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

Goodbye to Tim

We said Goodbye to our CEO Tim Hughes on the 8th November. We marked his transition into a life of unpaid work with a Tea Party.
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Hammersmith Reflections – Why we need art

Guest blog entry by Nora Laraki

 

Most of you know me as the Administrator of Hammersmith United Charities, the first point of contact when walking through our doors in Sycamore Gardens. But since 2017 I have also dedicated my time to do a PhD and dive with this research project deeper into the art world. (more…)

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Hammersmith Reflections – Solutions for an Ageing Society

Guest blog by Geoff Hands, business mentor

“Solutions for an Ageing Society” is part of Hammersmith United Charities’ programme of Social Enterprise Grants. Under the direction of Melanie Nock, HUC’s Head of Community and Partnership, it provides funds to launch new business ideas created by budding local entrepreneurs to enhance the quality of life of older residents in the Borough.

As well as offering grants, Hammersmith United Charities also provides a Business Mentor to help each entrepreneur work up a business plan and to support the successful launch of each new business. Coming from a background of law and business, I have had the good fortune to be that Mentor since the programme started in the summer of 2017.

The entrepreneurs are inspiring people, sharing a common characteristic – a fervent and infectious passion for their cause. All except one of them have been women; some young, most of them of a mature age, all of them coming from a variety of ethnicities reflecting the great diversity of cultures to be found in the Borough.

Their business ideas have been just as diverse, but they have mostly shared the common themes of combatting loneliness and enhancing community cohesion. One entrprenuer’s aspiration was to be an Energy Specialist for the Indoor Environment, bringing her career skills in energy efficiency and sustainability to enhancing the indoor environment of residential homes and day centres for older people. Another woman has been working closely with her daughter to establish an elderly persons’ care-at-home business embodying the cultural mores of her community particularly the love of older people and respect for their wisdom and experience.

Cooking and creative arts are well known antidotes to loneliness and insecurity. One very talented young grantee’s solution for an ageing society was “to lift people out of loneliness using food to create a community that meets regularly to talk about health, diet and cooking”. It was her belief “that inspiring people to cook for friends and family is a way to regain self-confidence and that giving the lunch participants new recipes and ideas to try at home will hopefully be an incentive for them to host more social gatherings on their own”.

A Solutions for an Ageing Society grant has been supporting another extremely gifted award winner in successfully testing her business idea in the local community – in sheltered housing, churches and community halls. Her scheme is to run “hands-on professional fun and creative Art &Crafts workshops with a focus on Textile Art and Felt Making for the elderly, in a safe and supporting environment” expressly with a view to “to fighting isolation, improving health and well- being and making friends by stimulating the senses and challenging minds to learn new hands-on skills”. She and I are currently working together on ways to take her idea to a new level and to grow it into a fully-fledged sustainable social enterprise.

These grants also extend to seed-corn funding an award winner intent on breaking down the taboos that prevent men from certain cultures talking about – and doing something about – the incidence of prostate cancer.

A Social Enterprise Grant from the charity is supporting a new organisation whose mission is the relief of domestic violence in the Borough particularly against immigrant women not able to speak English in isolation imposed by their violent partners. It teaches these victims that domestic violence is not an accepted norm in society, finds them a sanctuary and embraces them in a community of women with shared experiences but now assertive and independent in their own chosen milieu.

And a final “hurrah” for the one man in the scheme – a Life Coach seeking to establish a sustainable business providing a programme of Personal Development Workshops for elderly people. He hopes to introduce a pioneering ingredient – “cross generational mentoring” to integrate different generations working together and supporting each other in motivational life skills.

It is a privilege to work with these compassionate and dedicated people. One of the entrepreneurs wrote recently: “I must tell you that the time I spent with you and Melanie really did restore my self-confidence which had been knocked after almost a year of unemployment. I will be forever grateful for the confidence and belief HUC gave to me during that dark time.” An unexpected accolade for Hammersmith United Charities from an unexpected, unintended but nonetheless very welcome beneficiary.

Hammersmith United Charities has funded this programme in partnership with Unltd and the Esmee Fairbairn Foundation.

Geoffrey Hand
October 2018

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January Grants deadline

Apply for a grant by 7th January!

The next deadline to send your grant application will be the 7th January.

Find our application form and entry requirements here.

Contact Melanie Nock if you would like to talk to us about your idea or your application.

We look forward to receiving your application!

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