Please send me SCA's fortnightly briefing:

< Back to '18th October 2023' briefing

October 17, 2023

The remarkable life of Jimmy McIntosh

When it was finally deemed unacceptable to require people with a disability to spend their lives locked away in institutions, I well remember the debates concerning how ‘care in the community’ might play out. Would the community and all our systems of social care be up to the job? Not it seems without the tireless campaigning of people like Jimmy McIntosh who himself had spent over 40 years in one of those institutions. The life of this extraordinary man, who held no bitterness towards a system that had failed him so badly, is told in a fascinating new book.

Sean Bradley, Thirsty Books Edinburgh

Buy the book here

This is the story of Jimmy McIntosh, told mostly in his own words. Jimmy was born with cerebral palsy in Kingussie in the Scottish Highlands in 1943 and spent over forty years in institutional care, most of it in Gogarburn Hospital on the outskirts of Edinburgh. His early years on his grandfather’s farm were followed by placements in Raigmore Hospital, Inverness and East Park Home in Glasgow. Difficult as they were, these early experiences prepared Jimmy for a life of dedication to the cause of disabled people’s right to choose the life they want to lead.

Jimmy was a tireless campaigner for equality and disability rights. Failed and abused by the system, his total lack of bitterness and forgiving nature made him a discerning advocate for disabled people like himself. He left Gogarburn Hospital in 1983 and lived with his wife Elizabeth in Edinburgh until his death in 2014.

A great organiser, committee man and negotiator he was involved in countless campaigns on issues such as voting rights for patients, cuts in social services, setting up advocacy services and hate crime strategies. He was awarded an MBE in 2006 in recognition of his tireless work over many years fighting for people’s rights and challenging discrimination.

If Jimmy’s story illustrates nothing else, it is how person centred he was. A man of enormous empathy, who demonstrated such generous acceptance and patience, despite what he had experienced.

This publication is generously supported by: Edinburgh Development Group, The Action Group, The Thistle Foundation and individual subscribers to the limited-edition hardback.

The voice of Jimmy McIntosh is important to anybody concerned with a more tolerant and including society.
– Tom Frank, Former Social Worker, City of Edinburgh

‘This skilful collation of Jimmy’s recorded interviews, documentary research and reflection offers a rare insight into Institutional life in the 20th Century from a survivor’s perspective and an inspiring narrative of subsequent accomplishments.
– Howard Mitchell, Chair, The Scottish Oral History Group

‘This is both a moving personal story of how Jimmy overcame adversity to become one of Scotland’s foremost disability activists and a social commentary on disabled people’s move away from institutional living. It is a compelling read.’
– Shirley Young, Parent Activist, Trainer and Author

A man of enormous empathy… his legacy must be to keep moving forward towards a truly inclusive society where every contribution is cherished and valued in the certain knowledge that we are all the richer for that.
– Steve Coulson, Coach Consultant, Thistle Foundation

Buy the book here