Screen Reader Version

Manchester Histories DigiFest 2020.

Celebrating Alf’s Act.

50 Years of Disabled People’s Rights.

Festival themes are Celebrate, Learn, Challenge.

Manchester Histories DigiFest will take place online on Friday 4th September 6pm to 7.30pm and Saturday 5th September 12pm to 6pm.

You can join the broadcast using this link on Friday 4th September from 6pm and again on Saturday 5th September from 12pm for the duration of the broadcast. The link is only live whilst the broadcast is taking place, so it will not work at any other times outside the broadcast.

If you have any questions about how to join the broadcast, please text or call Janine on 07890 863176 between 10am and 5pm Monday to Friday.


Welcome everyone to Manchester Histories’ first ever DigiFest 2020, a unique digital festival where we mark the 50th anniversary of Chronically Sick and Disabled Persons Acts, known as Alf's Act because of the man who brought it about, Alf Morris.

Due to Covid-19 it’s been quite a journey, having to cancel the first festival in June, then developing DigiFest 2020 as our creative solution to ensure we continued to mark this important year.

Since 2019, an incredible task group and a wider steering group made up of disabled and non-disabled people have been working together to bring you this exciting programme.

One that explores the legacy of Alf’s Act, celebrates talent and creativity, and prompts conversations and discussion around societal challenges disabled people face in their everyday lives.

DigiFest 2020 also features a topical mix of content sent in by the public as part of the ‘open call’. We were delighted to have received over 70 submissions, all on offer for you to experience, take part in and enjoy.

It's vital to look back at our histories, those that we're proud of, but also those that make us uncomfortable, to reflect and take stock, but to also look to the future to activate change. We hope DigiFest 2020 will provide the opportunity to do this, as we keep on fighting for equality for all.

The DigiFest 2020 Team

A bit about Alf Morris.

Alf Morris was born and bred in Manchester and served as a member of parliament for Wythenshawe from 1964 to 1997.

Alf successfully brought in the Chronically Sick and Disabled Persons Act in 1970, a ground-breaking piece of legislation to recognise the rights of disabled people. In 1974, Alf became the first minister for disabled people anywhere in the world.

Alf was born into a working class family in Ancoats, Manchester, and raised as one of eight children in quite poor circumstances. 

He witnessed the struggles of disabled people first-hand in his own family, and throughout his lifetime campaigned tirelessly for the rights of disabled people to challenge the barriers that disabled people faced in everyday life. 

Alf’s most celebrated quote is this: 

“If we could bequeath one precious gift to posterity, I would choose a society in which there is genuine compassion for long-term sick and disabled people; where understanding is unostentatious and sincere; where needs come before means; where if years cannot be added to their lives, at least life can be added to their years.” 

We dedicate DigiFest 2020 to Alf Morris, his family and friends, and to the Act that made such a difference to the lives of disabled people across the UK and beyond.

Hosted by Jackie Hagan.

Multi award-winning artist Jackie Hagan will host the first ever DigitFest 2020. Jackie will lead us through all the exceptional digital content on offer, chat to our studio guests and have a banter with you as the show goes live across the globe! 

Jackie is passionate about class, sexuality, disability and accessibility.  She recently starred in and wrote an episode of Crip Tales for BBC Four and BBC America and has been nominated for a National Diversity Award and a Woman of the World Award for effecting lasting social change.

George Parker-Conway.

George Parker-Conway is a Manchester based artist, he holds a Foundation Degree in Illustration from Stockport College. George has worked alongside Manchester design studio Imagine in collaboration with the wonderful Venture Arts to produce the branding and identity for DigiFest 2020.

George says: “I have found doing the work experience very enjoyable and satisfying and have been pleased to have worked on the project, and it has given me a sense of how to work on a live brief.”

Taking Part In The DigiFest.

Everything in the DigiFest is free of charge and there is no limit to the number of places, but it is helpful if you can let us know you would like to join the broadcast.  Please text or call Janine on 07890 863176 between 10am and 5pm Monday to Friday if you have any questions about any of the activities or the DigiFest itself, or to let us know you want to join the broadcast.

Alternatively, you can let us you will be joining the Digifest by: 

Registering for Friday 4th September 6.00pm – 7.30pm here.

Registering for Saturday 5th September from 12 noon onwards here.

Registering for the online gallery here

Registering for the In-depth here

Listings – please note that as this is a live broadcast, some of the timings are may alter slightly on the day.

