When reading through the list of possible ICP work placements at the beginning of the year, I immediately recognised the Ahmed Iqbal Ullah Education Trust (part of the Ahmed Iqbal Ullah Race Relations Resource Centre in the Manchester Central Library), as something that I wanted to be involved in. Although I had visited the Race Relations Resource Centre library, before my placement, I wasn’t familiar with the Education Trust or with oral history projects in general. However, after looking through their website I began to get an understanding of the important community engagement work they were doing with ethnic minority communities in Manchester, and I was keen to contribute to, and to be a part of their latest oral history project.
The placement would involve me and another ICP placement student assisting with ‘The Legacy of Ahmed’ project. This Heritage Lottery Funded project is aimed at commemorating Ahmed (whom the Race Relations Resource Centre and Education Trust are named after), and the positive projects that have been established in his memory after he was murdered in a racially provoked attack in Manchester 30 years ago. The oral history portion of ‘The Legacy of Ahmed’ project is intended to contribute 35 relevant oral histories, culminating in an exhibition at the Manchester Central Library on the 14th October (Ahmed’s birthday).
We began by creating indexes and summaries for two interviews that had been carried out before the beginning of the ICP placement. This would be our introduction to the project and to the world of oral history. Both were group interviews with members of the Longsight-Sylhet Link Group, a multidisciplinary team of people from Manchester who, in 2003, had organised a trip to Bangladesh. Whilst there, they had visited the Ahmed Iqbal Ullah Memorial School, set up by Fatima Ullah (Ahmed’s Mother) in Sylhet. Working through those interviews proved to be a crash course in oral history, and afterwards my peer and I were given the opportunity to conduct our own interviews for the project.
Conducting our own interviews was undoubtedly the highlight of the placement experience for me. We contacted two people who had been involved in the Longsight-Sylhet group trip; Bob Day, a reverend working in Longsight who had attended the group interview, and Ros Paito, a teacher working in North Manchester. Although at first the idea of conducting our own interviews seemed daunting, I thoroughly enjoyed the experience both times, and have gained a deeper insight into the positive community, faith, and education work going on in Manchester as a result.
Overall the ICP placement has been incredibly enjoyable and rewarding, and I feel proud to have contributed to ‘The Legacy of Ahmed’ project. I am grateful to have gained some practical experience and transferrable skills, and I look forward to finally seeing the exhibition in October.