The Ethnic Communities Oral History project ran from 1987 until 1994, and published fascinating insights in to the lives of the diverse communities that make up Hammersmith.

Oral History Project

“If English is not your first and most fluent language, how do you share your life experiences with others, not familiar with yours… ‘ordinary people’s’ life histories deserve as wide a readership as possible.”  (Sav Kyriacou, former project coordinator, The Ethnic Communities Oral History Project 1987 – 1994)

In the late 80s/early 90s, the Hammersmith and Fulham Ethnic Communities Oral History Project published a set of 12 memoirs chronicling the collective experiences of the communities that make up our very diverse borough through the specific stories of individual members of them.

After nourishment, shelter and companionship, stories are the thing we need most in the world.”  (Philip Pullman)

Nearly a quarter of a century later, as part of our marking 400 years of bringing this community together, Hammersmith United Charities is republishing these stories. We will publish one a month (download on the right), each launched at a special lunch held in a venue which also reflects the community in question. You can find more about these lunches here.

We can think of no better way of celebrating the depth and richness of the heritage of our Area of Benefit nor of showcasing the range of talents and experiences from which it benefits than through the republication of these stories.

He who is different from me ….enriches me. Our unity is constituted in something higher than ourselves – in Man… For no man seeks to hear his own echo, or to find his reflection in the glass.”  (Antoine de Saint- Exupery)

This is the full list of publications, we hope you enjoy them as much as we have

  1. The Irish in Exile – Stories of Emigration
  2. Passport to Exile – The Polish Way to London
  3. In Exile – Iranian Recollections
  4. The Motherland Calls – African-Caribbean Experiences
  5. The Forgotten Lives – Gypsies and Travellers on the Westway Site
  6. Xeni – Greek-Cypriots in London
  7. Ship of Hope – The Basque Children
  8. Aunt Esther’s Story (with Stephen Bourne)
  9. Somali Sailors
  10. Asian Voices – Life Stories from the Indian Sub-continent
  11. Sailing on Two Boats – Second Generation Perspectives
  12. Such a Long Story! – Chinese Voices in Britain

Hammersmith Reflections – Award Winning Secret Gardens Open Saturday 9 June

Hammersmith United Charities is thrilled to announce the charity has won two awards at the London Gardens Society Competition for each of its two sheltered housing schemes for older people.  Sycamore House won third place for the large community gardens at the awards ceremony. (more…)

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Enigma Event – Polish Heritage Day

We were up against the Royal wedding, the FA cup final (featuring Chelsea), battery powered technology and Ikea flat pack garden furniture…it didn’t feel promising! But the sun shone, we viewed “the dress” on our mobile phones and we were enchanted by the hospitality of the organisers of Polish Heritage day in Ravenscourt Park.

This Enigma lunch took place in a tent on a drop in basis. The revelation was how to make people laugh – genuinely surprised, proper laughs – directly ask them to sit at a (slightly wobbly, bilious orange) table, eat bread and cheese and talk to someone they don’t know. For those who dared, this was everything we wanted from an Enigma event; people sharing their stories, their languages and their experiences.

We focused the lunch around the republication of “Passport to Exile”, memories of Polish migrants in the 1980s. And around an artist in residence who shared his art with us during the day. Technology failure denied us a Polish musician but instead we enjoyed – for the first time in this series of events – the conversation and enthusiasm of some delightful children.

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Irish Enigma Event

Serenaded by footstompingly enjoyable traditional Irish musicians, we enjoyed the hospitality of the new Irish Cultural Centre for our third Enigma lunch.

The hall was full for the occasion with guests drawn from the Cultural Centre, our residents, friends of the charity and neighbours who found out about the event from Next Door.

As hoped, the conversation flowed, sparked to some extent by responses to our republication of the reminiscences of Irish migrants first published in the 1980s. Guests were delighted to read the stories; some remembered the original project and, for others, the stories newly discovered, very much tuned in to their own memories.

We ended the event with a riveting and entertaining story by a professional story teller who had the whole hall enthralled and entertained with her tale of her life as the daughter of a small town shopkeeper  – and more seriously with her thoughts about “community”  – very much the theme of our Enigma lunches.

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Hammersmith Reflections – People who aren’t like us

I was sitting in the sunshine on a bench in Ravenscourt Park having a coffee when I noticed people waving from another bench on the far side of the Tea House. It was Diane, who lives locally near Hammersmith Grove, and a couple of other people.

Diane comes over. We haven’t seen each other for a while. She’s pleased to see me and shrieks in delight.  I am delighted to bump in to her too. Diane smiles. You should see that smile; (more…)

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