Research project helps to Change Minds
A project studying the lives of people in a 19th century Norfolk asylum has provided county residents with a fascinating insight into local heritage, mental health and identity.
Change Minds is a two-year project working with people in north Norfolk who are living with mental health conditions and on low incomes. It is a partnership between Norfolk Record Office, the Restoration Trust, and Together, a national mental health charity.
Two groups of participants have been researching casebooks from the Norfolk County Asylum in Thorpe, which later became St Andrew’s Hospital until its closure in the 1990s.
Each participant chose one person and then learnt how to research them, using archives at the Norfolk Record Office and online census records in Norfolk libraries to track them and learn about their lives through visits to Gressenhall Museum and Norwich Castle Study Centre. They then explored history through creative workshops in Overstrand, writing poetry and producing art works, before learning from The Norfolk Sound Archive about how to make an oral history.
This autumn, the groups will come together to create exhibitions in north Norfolk, The Forum in Norwich, Norfolk Record Office and online as part of the project finale. They will also attend a reception at the House of Commons.
Georgina had previous experience of researching her family history and her support worker suggested the Change Minds project might be for her.
“She came along with me and although it was daunting at first, people understand and don’t judge me. It has been a really interesting project and has helped to improve my confidence. I’ve made some new friends and hope to continue as a volunteer,” says Georgina who has post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety and depression.
It is hoped further funding will be secured for similar projects elsewhere in Norfolk.
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Pictured above: Change Minds project co-ordinator David Pullin.