Live: Friday 4th September.

3.30pm - 5.00pm 

Result CIC Workshop – What is Your Place in History?

Sign up to this thought provoking, interactive workshop and get yourself into the spirit of DigiFest 2020! This 90-minute Zoom session will offer some personal insights, with an invitation to consider your own stories. 

Limited places, book here to take part in the Result CIC Workshop:

Opening night happening from 6.00pm – 7.30pm.

It’s time to ‘go live’ with Jackie Hagan as she takes us on a two-day adventure of digital content and more!

Online listings for Friday 4 September:


Welcome to DigiFest 2020.

Multi award-winning artist Jackie Hagan opens the first ever M­anchester Histories DigiFest 2020. Celebrating Alf's Act & 50 Years of Disabled People's Rights.

Live Captioned. BSL.


Councillor Luthfur Rahman

Councillor Luthfur Rahman, Executive Member for Skills, Culture &­­­ Leisure, Manchester City Council welcomes in our online audiences from across the globe.

Live Captioned. BSL.


Mat Fraser.

Rock musician, actor, writer and performance artist, Mat Fraser welcomes us to DigiFest 2020, he talks about how young people are our future and how the rights of disabled people are being dismantled.



The Mayor of Greater Manchester.

Andy Burnham presents a short speech. 

Live Captioned. BSL.


Interview time: Gill Morris

Gill Morris, daughter of Lord Alf Morris and Jules Hussey from Brazen Productions talk through Alf's life and the making of the three documentaries made in his honour.

Live Captioned. BSL.


Alf – The Man. Chapter 1.

A short documentary welcoming us into the Morris family and their memories of the husband, dad, grandad and politician who became the world’s first disability minister.



Liz Sayce.

Liz Sayce OBE, Visiting Senior Fellow at the London School of Economics and former CEO of Disability Rights UK explains the impact legislation and campaigns have had on disabled people’s lives over the last 50 years. 



Interview time: Alicia Dillon. 

Brilliant young actor Alicia Dillon talks to Jackie about living with chronic illness, and how Miranda Hart inspired her to make the short film ‘From me, to me, one year on’.

Live Captioned. BSL.


The impact of Covid-19.

Sally Hirst tells us about what she's been up to in lockdown in the first of our mobile phone series. Expect chickens! Visit DigiFest 2020 online gallery for Sally's artwork.



What's on tomorrow.

A sneak preview on what you can see played out on Saturday's DigiFest 2020.



Interview time: Weasels Weasels Weasels! 

Dominic Bennett lets us into his creative world of making his weasel army, followed by his short film. For more Venture Arts artwork, visit the DigiFest 2020 online gallery.

Live Captioned. BSL.


Lucy Hale.

Composer Lucy Hale introduces her commission of music, made especially for DigiFest 2020 in collaboration with Drake Music & Manchester Histories. 



Music: Georgina Aasgaard.

Cellist Georgina Aasgaard plays the work of  Lucy Hale live from the studio. 

Live Caption of Transcript.


End Of Broadcast.

See you tomorrow!

Live Captioned. BSL.

Live: Saturday 5th September.

Online listings for Saturday 5th September:


Welcome to DigiFest 2020.

Jackie Hagan is back to open the Saturday live broadcast.

Live Captioned. BSL.


Interview time: Bob Niven.

We chat to Bob Niven, former Chief Executive of the Disability Rights Commission.

Live Captioned. BSL.


Alf – The Act. Chapter 2.

A documentary summarising Alf Morris’ groundbreaking Act, with voices from those whose lives it has changed.

Subtitled. Audio Described.


Speech – Tom Shakespeare.

Sociologist and broadcaster Tom Shakespeare presents his views on the impact of Covid-19 on society.



James Holt.

Musician James Holt introduces and plays his commission of music, made especially for DigiFest 2020 in collaboration with Drake Music and Manchester Histories. 



Alicia Dillon.

We play the full version of Alicia Dillon's film, ‘From me, to me, one year on’. 



The impact of Covid-19.

Our second series of mobile phone content about being in lockdown. Corona & Love by actor Racheal Tse & Liam's story from Venture Arts.




Short film of the making of artist Barry Anthony Finan's temporary installation for British Ceramics Biennial, AWARD 2019.



Interview Time: Janet Charlesworth.

Artist Janet Charlesworth of Proud and Loud Arts talks to Jackie about performance ‘Article 19 - UNCRPD’ which you can watch on ‘In-depth’.

