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.
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
01904 325778 (leave a message)
Current Projects - June 2020
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.
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.
Two Rivers Radio
York Design Week
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 various zoom workshops discussing different topics (see below). We hope to have a secondary project which will invite a creative response to what was discussed – so a combination of focus groups and an art project really, but that depends on interest!
The topics we have chosen to focus on so far are:
- ‘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
Completed Work 2020
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 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
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
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
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.