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Thought-provoking exhibition on history of mental health in Norfolk

PUBLISHED: 16:02 19 November 2017 | UPDATED: 16:06 19 November 2017

Some of the patients detailed in the case books of Norfolk County Asylum. Photo: Norfolk Records Office

Some of the patients detailed in the case books of Norfolk County Asylum. Photo: Norfolk Records Office

Norfolk Records Office

The lives of people at a Norfolk asylum in the 19th century are on show this week at a thought-provoking exhibition.

St Andrew's Hospital, formely known as Norfolk County Asylum, in Thorpe St Andrew, pictured in 1969. Photo: Archant Library St Andrew's Hospital, formely known as Norfolk County Asylum, in Thorpe St Andrew, pictured in 1969. Photo: Archant Library

Put together from research from residents in north Norfolk with mental health conditions, the Change Minds interactive display launches on Monday, November 20, at The Forum in Norwich.

The free exhibition runs until Thursday, November 23, and includes visual displays; a digital walk through of the former Norfolk County Asylum in Thorpe St Andrew, Norwich; a listening post featuring oral history clips; and an activity area so visitors can do their own research.

It is a culmination of a two-year project involving 20 people who studied the life of one person at the asylum through Norfolk Record Office archives, online census records and museum visits.

One participant, Georgina, said: “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.”

Norfolk County Coucil member Margaret Dewsbury. Pic: Norfolk Conservatives. Norfolk County Coucil member Margaret Dewsbury. Pic: Norfolk Conservatives.

As well as personal research, the Change Minds project volunteers took part in creative workshops and group activities as well as learning how to make an oral history exhibition.

Change Minds is run by the Restoration Trust, in conjunction with Norfolk Record Office and Together in North Norfolk and funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund.

The exhibition will be opened by former Norwich City FC player Cedric Anselin, who is a champion of mental health support in Norfolk after suffering with depression.

Together support worker Lindsey Ashfield said: “Participating in Change Minds has made an amazing difference to the people I support. I have seen their confidence and self-esteem grow, their network of friends increase and their hope in their futures renewed and revitalised.”

Former Norwich City footballer Cedric Anselin. Photo: NSFT Former Norwich City footballer Cedric Anselin. Photo: NSFT

Margaret Dewsbury, chairman of the Norfolk County Council communities committee, said: “Participants have had an enjoyable and interesting experience, formed friendships and developed their skills in archive research in a welcoming environment. I would encourage people to come along to The Forum and view the findings for themselves.”

For more information visit www.changeminds.org.uk

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