Gibson, Faith (8 of 17). Oral History of Oral History
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2011-03-10, 2011-07-21, 2011-09-20, 2012-03-22
Newtownabbey, Northern Ireland
Gibson, Faith, 1931- (speaker, female)
Wilkinson, Robert (speaker, male)
Part 8: Being in a university did not make much difference to the patients. Better for staff especially having students. There 18 months and then became pregnant. Norman had been offered a post at Manchester University in the Dept of Economics. Stayed there for five years and two more children born in Manchester. During that time she briefly did some interviewing for Gordon Rose in the Social Policy Unit. They had a house in Peel Hall Wythenshawe and Faith met people through her children. In 1967 Norman went to the University of Wisconsin at Madison. The day before they went Norman was interviewed for the Foundation Chair of Economics at the University of Ulster. They had six months in Madison, retuned to Manchester for a while. Happy six months in Madison once the thaw came. Difficulties of being housebound in the snow. After that life became enjoyable. Michael their eldest child had got into school. After Madison Norman commuted to Coleraine to set up the new department. [18:00] Discusses Normans speciality in economics. Faith was happy to return to Northern Ireland. Children going to school, Faith and a couple of other university wives set up the first community playgroup in NI in Castlerock. Describes how the playgroup was set up. Ministers wife ignored Catholic families initially. However it did evolve. Castllerock was predominantly a Protestant community. Talks about the start of the Troubles. Norman had been deeply immersed in anti sectarian politics. He had been a member of the Unionist for a while. He got involved from an anti sectarian Protestant viewpoint. He wrote speeches for people from every political party apart from Sinn Fein and extreme Unionism. Always opposed to Paisley and what he stood for. Norman didnt join a political party because of academic independence. When he rose in the university he ceased involvement. He had served on the Whitelaw Commission. [33:40] Gives an example of sectarianism in the university. An academic told Norman that he was on their Quisling list. Mentions another incident involving putting a fire escape in their house particularly for the children. The worker asked why they were fitting the escape. He said when they took over this would make a fine headquarters and they shouldnt worry as they dont touch little children. The bombings and shootings concentrated generally in working class areas. Mentions a bomb in Coleraine where their youngest child was in primary school. Their older children by then were at school in Ballymoney as more mixed and co-educational. There were seven fatalities and was their nearest incident. [44:40] Education system perpetuates the divisions. Churches collude in this. Integrated School Movement is a small proportion less than a third. [48:40] She wrote to her mother every Sunday. Two trips back in 30 years. Father never visited, mother came when she was 80 for her first trip out of Australia. She became ill and never returned. She died in Coleraine. Normans parents had lived with them then Faiths mother. They had to leave East Belfast because of the Troubles. Family relationships got her interested in gerontology and in particular reminiscence. Mentions Joanna Bornat and the Help the Aged reminiscence pack. Saw the reminiscence pack was too London focussed. Needs to be local. [56:32] Her father had retired from Peters Ice Cream. When he was terminally ill she took the youngest grandchild, Paddy to visit him. Very expensive to travel. Rarely phoned mail was important. Parents lived near her brother. Sister went to London as a nurse, but came back as a £10 Pom and settled in Melbourne. Brother and sister both dead. Two of their children have moved to Australia so they visit regularly.
Life story interview with Faith Gibson, Emeritus Professor of social work at the University of Ulster.