Live Captioned.


Proud Magpie.

Short talk on disability shame and mental health by writer Rachel Cox, also see her blog of creative writing in In-depth.



The impact of Covid - 19.

Another in our series of mobile phone content about being in lockdown. Farwah from Pure Innovations, find out more about Pure after the break.


Time Out.

Break – have a cup of tea time.

Quiet time.


Interview Time: People's History Museum (PHM).

PHM talks about plans for exhibitions, activities and partnerships in the pipeline for 2021/22.


Pure Innovation.

Artist Sarah Bradbury introduces ‘Change the Conversation, Change the Outcome’ at People’s History Museum.



Pure Innovation.

Artist Sarah Bradbury – Introducing Museum at Night.



Pure Innovation.

Gloria Gator – James Kingsford animation.



Pure Innovation.

Short film about Pure Innovation and Manchester Museum’s Heirlooms project - artwork on DigiFest 2020 online gallery.



Interview Time: Professor Melanie Tebbutt.

Jackie talks to Professor Melanie Tebbutt, from Manchester Metropolitan University, about the ‘Returning Home’ project, which tells the stories of ‘delicate children’ from Manchester and Salford who spent time in Switzerland to improve their health in 1948.

Live Captioned. BSL.

Time Out.

Break – have a cup of tea time.

Quiet time.


DigiFest 2020 The Big Debate.

A one hour panel debate of topical issues facing disabled people, chaired by Victoria Macdonald, Health and Social Care Editor at Channel 4 News. The debate will be followed by a Q&A session, your chance to have your say.

Live Captioned. BSL.

Time Out.

Break – have a cup of tea time.

Quiet time.


Andy Wild.

Artist Andy Wild tells of his personal journey of recovery and art following a brain tumour diagnosis. Artwork on DigiFest 2020 online gallery.



Jessica Fay.

14-year old Jessica talks about invisible disabilities and childhood.



The impact of Covid-19.

Artists from Venture Arts - Amber and Amy share their mobile phone content about being in Covid lockdown.



Interview Time: Sue Cauldwell.

Sue Cauldwell from DIY Theatre talks to Jackie about the challenges of converting the live performance of ‘‘Following Patient 36'’ to a digital platform, showcasing filmed performances.

Live Captioned. Subtitled.


Manchester People First.

‘What's Stopping Ya?’ short film about summer workshops on barriers to attending and accessing medical appointments.



Interview Time: Katherine Conroy.

Jackie discusses access to sport with Katherine Conroy, Ambassador for 5K Your Way and Transplant Sport and regular South Manchester Parkrun participant.



The impact of Covid-19.

Artists from Venture Arts - Bilal and Louise share their mobile phone content about being in Covid lockdown.



Speech – Martin Pagel.

Founding member of GMCDP / former Co-Deputy Leader of Manchester City Council.



Interview Time: Saba Salman.

Award-winning writer Saba Salman talks about her groundbreaking book ‘Made Possible’, a collection of essays on success by people with learning disabilities, influenced by her learning disabled sister.

Time Out.

Break – have a cup of tea time.

Quiet time.


The Deaf Camera South Africa Project.

Joyful and emotional visit to a Deaf Lifeworlds exhibition by South African children and young people from V.N. Naik and Fulton Schools.

Live Captioned. South African Sign Language.


Sign Language and Science.

Jackie introduces Dr Audrey Cameron's talk on using sign language to unlock science education for Deaf children over on In Depth. See also Tedx Talk on 'In-depth'. 

Live Captioned.


Zanna Jane.

Fashion Design Graduate of Central St Martins, shows her, filmed at home in a field with family  members in response to Covid restrictions. Her inspiration: a deaf person in a hearing world.



Interview Time: Louise Stern.

Jackie chats to American writer and artist Louise Stern, who works around ideas of language, communication and isolation and introduces her short film Signs.

Live Captioned. BSL.



Short Film Signs.



Alf – The Legacy. Chapter 3

50 years on from Alf’s Act, where are we now and how far do we still have to go?

Subtitled. Audio Described


Lived Experience.

Excerpt from Paul Mittler's experience of growing up as a disabled person and views on the future over on ‘In-depth’.



Lived Experience

PHD student Phillipa Vincent-Connolly talks about her lived experience of growing up as a disabled person.


4.41 pm.

Lived Experience.

Artist Charlotte Peters Rock introduces ‘If We All Stand Together’ featuring her grandson who has autism and complex learning difficulties, full piece by Charlotte on ‘In-depth’.

