A significant part of the Dreaming Streaming digital arts and archive project is to work with communities that neighbour onto the City Fields development.
This week we’ve been at the Eastmoor Community Project at St Swithuns. Eastmoor is part of Wakefield East Ward. Situated to the east and south of Wakefield city, this ward incorporates Eastmoor, College Grove, Portobello, Primrose Hill and Northgate. The ward is bounded to the east by the Aire and Calder Navigation.
What immediately strikes you at this Centre is the vibrancy and its obvious reach to the community. The Centre is a place that supports every aspect of a resident’s life from early years provision, lots for young people of different ages, vocational training, community groups to languages and sessions for the elderly. The Centre is also an important venue with excellent facilities that can be booked for organisations wanting to run community or more specialist activities within a central location on an estate.
Eastmoor was one of seven council housing estates in Wakefield that were built after the First World War to house workers for the local mining industry, glass industries, railways and textiles. During the early 1930’s a slum clearance programme got rid of a lot of older properties and shops, changing the face of what had been a more rural area into much larger estate-based community.
The legislation to implement the Right to Buy was passed in the Housing Act 1980. This meant that residents could buy their council houses, and ones that were not bought, were transferred to social housing landlord Wakefield District Housing in 2005, who are still responsible for a lot of properties on the estate.
Over the last few decades the estate has changed considerably, it is now more culturally diverse, a greater range of languages are spoken and the traditional industries offering employment and structure have long since gone. The Community Centre was built on the site of the old St Swithuns Church and works closely with established residents and newer waves of residents on the estate. It is for all these reasons that the heritage of the area is very important to residents who want to share their knowledge of the past with future generations.
In the Dreaming Streaming ‘drop in’ we had an exhibition of archive photos displayed to prompt discussion and interest as people came in, we recorded interviews, established connections between people who had not met for years and managed to salvage some old photos from corrupt CD discs. It was a practical, rewarding and fun session with lovely people.
At One to One Development Trust we have worked with communities across Wakefield for nearly 30 years capturing stories, helping residents/groups reflect on their own community and personal journeys, been a conduit for creating networks and increasing well-being through creative projects.
I never tire of working with people who come alive telling their own stories. Like the volunteer Maureen who has dedicated her life to the Centre and her community, or Val reunited with a photograph she took over 40 years ago; Cecilie whose journey from the Caribbean to Eastmoor 50 years ago is worthy of a book, or the two men who talked and laughed as they found connections from their youth despite dementia for one of them sometimes being an obstacle. This is what projects like this are about, creating space and opportunity for people to come together, connect, reflect and celebrate.
We look forward to ongoing work with the Centre and creating a community ‘Dreaming Streaming’ exhibition before Christmas.
A big thank you to Chris, the Centre Manager and the local Councillors for their support. And finally, I would advise anyone who wants a place to have a meet up, take stock of their thoughts, or to have lunch, to call into the café at St Swithuns and enjoy a cuppa with one of Andrews homemade scones! They really are the best. 🙂
The next Dreaming Streaming event will be an Open Afternoon at West Yorkshire Archives on Tuesday 16th October, 12 noon till 5pm where you can see an exhibition of the project so far, watch some films, listen to audio recordings and contribute your own stories to the project.
For more information call Judi on 07901 686142 or follow the project on social media using #DreamingStreaming
Blog header image courtesy of Twix Aire and Calder