A diversity of voices, ages and cultures

Today we went back to a warm welcome at the Douglas Drive Senior Citizens Centre in Stevenage, the North Herts Multi Ethnic Forum in Hitchin and back to Stevenage for Chells Manor Community Centre youth group.

At the Douglas Day Centre we spent time with the Wednesday group to find out more about their communities – how they are now, what they used to be like and what makes their communities work or not.  For many people the pick up bus service is vital to their ability to get to the centre, withought this service there were many people who would not get to meet other people for days at a time. It raised all kinds of issues about how older people are valued in our society, and that many old people are forgotten but we were delighted to learn so much about peoples lives and their skills, one lady with frail, painful hands is still a great draftswoman and drew for us whilst we were there. It was a good reminder that all old people are more than just old people, that they had long rich lives and have much still to give and share that we can learn from.

We went on over to the North Herts Multi Ethnic Forum where we chatted to the staf and to the Italian ladies, men and a group of Sikh men. Many had lived in hitchen for a long time and were able to talk about the changes in the town how the community had grown and what connected it. They spoke about how the town is not what it used to be but how one strenght is the way diverse population get on.

The Forum stems back to 1975 when local Black and Minority Ethnic groups first began collectively campaigning for a Multi-Ethnic Community Resource Centre to serve their needs.  Member organisations include representation from African Caribbean, Bangladeshi, Chinese, Indian, Italian, Polish, Pakistani, Sri-Lankan and people from other EU nations.

In the evening we headed back to Stevenage to the Chells Manor Community Centre  to run an evening activity with the fantastic and energetic youth group aged from 5 – 16.  Youth worker Mark Lee made a huge effort and got there despite a broken down car so that we could run the session.  We set out around the neighbouthood with the young people photographing their places, the spaces they use, placced they got to with friends. Using this walk as inspiration we made a large drawing of their area and discussed the community. It was interesting to think about what they see in their community – as compared with what an external perception of Chells Manor might be. The things they saw included:

i saw a fox

i saw the pub, shops, chip shop

i saw, a cat , a man smoking

i saw a tree and a road and an aeroplane

i saw a red flower, a broken glass

i saw myself

i saw a load of people at the youth club,

i saw my house

apparently we saw a train going up a tree

i never saw two men shooting each other

i saw darren

i saw houses, dogs,

i saw the green, football, cricket, cycling down fairlands

nothing else

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