Working with Halow – Building Futures Group (BFG)

The Halow group is dedicated to creating opportunities and supporting young people aged 16-35 with a learning disability to:

  • live independent, meaningful, fulfilled lives
  • become more involved in their local community

Halow group looking at Poor Law and Mental Health records at the Surrey History Centre

Surrey Heritage has been working with the Halow Group since 2014.
To begin with we had a behind the scenes tour of the Surrey History Centre to discover why we keep documents and how we look after items.
On the second visit the BFG wanted to explore what it was like to be homeless now and in the past. We looked at a range of documents together including Poor Law records, drawings of workhouses and vagrancy passes.

Halow group looking at Poor Law and Mental Health records at the Surrey History Centre

For the third visit the BFG explored issues around mental health and once again wanted to compare this with information about mental health in the past. No introductions were needed on this visit, members of the group marched straight to the lockers to get ready for the research to begin. We looked at case books, photographs of Netherne and Brookwood hospital and had a long chat about what mental health is and how people were helped in the past and how they are helped today.
Each visit has been really fun and interesting. The BFG group have also learnt how to get to Surrey History Centre by public transport and are also writing about their visit in their comic which has now been added to the archive collection (reference number 7524).

In late 2015 we looked at the history of Guildford using old maps and photographs. We then used the maps to do a ‘then and now’ walking tour looking at changes in Guildford throughout the last 100 years.

In 2016 Halow looked at Guildford’s connection with Alice and Wonderland with a walking history tour of Lewis Carroll in partnership with Guildford Museum.

2017 has led to the Halow group discovering the life of James Pullen an amazing artist and model maker who was a patient at Royal Earlswood Hospital from the 1850 – 1868. We have his drawing and hospital records in our collections at the Surrey History Centre. To find out more about James Pullen, click here.

The introductory session and the Guildford walking tour now form part of the yearly Halow syllabus.

To find out more about the history of Disability and Mental Health in Surrey click here.