Training to be a Service User

Training to be a Service User | 2004| 15 minutes | b&w | sound | digital video

A filmic work exploring identity and work practice for people with disabilities.

The project was made during the phasing out period of sheltered workshop services across Ireland and Europe provided by the Rehab Group. Sheltered workshops date back to 16th century France and in Ireland had a rapid expansion in the 1950's due to incentives by voluntary organisations to provide vocational training and employment for young people with mental disabilities. Over time the legal status of activity in sheltered workshops became inherently problematic due to an ambiguity in its definition as work or therapy and the legal implications of doing commercial work for a small financial pay or allowance much less than the national minimum wage.

In RehabCare the closure of these workshops was being replaced by programmes with a rehabilitative, developmental and therapeutic focus. For some this created a sense of ‘work’ displacement and for others an opportunity for self-development. A central question pivoted around what the change in identity from 'trainee' to 'service user’ would mean for people working in these workshops for up to thirty years?

Four years after the making of this project in December 2008, sheltered workshops closed in all RehabCare centres in Ireland and Europe.

Project made in collaboration with a group in the General Industrial (GI) sheltered workshop in RehabCare in Hollyhill Cork.

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