Category Archives: oral history

Education Pack

Asian voices leafletAsian Voices is developing an education pack in which schools can teach their students aspects of oral history though a social, historical and geographical context. Oral history is about capturing people’s feeling, emotion and experiences of past life to allow individuals to trace developments within an area.

Asian Voices is looking at Huddersfield’s geographical landscape and the way it has changed since the 1960’s through the South Asian influence. We are hoping to produce an education pack viewed through South Asian history in which students from all backgrounds can explore their local community.

Packs will be available free to Kirklees schools from January 2010.

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Oral History Interviews

flashmicWe are always looking for people to interview and if you are interested in recording your oral history please contact me via the Asian Voices website www.asianvoices.org.uk.

We are looking for people who have lived or currently live in Huddersfield and are first, second or third generation South Asian.

Interview with former Mayor of Huddersfield; Karam Hussain

Former Mayor of Huddersfield

Former Mayor of Huddersfield

In the final hours of his term as Mayor, Former Mayor Karam Hussain invited me into the Town Hall parlour to take an Oral History recording of his life as Mayor, achievements; his struggles of starting work at the age of 15 in the textile mills and how he still has a strong sense of belonging to Kashmir, his birthplace. He recalled memories of coming to England at the age of fifteen to see his dad who had left for England when he was born and described the way in which his granddad called him back to live in Kashmir after finding out he was working in England in the mills at such a young age.

Karam Hussain spent many years between homes, six months with his parents in England and six months with grandparents in Kashmir. He recalls enjoying the experience and highlights the way in which it has deepened his knowledge and life experiences, but Karam decided to settle in England when he married and started his family; as England provided a better life as was viewed by many South Asians at the time. He describes how life was hard in England and he only managed to go back to Kashmir every now and then, but he achieved his ambitions with will power and determination, describing his previous role as Mayor with a focus of bringing communities together.

Karam Hussain was Mayor of Huddersfield from May 2008-2009. He is the second South Asian Mayor of Huddersfield after former Mayor Mohan Sokhal whose term as mayor completed in 2002.

 Listen to this oral history on the Asian Voices website, along with many other oral histories from the Huddersfield community on www.asianvoices.org.uk.

Dementia in the South Asian Community

There is an increasing number of elderly South Asians suffering from Mental Illness, Alzhiemer’s disease and Demntia and many go unnoticed or are hidden away by family members as they are afraid of what the community might say, but in this day an age with more education and knowledge this community is coming to terms with these illnesses and the support around them is fantastic.

Yesterday, my grandmother who is about 80 years of age forgot where she lived. The sun was shining and the weather was hot so she went for a walk aound the garden and then thought she would go to her son’s house who lives across the road. As she  got to her son’s house she forgot where she lived and went took the wrong turn. Now at the age of 80, she does well to get across the road but she also suffers from dementia and in that split second she lost her way and from Birkby ended up five miles out into Thornton Lodge where she lived when she first came in 1964… this was the only place she could recall.

South Asian families still live within the extended family structure, not necessarily in the same house anymore but within easy reach of each other and only a phone call away. As my grandad returned home from town an hour later and found the door open and his wife gone he became worried as she was nowhere in sight and the neighbours had not seen her. So an extended family search party consisting of grandad, son, daughter, graddaughter, gandson-in-law and brother and neighbours began and within an hour of the search party she was found (three hours after she had left). The police were just about to get the helicopters out when a shop keeper who knew my gran also from the south asian community phoned my dad to tell him his mum had made her way all the way across town, on her ownto her shop!

My gran was happy to be home, but Dementia is unreliable and only when she got home did she remember her address and everything else she had forgotten whilst she was out.

Her life has been a journey itself leaving her family in Pakistan and coming to England in 1964, bring up her six children in Huddersfield and still not know the English language and now as she ages she is losing her present memory and recalling the past more and more… now this is when you can see the benefits of Oral History because if we don’t record it as memory fades so will the traditions.

Islamia Girls High School

Islamia Girls High School

Islamia Girls High School

Oral history training has now started at Islamia Girls High School, Thornton Lodge, Huddersfield. We have trained Year 9 and 10, the techniques behind good interviewing skills and looked at individual heritage. The girls had fun using the digital recorders to record each other on their family background and heritage.

I will be going back to train Years 7 and 8, and hope to look at what they might pack in their suitcase if they were moving from England to Pakistan, India or Bangladesh.