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BILD - All About People
Saturday 16 November 2019
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1970s: BILD founded by Professor Gerry Simon

Gerry Simon - BILD's founder

In 1967 Gerry Simon became Medical Director of Lea and Lea Castle Hospitals, in Worcestershire. He was convinced there should be better support in the community for people with learning disabilities and their families, and he devoted the next 25 years of his life to ensuring this happened, locally and nationally.

A vital strand of this endeavour was to ensure that there was a transformation in the attitudes and skills of the professionals supporting people with learning disabilities and BILD was launched in 1971. Its remit was educational: running conferences, courses and workshops, publishing research findings and good practice guidance, and providing information through the library and 'current awareness service'.

Equally important was the recognition of the role of family carers, and, for example, courses and publications were developed to help them teach new skills and manage challenging behaviour.



Of course, Gerry Simon did not achieve this on his own. He had the valuable knack of spotting talented people, enthusing them with the BILD 'mission' and enlisting their support. He was also adept at engaging effectively with the government, developing partnerships with grant giving bodies, and building relationships with academia.

The ability to form alliances with individuals and organisations and Gerry‟s extraordinary energy and commitment ensured that BILD was able to build a small team of dedicated staff, grow the range of services it offered and the influence it had, whilst remaining financially secure throughout his long tenure as Director.

Peter Taylor

Peter was a lecturer with BILD from 1976 to 1978; BILD’s Associate Director (Psychology) from 1979 to 1990 and Advisor in Psychology, 1990 to 1993.


Books helping make change happen no. 1

BILD pioneered publishing  books providing practical information about policies and good practice for family carers and support workers. We've published more than 260 books and trainer packs and 6 journals, from the British Journal of Learning Disabilities, to the new International Journal of Positive Behaviour Support. We've chosen four books, one from each decade to illustrate this work.

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Next step on the ladder cover

'The next step on the ladder: assessment and management of the multi-handicapped child'.

Gerry Simon (1973)

This book, by BILD's founder, was building on the progress made in the previous 10 years on developing educational provision and approaches for all children with learning disabilities (known then as mentally handicapped children). BILD started its long tradition of focusing on the needs of people with complex needs with some of its very early books.

Forgotten lives cover
Interested in finding out more?
BILD has books on the life stories of people with learning disabilities on our books page.

BILD house

Home sweet home

The two houses in Lea Castle hospital grounds: 'Tardis-like in their ability to absorb people and equipment', which served as BILD's headquarters for over 20 years.

'It was novel working in the information department, situated in the 'front bedroom' and we had many a laugh escorting visitors to the 'back bedroom' to use the library! Staff meetings were held in the 'lounge' and if everyone was in that day, several people had to stand out in the 'hall'!'

A time of firsts 

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apex cover

The first Apex Journal

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first annual report cover
The first IMS Annual Report
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first bimh report cover
The first BIMH Annual Report after the 1978 name change.

Timeline: 1970s

timeline 2 70s