North East 2016


Tyne & Wear (Janette Hilton)

Living History North East: The Regional Oral History Centre – Sunderland

Living History North East continue to support the development of oral history led projects, training, networks and support across the north east. As always LHNE hope to illustrate how oral histories can be used in creative and innovative ways to engage the wider communities in the region. LHNE are working alongside a number of projects, these include:

‘Our Roots, Our Journey Our City’.

The Sunderland Bangladeshi Community launched their exhibition and website in September this year. This community is the most populous BME community in Sunderland. Bangladeshis have been arriving in Sunderland since the 1960s. With the majority arriving from Syedpur,  Life in Sunderland proved extremely different  from the life in Bangladesh. Through a series of  oral histories interviews from the community, as well as interviews from other diverse groups in Sunderland; ‘Our roots Our Journey, Our City’ tells the story of a community’s journey, their experiences, their  hopes, fears and expectations as they arrived in the UK and  travelled to Sunderland to provide opportunities for their families. The project produced a timeline exhibition, currently on display in The Bangladeshi International Centre in Sunderland; a smaller exhibition as a travelling exhibition; a 60 minute DVD compilation that charts the community story through oral history testimony; a website which hosts (via YouTube) the 40 interviews that were completed as part of this project. These can be accessed at Living History North East supported the community oral history training, DVD production and historical context for this project as a heritage partner.

Hearts and Minds Across Generations:

Developing intergenerational dementia and reminiscence awareness through activities.

This work developed a programme of activities that focused on delivering accessible, specialised dementia awareness and reminiscence sessions and workshops for young people and teenagers, working alongside older volunteers.  

Working alongside Bridging The Gap, Pip McKever led on the training sessions providing opportunities for young people to be mentored through the dementia and reminiscence sessions and supported by older volunteers in delivering a session to people living with Dementia/Alzheimer’s in the community.

The project developed a network and outreach capacity, enabling access to people with dementia in assisted living environments. This was supported by trained and experienced staff.

The work enable participates of all ages to develop session around memory and activity that benefit the clients and user in the various community settings.

Children from Broadway Juniors School, established a Dementia Cafe in school as part of their long term development of skills for young children.

This provision is part of Living History North East’s programme of Making Memories Matter.

“Sings”, (Sunderland Intergenerational Singers):

Living History North East haves secured funding to support  a new Intergenerational Community Outreach Choir. Connecting generations through song, song writing and singing. Providing opportunities for  intergenerational exchange through this new development. The activities will involve coming together as a new group, learning what it means to be part of an intergenerational experience, breaking down stereotypes and exploring differences in an affirmative way. Core values of intergenerational practice will be shared, with an opportunity for some members to become ‘Intergenerational Champions’ in their communities. The project will build on the success of previous work, by using personal memories and oral histories to develop song writing skills and to share the past and experiences the past through song.

This project will provide an opportunity to use existing oral histories within the collection.

In addition this project will encourage participants to write and develop new songs through collaborative song writing processes sharing musical ideas, melodies and lyrics. “SingS” – will empower people to develop and value their own voices, the voices of the past, foster mutual understanding and respect among people of all ages and backgrounds.

Where the Wild Things Were Project

Tees Valley Wildlife Trust

The project aims to fill a gap in our current knowledge about past experiences and activities of children exploring wild spaces and nature in East Cleveland. It will also help us to map the past distributions of animals, wildlife arrivals and changes to the landscape to help us better contribute to nature conservation in East Cleveland today. We will try to fill these gaps in our knowledge by conducting oral history interviews with 50 residents who grew up in the middle of the last Century in East Cleveland.  The interviews will provide a fuller picture of the evolution of East Cleveland’s wildlife and the activities and experiences of the last generation to experience truly free roaming outdoor childhoods. The project is being led by Kate Bartram of the Tees Valley Wildlife Trust, supported by volunteer interviewers.   The interviewers will have been trained in interview techniques. The research is funded by the National Lottery players through the Heritage Lottery Fund and Northumbrian Water.  As the recordings will form a historically significant collection of interviews they will be archived with Tees Archives for future generations of researchers to access.

Selected parts of the interview recordings will be used on our website and selected transcripts may be used in some of our publications and those of others.  Copies of all recordings will be archived with Tees Archives so others can refer to them at some later date.  The Project is receiving oral history training and support from Living History North East, the regional specialists in oral history.

North Tyneside Area (Kath Smith)

We have begun to work with two very diverse organisations in our local area. Shiremoor Adventure Playground is researching the history of adventure playgrounds in North Tyneside since the 1970s and our role is to support a team of young researchers to interview playworkers who worked in this field at that time.  North Tyneside Art Studio (NTAS) is researching the history of the studio as it celebrates its 25th anniversary. NTAS was established to support people with mental health problems at a time (1991) when they were being moved out of residential care back into the community. The research will record the effects of this change and give a voice to a group of people who have lived through the transition.   Current service users and staff will be trained to collect oral histories and create digital stories, they will also learn research techniques, audio editing, archiving and dissemination methods so that they can share the stories they are finding with a wider audience.  

RPRF was approached by staff at our local NHS Palliative Care Unit with an idea to record some of the life experiences of the patients in their care.  After a series of exploratory meetings which focused heavily on ethical issues the outline of a pilot project, ‘Pass it On’, emerged, which is currently running.  RPRF volunteers were trained by Michelle Winslow of OHS in the specialist techniques required to interview patients in end of live care.  Our main objective in this pilot has been to give people a chance to enjoy an activity that is totally outside of their ongoing medical care, focusing on them as a person, rather than a patient.  Their recordings will be added to the RPRF archive as part of its ongoing work in North Tyneside.

Finally, we’re keeping our fingers crossed that HLF will fund a follow on project ‘Linskill After School’. One reason why we’re so keen on this project is that we will be part of a team creating a soundscape, combining the human voice and the sounds associated with life in the building, which is now a thriving community centre.