By Abira Hussein and Naomi Money – Young Ambassadors
What better way to start than going back to the very beginning?
Here is a quick overview of the journey so far – and what a fascinating journey it has been…
The journey began back in July last year, when all the Dispensing Wisdom team came together to learn about Oral Histories. Verusca Calabria, an Oral Historian, gave the team an excellent introduction to Oral Histories, highlighting their importance in documenting social history. She also taught us some amazing interview techniques, which would come in very useful when we conducted our own interviews.
We launched the project at Manor Gardens’ Summer Fair in July 2014, aiming to engage with women at the event and give out information on the project. We ran a photo booth with photographer Marysa Dowling and asked women to take a portrait with a chalkboard saying what their relationship was with Manor Gardens was.
August 2014 was a busy month for the team – we got our ‘researcher hats’ on! The team returned to Manor Gardens for a special guided tour of the building and got the opportunity to look through some of the archive. We discovered Manor Gardens’ 100 years of amazing work and its special place within the Islington community.
Next, we delved into the vast archives of London’s history at London Metropolitan Archives.
It was then swiftly on to the Foundling Museum, which tells the story of the Foundling Hospital, ‘London’s first home for abandoned children’.
Later we headed to the Islington Museum, learning about Islington’s eventful history. Then finally back to Manor Gardens to look at their annual health reports, reflective of the state of health in Islington throughout the 20th Century, and the changing needs of the borough.
Phew! It was then time to reflect on all the incredible things we had heard and seen. We created our own historical timeline showing some of they key (or just really interesting) events concerning women and healthcare in Islington over the past 100 years.
Now, it was time to put our oral history skills into action, hear directly from Islington women and listen to their personal stories of motherhood, healthcare and generally being a woman! After creating the interview questions, we spoke to the lovely women of the Turkish, Kurdish and Cypriot Women’s Welfare Group, Alsen Day Centre, Hilldrop Community Centre and women within the Somali community.
Their stories were touching, inspiring and testament to their resiliency.
We look forward to telling you more about our wonderful experiences of Dispensing Wisdom in the forthcoming posts!