PST&CE Conference, April 2016: Starting a Conversation…


“Where I’m Coming From/Where I am”

The first conference of the Oral History Society’s  “Psycho-Social Therapies and Care Environments” Special Interest Group, which took place on April 27th, 2016
at the Planned Environment Therapy Trust’s Barns Conference Centre, Church Lane, Toddington, Glos. GL54 5DQ

Pictures from the conference

“Something important has happened over the past two days…”
For participant feedback and observations on the conference, CLICK HERE

In this first conference sponsored by the Oral History Society’s PST&CE Special Interest Group, the emphasis was on establishing a conversation among the wide range of people who are using oral history to explore the history and heritage of ‘care environments’ and/or psycho-social therapies; who use oral history as a tool and/or companion within care and therapeutic practice; or who simply wish to look at the emotional and personal dynamics of oral history interviewing in closer detail. Where are we coming from, what are we doing, what do we share, where do we diverge: What is oral history?
Given the issues raised and the connections made, what is the next piece of work for the Group?

The People: Speakers
The People:The Facilitators and Session Chairs
Participant Feedback and Observations


Programme and Recordings

10:30-10:45 Welcome

10:45-11:15 Howard Mitchell, “Schedules of Reinforcement for the Oral Historian” [Personal reflection]


11: 30-12:15 Facilitated Breakout Groups: Introductions to one another and discussion. Facilitator(s): Jonathan Leach, Tom Harrison, Craig Fees

12:30-13:00 Michelle Winslow [Personal Reflection]

14:00-14:10 Chair/Host: Miranda Quinney, Sharing Stories for Wellbeing

14:10-14:30 Verusca Calabria, ‘Insider Stories from the Asylum: The Role of Social Support and Networks’


14:30-14:50 The Early Pestalozzi Children Project (Will Eiduks and LenClarke)


14:50-15:15 Discussion and Contributions from the floor
B. 14:00-14:10 Chair/Host: David Jones, University of East London
14:10-14:30 Kate Brown, ‘Back to the Future – from practitioner to historian of the Cotswold Community’

14:30-14:50 Tom Harrison, ‘Through the (one-way) Looking Glass: From Clinician to Historian’


Discussion and Contributions from the floor

15:45-16:15 Carolyn Mears [Personal Reflection]


16:15-16:45 Full Group Discussion, facilitated by David Kennard



Howard Mitchell

howardmitchell_pstce2016Howard Mitchell is currently developing oral history initiatives with two organisations, Talking Care Scotland – a charity formed to record the experiences of people who were care experienced as children – and Sporting Memories Network who facilitate inter-generational work based on sport and involving youths and elderly participants in dementia friendly environments.

Howard had an early career in the health service as a learning disability and general nurse and tutor, before taking a degree in Scottish Ethnology at the School of Scottish Studies, University of Edinburgh. Subsequent post graduate research and lecturing in the department were followed by a range of community based oral history projects, Open University consultancies, documentary production and exhibition curation, all with a focus on oral history, film and new technologies.

Chair of the Scottish Oral History Group and Oral History Society Regional Representative, this year marks 30 years of interviewing and recording for him.

Michelle Winslow

michellewinslow_pstce2016A former trained nurse, Michelle gained her PhD in 2001 for her study “War, resettlement, rooting and ageing: An oral history study of Polish émigrés in Britain”. She is now ‘University Teacher in Adult Palliative and End of Life Care’ in the School of Nursing and Midwifery, University of Sheffield, having moved to the school in 2014 from the Academic Unit of Supportive Care, where she worked on numerous end of life studies and carried out research on the impact of oral history in palliative settings. Michelle is also ‘Sheffield Hospitals Charity Oral History Lead’. In 2007 she established an oral history service in the Sheffield Macmillan Unit for Palliative Care, working with people in the unit to create life history recordings as personal and family records and for research. With Macmillan Cancer Support she established five further oral history services in the north of England and Northern Ireland and spent a year on secondment with the charity developing oral history and exploring bereavement support. Michelle supervises a further oral history service at St Luke’s Hospice, Sheffield.

Verusca Calabria

VeruscaVerusca is an oral history and heritage consultant, who is currently pursuing an oral history of the Nottingham psychiatric asylums as part of a PhD research programme at Nottingham Trent University. A Trustee of the Oral History Society, as well as Regional Networker for Nottinghamshire, among her past projects, stretching back over ten years, Verusca has directed the collection and archiving of 2400 oral histories for Antony Gormley’s ‘One and Other’ fourth-plinth participatory project; “Belonging in Brent Oral History Project: capturing the lives of Jews, Irish and West Indians that settled in Brent from 1930s to 1950s”; and “Moroccan Memories Oral History Project” (among others).

The Early Pestalozzi Children Project

pestalozziproject_pstce2016Spearheaded by Will Eiduks and Len Clarke, who were children at the Pestalozzi Children’s Village in East Sussex in the late 1950s and early 1960s, the aim of the Early Pestalozzi Children Project (which is supported by th Heritage Lottery Fund) “is to gather, preserve and relate the story of the children of the Pestalozzi Children’s Village who arrived between 1959 and 1965. The Project aims to recover the European and early Tibetan children’s story, as far as possible, through oral history recordings and other related research, hoping to create a legacy for the former children of ‘the Village’ and for their descendants.” By gathering the Early Pestalozzi Children’s story, the project hopes not only to demonstrate what a remarkable experience it was but also constructively present this information for the benefit of other, relevant research.

