Both “Back to the Future”, “Race Through the Generations”, and “Somali Diaspora Identity Project” are Heritage Lottery Funded (HLF) projects created by Black Southwest Network (BSWN).
Our first project “Back to the Future” was conducted between June 2011 and December 2012. This project asked the question: What is the impact and contribution of Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) organisations to the cultural landscape of the Southwest? We focused specifically on the heritage of BME organisations within the Southwest of England, and were interested in the contribution these organisations provided in the region. Through interviews with 22 BME leaders from 11 different organisations in Bristol, Bath and Gloucester we found that many BME organisations began in order to provide needed serves within local BME communities. These groups had little access to public resources due to issues of racism and discrimination. As time progressed some of the organisations grew larger and more developed, entering more into larger public discussions within the sector around gaining access to various public services and offices. Others ended up closing due to lack of funds or lack of need. But, overall the organisations (along with many others) helped redefine the cultural landscape of the Southwest by providing a space for different BME communities and individuals
We produced an educational toolkit for teachers and educators to use as a way to start their own smaller oral history projects around BME communities and organisations. We displayed this toolkit at exhibitions we held in Bristol and Gloucester, along with posters and short clips of interviews conducted.
Throughout the interviews we found many of the interviewees spoke about the different ways race changed for them, their communities, and the country as a whole over time. This led to us thinking about constructing a new project focused on the ways race is understood, used/disused, and (re)defined within Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) communities. “Race Through the Generations” is our second two-year HLF project that will examine this issue through the use of digital stories. Starting in September 2013 we will begin recruiting volunteers to be apart of the project as both interviewees and interviewers. Please refer to our Volunteers page for more information on how you can be apart of this new project.