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Silenced: The Hidden Story of Disability in Britain (2021)

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Cerrie Burnell presents a history of disabled people's struggle for human rights in Britain. She also shares inspiring stories of pioneering campaigners for social change, and looks at the challenges still to be faced in the future.

For more than a century, one group of people in Britain has been shut out of society, denied basic human rights and treated with fear and prejudice.

Now, in this shocking, moving film, writer, actor and presenter Cerrie Burnell is going to uncover the hidden story of how disabled people fought back – and won their freedom.

Cerrie was born without the lower part of her right arm. As a presenter on CBeebies, Cerrie was astonished to learn that some viewers thought her appearance would scare watching children. Now, she wants to find out where these attitudes to disabled people come from and why they persist today.

She discovers how our modern attitudes to disabled people were first formed in the workhouses of Victorian Britain, uncovers the original records of an institution created to segregate disabled people and stop them having children, and traces the hidden lives of those confined to institutions for their whole lives.

Cerrie hears astonishing stories of heartbreak and cruelty. But she also meets some pioneers who changed the lives of disabled people forever. John Evans was one of the very first to move from a residential home into a one of his own, and Alia Hassan brought the streets of London to a standstill as part of a campaign fighting for disabled people to be allowed to get on a bus.

Ultimately Cerrie discovers that although much has changed for disabled people in Britain today, the battle is not yet won.

Silenced is a story of huge social change that many of us still don’t know about, told through the hidden lives of disabled people.