Kate Brown

brown_kateKate is a Bowlby Centre trained UKCP-registered attachment-based psychoanalytic psychotherapist who teaches at The Bowlby Centre in London and is a member of the Attachment Journal editorial group, as well as being former chair of the Clinical Forum at The Bowlby Centre. She started her career in therapeutic communities, working with adults with a variety of mental health difficulties, and with adolescents individually and in groups. She has since worked with young
mothers, and in mainstream community psychiatric services with patients’ families, as well as providing time limited therapy with former servicemen who had experienced complex trauma. She is currently using oral history and carrying out PhD research on “The History of the Cotswold Therapeutic Community – psychoanalytic perspectives on love and hate” through the Centre for Psychoanalysis at Middlesex University.

Tom Harrison

harrison_tomAuthor of “Bion, Rickman, Foulkes and the Northfield Experiments: Advancing on a Different Front” published by Jessica Kingsley in 2000, Tom is a consultant psychiatrist with interests in history and complexity theory, who has worked in rehabilitation psychiatry in the UK for the past 30 years. He is currently embarked on a PhD in the History of Medicine at Birmingham University researching the Ingrebourne Centre, a psychotherapeutic community which ran within St. George’s General Hospital in Hornchurch, Essex, from 1957 to 2002.

Carolyn Mears

carolynmears_pstce2016As an educator and parent whose son survived the Columbine High School shootings in 1999, Carolyn conducted research into the impact of the tragedy on parents and families. Her dissertation, ‘Experiences of Columbine Parents: Finding a Way to Tomorrow’, received the Outstanding Qualitative Dissertation of the Year award from the American Educational Research Association in 2005. The book which came from this, “Interviewing for Education and Social Science Research: The Gateway Approach” (Palgrave Macmillan, 2009), introduces her innovative approach to research, using aspects of oral history and insider research to traverse the boundaries of human experience and bring to light matters of concern to education and social science researchers. This narrator-centered method, a by-product of her Columbine study, provides a means for researchers to access the often hidden human responses and perceptions about an event or situation so that others can better understand. It is a way to document life experience as well as to help those who make decisions and write policy become better informed about the true impact of their actions on the individuals involved. In 2013 she joined with parents of children caught up in the Sandy Hook School tragedy to form the Sandy Hook|Columbine Cooperative, a charity ‘dedicated to making a difference for those whose lives are forever changed by traumatic experience.’


Facilitators/Chairs (Session Hosts):

David Jones

David Jones is Head of Psychosocial Studies at the University of East London. He teaches, and is engaged in research on the borderline between issues of mental health and criminality; is principal investigator on an ESRC funded investigation encouraging cross disciplinary perspectives on ‘antisocial personality disorder; university academic lead on the collaborative postgraduate programme ‘Psychosocial Perspectives on working with people with personality disorder’ developed with The Millfields Unit (a Forensic Secure Unit run by East London Hospital Trust), and a member of the Editorial Board of the Journal of Psychosocial Studies. His most recent book, ‘Disordered Personalities and Crime’  was published by Routledge in 2015.

David Kennard

David is a retired Consultant Clinical Psychologist and Group Analyst. His career included Littlemore Hospital in Oxford, Rampton Hospital, and The Retreat in York, where he was Director of the Tuke Centre for Psychotherapy and Counselling. The retired Chair of ISPS (UK), and a pioneering member of the Association of Therapeutic Communities, he was also author of both editions of the influential “Introduction to Therapeutic Communities” (most recently published by Jessica Kingsley), and, with Jan Lees, of the Kennard Lees Audit Checklist (KLAC), the therapeutic community assessment tool on which the Royal College of Psychiatrist’s Community of Communities Standards has been built. Relevant to this conference, he co-edited “Experiences of Mental Health In-patient Care: Narratives from service users, carers and professionals”, which was commended in the Mental Health category of the 2008 BMA Medical Book Competition. He played saxophone with British blues legend Alexis Korner, and is a member of “The Oxford Project: Provision for Psychologically Vulnerable People in Oxford, c. 1950 to the Present.”

Jonathan Leach

Jonathan Leach is lecturer in mental health at the Open University and leader of the Mental Health strand of the BSc Degree in Health and Social Care. He chairs the presentation of module K225 ‘Diverse Perspectives on Mental Health’ and production of a new module K240 ‘Mental Health and Community’. As part of the OU’s collaboration with the BBC, Jonathan has been a nominated academic on: Keeping Britain Alive (BBC TV), Health Check (World Service) and All in the Mind (Radio 4). In a voluntary capacity he is Chair of Tandem, a befriending service in Oxfordshire for people isolated as a result of mental health issues, and before becoming an academic worked in the voluntary mental health sector, and with people with learning disabilities. His most recent book, ‘Improving Mental Health through Social Support: Building Positive and Empowering Relationships‘ was published by Jessica Kingsley in 2014.

Miranda Quinney

Miranda has been working with story for the last ten years. She tells, makes, and performs stories to young and old in a variety of locations – from offices to woodlands, in libraries, theatres and festivals. She is passionate about the importance of saving people’s real life stories, and works with individuals and groups as a biographer and facilitator. Her work with patients, staff and carers in hospices across the UK is a daily reminder of how powerful our stories are. She has developed Sharing Stories for Wellbeing as a way to share the benefits of biographical storytelling. The programme has been evaluated by the University of Northampton’s faculty for Health and Wellbeing, and was a finalist in the 2014 Dementia Care Awards. This year Miranda is collaborating with Hospice UK to promote and deliver a nationwide train-the-trainer programme, with the aim of ensuring that every UK hospice has access to a storyteller with the skills to run sharing stories workshops.