Tell It Like It Is (TILIS)

TILIS is a movement which has been developed from the stories of people with learning disabilities and/or autism in Highland. The lived experiences of individuals and looking at the world through their eyes is a powerful catalyst for change in a society where the perception of disability is either tragic victim or hero survivor.

TILIS is a celebration of the culture that individuals with learning disabilities and/or autism have contributed towards, and a documentation in film and photographs of the impact this has on their lives and society. People with learning disabilities and/or autism have their own view and experience of the world around them that is transforming and inspirational, challenging and provoking.

The mission of TILIS is to inspire positive culture change through history and testimony, celebrating the every day, ordinary lives of people with learning disabilities and/or autism and making it visible. This comes with a desire to also challenge society and champion, politically and ethically, the rights and responsibilities of our people as citizens.

The material has artistic value in its own right, and will be exhibited, but also has political and social impact and our vision is to create ripples of change in how people are perceived which has impact on policy, practice and legislation. This is about changing hearts and minds! People with learning disabilities are not one dimensional and not defined by their label. We want their views and lives represented as whole, rounded, real.

Organisations, groups or individuals that want to share their story can contact Ellie Wolf directly to arrange a visit.


Community Journalism – TILIS has created a course in community journalism, where people with learning disabilities and/or autism are trained in interviewing people, writing articles and capturing evidence and testimony. Our vision is to recruit community journalists within each region of Highland and develop a network of ongoing storytelling within Highland. This is not just about people with learning disabilities. We would like our community journalists to interview and tell the stories of all people in Highland. This will include creating links with academic institutions and other relevant organisations so that action-based research and lived experiences can be also be communicated through a policy and research audience as well as the general public.


TILIS is innovative in placing not only testimony at the forefront of social change and transformation but the proactive and responsive approach it will take to committing lived experience to film by involving the contribution of people with disabilities in the production and publication of their perspectives. Learning disability then and now – but the now being captured in terms of Highland life and culture.



Health and Happiness is working with Highland Childrens Forum in setting up opportunities for young people to tell their stories. We have been involved with transition for several years and listening to the experiences of young people, feeding this into strategic groups such as the Chief Executives Joint Board for Transitions (NHS Highland).

TILIS Photographic Projects

Carrie Bates is a documentary photographer and has extensive experience in supporting people to learn about photography and is currently the Health and Happiness photographer-in-residence.

“I am a warm-hearted, respectful person with a professional attitude. When I enter a person’s familiar space, I like to keep their environment as normal and natural as possible.  As much time as necessary is spent to help each person feel more at ease.  Equipment is kept to a minimum.  I take a camera and lenses. Sometimes I use a tripod, but I prefer to handhold whenever possible.  I do not use a speedlite (flash) as some people may have epilepsy. I work with natural light or available artificial light. Before any photo is passed on to the person who has commissioned my work, I will show the best photo(s) to each person in the image for them to choose whether the photo(s) can be used. “ 


The monochrome archive was developed in 2016 with people who wanted to show their daily lives, what they liked and disliked, and showcase a snapshot of themselves. Below is a small selection from Kenneth, John,Josh, Jesse and Kirsten – thank you!


TILIS Film and Documenatry

Charlie Wilson is a Highlands & Islands based filmmaker with more than 25 years extensive experience of producing and directing film content. He has worked for Voluntary Sector Organisations, public sector services, including NHS Health Scotland and NHS Highland, commercial broadcasters, higher and Further education providers, Primary and Secondary schools and The Scottish Government.
Charlie’s filmmaking experience includes working as a director in the independent film sector and large-scale TV drama productions including ‘Taggart’, ‘High Road’, ‘Dr Findlay’s Casebook’, ‘Brookside’, ‘Byker Grove’ and ‘Machair’. He has produced and directed significant television commercial campaigns for clients including, The Royal Navy, Highlands & Islands Enterprise, The Highland Council and several National retail chains.
Additionally, he regularly collaborates with VSO’s, producing films for organisations working with people who are Deaf & Hard of Hearing, Learning Disabled and in Mental Health Advocacy, Visual Artists, story tellers, musicians, poets and writers. Charlie Wilson is the Health and Happiness film-maker-in-residence. In addition to his production company, WeeTv Ltd, Charlie is Programme Leader B.A. (Hons) Film-Making in Remote and Rural Areas  at University of Highlands and Islands. The films for TILIS are uploaded onto the Health and Happiness Youtube channel.

The TILIS vision includes Charlie working alongside people with learning disabilities and autism, as part of an internship funded programme. Funding is currently being sought to take this part of the project forward.