Quiet but not silent, thanks to National Lottery, life stories of older Chinese people can be heard

I want to tell you about an exciting new project, which represents an investigation “crossing cultures, crossing time” for many people within our communities. 

In July Wai Yin Society received a National Lottery grant of £36,900 for an exciting heritage project – Crossing the borders – in Manchester. The project will focus on first generation Chinese immigrant who came over to the U.K. from China, Hong Kong, Macau, Vietnam and Malaysia. They all have fascinating stories to relate about the different political regimes they have lived under,
how they made their way to Britain, and how they settled and made
new lives here for themselves.

Thanks to the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF), the project will enable this group of
Cantonese speaking older people to get together and share their stories. They will
be able to explore the differences and similarities of their way of life between where they are and now and where they came from for example the different festivals and celebrations that are common in their hometown.

As Louise Wong, our Project Coordinator said, “ the Chinese community is changing with Cantonese speaking generation declining, we are delighted to have received this support thanks to National Lottery players and are confident the project will preserve stories of older Chinese who came from different countries and their stories will be heard for many generations to come.”

Throughout the project, volunteers will be recruited and supported by the Wai Yin
Society and All FM Radio where they will receive specialist training. They will learn interviewing techniques, research and IT skills, recording, radio broadcasting and presentation skills. They will also visit relevant art galleries and museums to learn more about Chinese history which may reflect their life experiences and they will gain a deeper insight into this under-researched part of their heritage.

Wai Yeung, Wai Yin Society volunteer says “With the current and next generation of Chinese people being born in the U.K. a lot of Chinese heritage and history is not passed on and preserved by parents or grandparents, even some languages and dialects are lost. This project funded and supported by the National Lottery is ever more important to preserve the culture and history of these individuals.”

Stories of participants will be recorded as oral history interviews, the interviews plus copies of old photographs lent to us by the interviewees will be compiled into a project book and will be broadcast as a series on All FM Radio. Documentation from this project will become part of the oral history collection curated by the
University of East London Archives, Library and Learning Centre, and the Ahmed
Iqbal Ullah Race Resource Centre at the Manchester Central Library, where it will be preserved as a permanent public reference resource for use in research,
publication, education, lectures, broadcasting and on the internet.

Wai Yin Society has been supporting, empowering and working in partnership with Chinese individuals and families for almost 30 years. The Society has developed a range of employment, education and community services for the Chinese communities and from other ethnic minority groups and aims to challenge all forms of discrimination and social exclusion through the provision of diverse and proactive services.