Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Sikh Elders of Bradford!

Last week saw a fantastic workshop at the United Sikh Association Day Centre on Leeds Road with young New Focus members, Kaito and Rameez, interviewing 3 Sikh elders from the Bradford community. These interviews continue to reveal the fascinating diversity of people’s personal experiences and histories. 

Like many Bradfordians from ethnic minorities,  Mr Bhadur Javanda talked about his experience of coming to Bradford when he was very young. He spoke of his family's military background, a unique and intriguing part of his personal history.

Mr Harbhajan Desai, our second interviewee, gave us a fascinating insight into working in the mills in Bradford, recalling the experience of a typical working day. Harbhajan spoke particularly emotionally when reflecting upon the discrimination he witnessed in Bradford in the early days. During the interview, he spoke of how he was proud of his children's achievements in Bradford.

Another Bradfordian businessman, our final interviewee, Mr Lachman Singh talked in depth about his successful pub businesses in Bradford in the 1970's and reflected on them fondly. Lachman spoke of the contrasts between life in India and life in Bradford, explaining how he loved and appreciated both!

It was a delight to take a tour around the centre, and a privilege to meeting the members of the United Sikh Association Day Centre who are all very excited about seeing the final results of the project!

Wednesday, 19 June 2013

Bradford's women mean business!

At the latest workshop participants from Manningham Youth Project successfully interviewed and photographed three of Bradford’s most successful women  – Usha Parmer, Anita Rani and Naveeda Ikram.

Usha Parmer, Chief Executive of the award winning Sunrise Radio, provided an in-depth interview about her experience as a South-Asian woman. Her involvement in Bradford began when she was given the opportunity to run Sunrise Radio for six months but for Usha six months turned into a year which turned into twenty four years and she has “thoroughly enjoyed it”. Although it was challenging job for Usha, some of her earliest memories of Bradford are about how the South Asian community provided her with a close-knit community making her feel “like you were part of a family”. Usha also went on to say the South Asian community “have contributed a lot, not just to Bradford, but to the country itself”.

Next to be interviewed was Anita Rani (from BBC’s The One Show). Unfortunately, Anita was unable to come to Bradford in person so the interview was conducted online via Skype! Although Anita now lives in London she emphasised how she is “a Bradfordian through and through”. She told the group a lot about what Bradford meant to her when she was younger and how there was a strong sense of community in Bradford. In her view the South Asian community “are the backbone of Bradford”. Anita took the group on a mini ‘virtual tour’ of her house where she showed them a 1940s poster of the route from London to Yorkshire revealing that, not only does she have roots in Bradford, but she also has a poster of the route to Bradford! Anita ended her interview expressing her passion for Bradford saying “Bradford gave me everything, the most inspiring and creative city…I am proud, PROUD to be from Bradford.”

The workshop finally ended with Naveeda Ikram, the first female Muslim Lady Mayoress, provided us with an insightful view on her connections to Bradford. Although she wasn’t born in Bradford, her father’s work brought her and her family to the city. Naveeda brought along a medal which is important, not only to her, but to British history as it celebrates her role as the first Muslim Lady Mayoress. This position allowed her to change public perceptions of Muslim women and show what South Asian women can cheive in public life. Naveeda remains a social activist and is now the first Muslim female director on the Council of Mosques in Bradford.

Monday, 17 June 2013

Celebrating South Asian arts

Many fascinating stories have emerged from the oral history interviews. Dr Geetha Upadhyaya, Chief Executive Officer of Kala Sangam, is one of the leading figures in Bradford's arts scene. She told the story of how the company was started from her own living room, moving to offices in Carlisle Business Centre in Mannigham. The company eventually secured £1.5million in Arts Council funding, which enabled them to acquire St Peter's House on Forster Square, one of Bradford's finest Victorian buildings. Originally serving at the city's general post office, it is now a centre of excellence for South Asian and collaborative arts.

Inspired by Dr Geetha's account of the transformation of the building the Changing Bradford group extended the workshop to make a special visit to document St Peter's House and to see the arts in action!
Dr Geetha is an internationally respected dance teacher and choreographer. Through Kala Sangam's Academy, South Asian traditions of classical dance, music and language are being preserved and shared with the wider world

Mumtaz memories

The Changing Bradford group were delighted to interview one of Bradford's most famous business owners, Mumtaz Khan who thoughtfully brought along an old photographs and an original Mumtaz menu. 

Today Mumtaz is a global brand, and one of the reasons why Bradford is known as the curry capital of the world.

The workshop, which took place at Impressions Gallery on 6th June, offered plenty of opportunities to for participants to learn new photography skills and experiment with different portrait styles. 
Photographer Bip Mistry shares his expertise with group members.

Monday, 3 June 2013

Bradford is Bradford!

In this session the young people from the Manningham Youth Project interviewed Aqib Khan, the young actor who played the lead role in the film West is West (the sequel to East is East). Aqib gave a frank and open interview and talked about how his Bradford roots have helped him stay grounded and how his feelings for the place have helped him give his best performances on film. He spoke highly of Bradford as a place where he feels at home and where 'you always meet someone who knows you somehow... from your aunties', uncles', nieces' kid!'...

Other notable and exciting interviewees included Champak Kumar Limbachia, the Founder and Artistic Director of Oriental Arts organisation and Mohammed Ajeeb a former councillor and the first ever Asian Lord Mayor in the country. Champak talked about his experience of coming from the bright and warm climate of Kenya to England, a very different place to Africa! He talked about his passion for music and Bradford. We were lucky enough to see and hear a piece of music on his harmonica in the interview, which was refreshing, unexpected and brilliant.

Mohammed Ajeeb gave an emotional and thought provoking interview when he talked about his interests and entry into politics. He talked about the challenges he faced when becoming the Lord Mayor in the 80's. The young interviewers found him inspirational and an excellent role model for young people who want to go into politics in Bradford.

The New Focus young people from the Impressions Gallery helped with the filming and portrait photography. Hayley Sargent, Rameez Khwaja and Austaeja Krukonyte took pictures for the blog.