Live Captioned. BSL.


Interview Time: Dominic Tinner.

The Seashell Trust’s Head of Fundraising, Dominic Tinner, talks about Alf Morris’ connection and impact on the charity, its near 200 year history and plans for the future.

Live Captioned. BSL.

Time Out.

Break – have a cup of tea time.

Quiet time.


GMCDP Discussion.

Rick Burgess leads a discussion with members of the Greater Manchester Coalition of Disabled People.

Live Captioned. BSL.


Ollie Hyland.

Ollie Hyland introduces his commission of music, made especially for DigiFest 2020 in collaboration with Drake Music & Manchester Histories. 



Grand Finale.

In the grand finale the fabulous Bee Vocal Choir have recorded a short video telling us all about their amazing work and sing us out with two wonderful songs! 


In-depth: Saturday 5th September.

Links to access the In-depth content will be live from 10.00am on Saturday 5th September.

The day starts with your chance to take part in a workshop or browse a variety of digital content that explores stories, views and the histories of disabled people.

You choose what you want to explore and when.

Online listings:

All In-depth content is subtitled where possible.

I've Got Friends.

Access Venture Arts Short Film here – Frances Heap.  


Access Venture Arts Short Film by Frances Heap here. 

Liberating Isolating.

Access Venture Arts Short Film by James Dresser here

Access Hobgoblin Limbo, Venture Arts Short Film by John Powell Jones here.  

DAN - Disabled People’s Direct Action Network.

Dennis Queen chats to fellow Danners about their history, activities and future aims.  Access the film here.

Pure Radio.

Pure Radio interviews members about the impact of Covid-19, featuring Ruth's wonderful singing. Access the film here.

Germination (Extract) Transmission.

Laura Grace Simpkin’s evocative recording of an extract of a personal essay detailing months spent at home in and out of hypomania.  Access the film here.


Peter Marshall and Shabaaz interview Boston based Dara Baldwin Director of National Policy for the Center for Disability Rights.  Access the interview here


A film outlining a history of Greater Manchester Coalition of Disabled People and The Disabled Persons Movement.  Access the film here.

It's Been Carnage.

Dennis Queen's response to the impact of Covid-19 on the disabled community.  Access the film here.

Paul Mittler.

Paul talks about his education growing up as a disabled young person in 1970s and thoughts on the future.  Access the film here.

Deaf and Dementia.

Talk by Dr Emma Ferguson-Coleman, Research Fellow at University of Manchester.  Access the talk here.

Disability and The Tudors.

Talk by Phillipa Vincent-Connolly, PHD student at Manchester Metropolitan University.  Access the talk here.

Making Trails and Barrier Breakers.

Digital theatre performance by young people from Oldham Theatre workshop.  Access the performance here.

Article 19 – UNCRPD – Proud and Loud Arts.

Explore artist Janet Charlesworth's full performance here.  For more information about Article 19 – UNCRPD and how to access please visit the website

Meet the Blind Woodturner – Henshaws.

Chris lost his sight in 2008 aged 44 and has become the only sponsored professional blind woodturner in the country.  Access the film here.

Proud Magpie.

Writer Rachel Cox talks about disability shame and mental health, explore her creative writing on her blog.

Scottish Sensory Centre.

Gary Quinn from Heriot-Watt University describes the work of the BSL Glossary Project, developing new science terminology.  Access the talk here.

Paul Mittler.

Paul talks about his education growing up as a disabled young person in 1970s and thoughts on the future.

Charlotte Peters Rock.

'If We All Stand Together' creative piece featuring Charlotte's grandson who has autism and complex learning difficulties.

DIY Theatre Company.

Following Patient 36 is DIY’s performance piece exploring Learning Disability History and the resilience of people with learning disabilities in Salford and Greater Manchester.

Dominic's Weasel Army.

How to make a weasel - instruction tutorial.

Deaf Lifeworlds:  V.N. Naik and Fulton Schools.

Joyful and emotional film of South African deaf children and young people visiting a photographic exhibition.

Three Films about Alf Morris - audio described versions followed by the films.  Alf - The Man, Alf - The Act and Alf - The Legacy.

Louise Stern

American writer and artist Louise Stern, who works around ideas of language, communication and isolation presents her project 'Signs' that explores translating the deaf self. 

Workshop – Disability Pride.

Take part in the Disability Pride Workshop hosted by Breakthrough UK via Zoom. 10.00am - 11.00 am.

