I chose to do my placement at the Ahmed Iqbal Ullah Race Relations Resource Centre because of my interest and previous experience in oral history research. In 1986, Ahmed Iqbal Ullah, a 13-year-old Bangladeshi boy, lost his life defending another schoolboy in a racist attack in Manchester. Established in 1999, the Resource Centre named in memory of Ahmed, opened as a race studies library. Subsequently, the Ahmed Iqbal Ullah Education Trust was founded in 2001 as an independent charity working out of the Centre. Their shared mission is to participate in outreach and engagement with local communities ‘to document, preserve and disseminate black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) experiences’.
I really enjoyed my time there and have learnt a lot about the opportunities for an archive to participate in ethical research with the support of local communities. As part of my placement I got to attend a certified oral history training session and then conducted an interview with a community worker. I really enjoyed doing the interview and found the task of summarising and indexing the interview for public access truly thought provoking. I also got to help out on a book launch, and spent a day with the City Library’s conservation team where I bound together my very own notebook!
During my twenty days at the Centre me and another placement student decided to cooperate to create a short film. I had been taking another course on Documentary Filmmaking and was keen to put my skills to the test on another project. The objective of the film was to help community groups understand the purpose and contents of the Centre’s archive. This was an important task as typically the images associated with an archive are dusty old books. In the Centre’s case, their archive is instead full of oral histories and documents donated by community groups such as photographs, leaflets, and administrative papers dating back no further than the 1970s. We wanted to create a visual resource for the Centre to be able to show to community groups that their archive is the right place for these documents. It was especially important to use film to do this as for some of these prospective groups English is not their first language. The film would contribute to the Coming in From the Cold project, a three year project that ‘aims to support BAME community groups to develop and deliver heritage projects and to increase the representation of these communities in archival collections in Greater Manchester’. We are almost there and hoping to finish the film in the next few weeks!
Overall, I have learnt a lot on my placement and developed invaluable links with the Centre, I will be continuing to work with them over the summer as a freelance oral historian, and plan to use their rich and diverse collection for my dissertation research. I would like to extend a special thanks to Hannah Niblett and Jennifer Vickers for all their help and support during my time there.
 Hannah Niblett and Jennifer Vickers, ‘Community Partnerships and Collection Development in the Legacy of Ahmed Project’, Participatory Archives: Theory and Practice, (Facet Publishing, Forthcoming 2018), p. 1.
 Coming In From The Cold, Ahmed Iqbal Ullah Education Trust, accessed at: http://www.racearchive.org.uk/community/coming-in-from-the-cold/
Naomi Weaver is a Master’s student in the History Department at the University of Manchester. You can see the film she and Yang Li made here: