioning. 

Disability and Digital Inclusion Drop In

Digital inclusion with wifi logo on a green background showing linked dots. Community Voices Logo and Changing Lives Logo at the bottom

Community Voices and Changing Lives are teaming up to offer a digital inclusion drop in for disabled, chronically ill and neurodivergent people in York. This can cover whatever individual people need in order to get online, keep safe online, brush up on computer skills, do some job searching or work on their CV. The possibilities are endless! 

Changing Lives are providing us with space in their Blossom Street office where there is wheelchair access. We have devices to use if you don’t have your own. 

Tuesday 24th August 10am-2pm

Digital Inclusion Room (York Drug & Alcohol building), 3 Blossom Street, YO24 1AU

Please get in touch if you have any questions…

Phone Kate: 07566 792 433 or email

Instagram Live with Tom
Mental Health in a Pandemic

Mental Health and Disability During the Pandemic: An Instagram Discussion. Blue background shows the outlines of faces in profile in differing shades of blue, light to dark

Tom was eager to follow up the previous Instagram Live with another. This time we were talking about mental health at different points in the pandemic, how we manage anxiety and the unknown, and how things getting back to normal have been more difficult than expected. 

Watch it now on our Instagram – @VoicesYork 

Camerados Public Living Room

As part of the Systems Changers programme with York Multiple Complex Needs Network we conducted an experiment of a Camerados Public Living Room which had comfy sofas, tea and coffee, an art wall, some radical library books and some lovely people. We invited people through the York Press and our social media channels. 

The project was run on 7th and 8th July from 12:30pm-5pm at Spark York with support from the Community Furniture Store and the York Radical Library

The experiment was a great success with people coming from many diverse backgrounds, experiences and lives. As it was indoors, the disabled community felt it was not safe for them to get involved due to the risks from increased cases of Covid in the city. We have decided to carry on having pop-up living rooms, and we are planning the next one outside so that we can ease fears around Covid and hopefully meet more of the disabled community in York. 

Healthy Environments Research
with Imperial College London

NERC logo

I acted as a community host for a piece of research being conducted by Imperial College London for the Natural Environment Research Council. I facilitated two zoom workshops with 9 participants from the Community Voices group to find out what a ‘healthy environment’ meant to them and gain their views on where research funding should be focused.

This was a really positive experience and the participants gave great feedback about it. They felt they had learned a lot about areas of environmental research they had little information about before, and felt they had made a real difference by adding their voices to the project. 

The researchers are currently pulling together the themes from the workshops and will produce a report which will be linked once it is shared. There will also be some dissemination of the information via Twitter with the hashtag #CareForOurSpace

Instagram Live with Tom
Food Shopping in a Pandemic

Invitation to join Instagram live on food shopping in a pandemic

Tom from our social group wanted to learn more about how to design posts and increase his confidence on Instagram. He wanted to talk to people about food shopping during the pandemic, so we recorded an Instagram Live on 25/05/2021 talking about just that! 

The recording is available on our Instagram page @VoicesYork

Staff Autism Space at
University of York

University of York logo

Lisa from our social group got in touch and wanted to create a space to for staff members to discuss, share and celebrate autism. We discussed how zoom is not always the best way for autistic people to engage with others and we considered that people are more likely to engage via text. The University of York have a Slack workspace so myself and Lisa worked together to create a channel dedicated to autism called the staff-autism-space.

Staff can participate in anyway they like; whether it be simply reading through discussions, posting questions or sharing news and experiences. We have had lots of people get involved. Those who are autistic, those going through adult assessments, and parents of autistic children. It has been a great space for people to share experiences, ask for support and sharing key knowledge. 

Previous Years

Hate Crime Report 2019/2020

During 2019/20 we explored people’s  perceptions and understanding of hate crime in York. 

You can download the Community Voices report – 2020 – hate crime

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