Book here to take part in the Workshop.

Places are limited.

This content will remain online after DigiFest 2020.


Take a tour of the DigiFest 2020 online gallery, where you can see a splendid array of artists and

arts and cultural organisations work  and discover the story of Joseph Howarth from Oldham.

Happening online all day and after!

Visit the gallery content here

Pool Arts.

Furiously Mad.

The Exhibition explores 300 Years of Legal Insanity and reveals the legislative history relating to the treatment of people described as "Furiously Mad" in a legal document in 1714 - through to the more recent treatment of the mentally ill.

Venture Arts.

Conversation Series II: Other Transmissions:.

Conversations with Outsider Art. Is the category 'Outsider Art' liberating or isolating? Venture Arts artists explore the question using Musgrave Kinley Outsider Art Collection at Whitworth Art Gallery as reference. Also showcasing other artists' work.

Gallery Oldham.

Joseph Howarth - A Landmark Life.

Joseph Howarth was born into a working-class Oldham family in 1786. He was blind from birth and became such a popular and notable character in the town that when he died a statue was erected in his honour. He served as the Oldham town crier for 40 years – a fixed and familiar point in a rapidly changing town.

Pure Innovation.

Heirlooms at Manchester Museum.

Artists from Pure Arts Studio visited Manchester Museum for three creative workshops with the theme of heirlooms to tie in with the Heritage Futures exhibition. The artists explored the Museum and drew Museum objects from the past.


How I See My World.

Joan, aged 69, has macular degeneration and the condition Charles Bonnet Syndrome (CBS), which can cause hallucinations. Joan began sketching her visions, presented in this exhibition.

John Rylands Library.

The 66 Club, Goulden Collection.

Archives of The 66 Club for young deaf adults founded in April 1966. Its primary purpose was to be a club for the deaf community who were aged under 35 years.


Inspiring Minds.

Using the arts and horticulture as a vehicle, START helps remove the stigma around mental ill health by fostering a common interest amongst individuals from all walks of life. Artists' work showcase.

Andy Wild.

The Patient Experience.

Andy Wild has a brain tumour and epilepsy. In living with his illness he expresses the empowerment he gains through his art, exhibited at Waterside Arts Centre.

Louise Stern.


American writer and artist Louise Stern, who works around ideas of language, communication and isolation presents her project 'Signs' that explores translating the deaf self.  Photographs.

Visit the gallery content here

Access information.

We are aware that people will come to DigiFest 2020 with a range of access requirements. Our programme guide will tell you about the different access features of each item through the symbols next to the titles in the programme (see below for symbol list).

All online content will be subtitled and all live content will have live captions and also have BSL (British Sign Language) interpretation. Audio description is also included in featured work only where the visual content is not clear from the spoken language commentary. 

If you use software to magnify online content or screen readers for any written text, our online format will work with these. 

If any of the programme content items are particularly noisy, busy or include flashing images our host will let you know. We have also included in the programme times that are calm and quiet for anyone needing ‘time out’ or who would just appreciate something relaxing.

Symbols used in listings.

A list of the symbols we are using, and their meanings are below:

S = Subtitles.

BSL = British Sign Language.

LC = Live Captioned.

AD = Audio Described.

SASL = South African Sign Language.

LCOT = Live Caption of Transcript.

Q = Quiet Time.

Social Media.

Twitter: @mcrhistfest

Facebook: @manchesterhistories

Instagram: @manchesterhistories

Hashtag: #mcrhistDigiFest2020



Thanks to everyone who has contributed to DigiFest 2020, especially to all the people who sent in their content via the open call, and to those who have kindly donated to the Crowd Funder. 

Enormous thanks to all funders and partners:

Manchester Histories.

The University of Manchester.

Manchester Metropolitan University.

Manchester City Council.

Greater Manchester Combined Authority.

Heritage Lottery Fund.

Historic England.

Wellcome Trust.

The Granada Foundation.

Sir Robert McAlpine.

Trades Union Congress.

Greater Manchester Coalition of Disabled People.

Creative Manchester.

Drake Music.

Venture Arts.

Every effort has been made to ensure that the information contained in this programme is correct. We apologise for any errors or omissions that may have occurred.

End of text.

We use cookies to help us provide you with a better service, but do not track anything that can be used to personally identify you. If you prefer us not to set these cookies, please visit our Cookie Settings page or continue browsing our site to accept them. Close