Not all good things have to come to an end…

After two years of researching, exploring, and sharing women’s experiences of healthcare in Islington over the last century (look at previous post Dispensing Wisdom Blogging Debut), the day had come when the project came to end at The Dispensing Wisdom International Women’s Day event at the Islington Town Hall on Monday 7 March 2016.

The event was a mini-experience of the project, with inspiring talks, performances and creative workshops. Here are some photographs of the day:

The event included creative workshops with photographer Marysa Dowling and set and costume designer Mila Sanders – here is Marysa above setting up her photography activity.

Talks from amazing women speakers about local heritage and archives, health and well being and careers, including one of our very own Abira above.

Beautiful poetry from women of different generations. This is Florence Campbell from the Alsen Day Centre reading one her favourite poems by Louise Bennett .

And of course the launch of The Dispensary (more about that later!)

But is it really the end for Dispensing Wisdom??

In short, what we did, anyone else can do.

This last blog post is all about passing on our experiences of the project, and hopefully inspiring you to do something similar! Whether it’s smiling at someone that you pass in the street, starting your own oral histories project, or getting to know a bit more about local stories by visiting a nearby museum… there’s something here for everyone.

The Dispensary

If you get a chance to get you hands on a copy of The Dispensary – make sure you have a look and a read! They’re available all over Islington in your local or school library, or you can order a copy right here.

The Dispensary includes original poetry, short stories, interviews, archive documents, ‘how to guides’, photographs and illustrations collected through the project. It was created by three Young Ambassadors – Naomi Money, Jemima Wilson and Abira Hussein.

Starting Conversations

‘The Art of Listening’ article in The Dispensary explains why listening to other peoples stories, especially those you might not usually hear, is important and beneficial.

If you’re got more time, why not start you’re own history project? All you need is a recording device, a list of questions, and a group of people you want to interview. You’ll find tips on how to be the best oral history interviewer in The Dispensary. If you’ve got less time, here are 4 things you can do day-to-day to hear more stories:

  • Smile
  • Volunteer at a local charity, community centre or somewhere where you get to speak to all different kinds of people
  • Ask older members of your family or an older person you know about life growing up
  • Start a conversation with someone you wouldn’t usually speak to at school, at a party, at work, at the bus stop – you get the picture!

 Step in to the past

As part of the project we visited different archives and museums in and around Islington.

If you’ve got more time, visit the London Metropolitan Archives, which is home to amazing documents, images, maps, films and books about London. If you’ve never visited an archive before, Jemima gives a guide to ‘How To Use An Archive’ in The Dispensary. If you’ve got less time, pop-in to the Islington Museum which is dedicated to the history of Islington. Next door at the Local History Centre, you’ll find the full oral history interview recordings and transcriptions of the women we spoke to. Some other favourites of ours include the Foundling Museum and Manor Gardens Centre.

Share the Stories

As we have done through the Dispensing Wisdom performances in June 2015, the International Women’s Day event in March 2016, and by publishing The Dispensary, it’s important to share stories that aren’t usually heard. Otherwise, they may never be heard.

If you have more time, there are plenty of platforms where you can share the stories you’ve heard (with the person’s permission of course). If you’re serious about undertaking your own Oral History project, it’s best to do a bit of research first, or speak to someone that’s done it before. Why not respond creatively by writing or performing a story or poem, or start your own blog? If you’ve got less time, if a story has had an impact on you, perhaps share it with a friend of family member. Or, you can always pass on a copy of The Dispensary!

Now it’s over to you to make sure Dispensing Wisdom never ends 🙂




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