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Ilford charity celebrates 20 years of helping people share their stories with House of Commons party

PUBLISHED: 15:00 15 May 2018

New charity patron, MP Lyn Brown, speaking at the birthday celebration. Picture: Eastside Community Heritage

New charity patron, MP Lyn Brown, speaking at the birthday celebration. Picture: Eastside Community Heritage

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A Redbridge charity dedicated to recording and preserving powerful stories from the past celebrated turning 20 with a Houses of Commons party.

The reception was held at the House of Commons. Picture: Eastside Community Heritage The reception was held at the House of Commons. Picture: Eastside Community Heritage

Patron and MP for West Ham Lyn Brown hosted an event for Eastside Community Heritage who are based at the Cardinal Heenan Centre, Ilford.

Established in 1993 to document the regeneration and social changes in east London, the organisation was originally called the Stratford City Challenge Community Heritage Project.

In 1998 it registered as a charity and became Eastside Community Heritage and has during the last 20 years has worked with over 1000 community groups, 200,000 individuals, delivered over 3000 school workshops, 2000 reminiscence sessions, and preserved over 4000 oral histories and 30,000 photographs.

Eastside Community Heritage director, Judith Garfield MBE said: “I cannot express in words how important and special it is when we complete a project and the participants see their words in a book, film, or exhibition on a website.

“It gives meaning to their lives and for that moment they are special.

“Our work has broken down barriers, changed perceptions, brought people together to understand, value, enjoy and recognised a shared heritage but a different experience.

“We have spent the past 20 years at Eastside doing giving history back to the people, to tell it in their own words”.

Since its inception Eastside has established the London Peoples Archive and preserved and produced 30 video documentaries, 80 exhibitions, 20 websites, trained over 800 volunteers, established a cultural heritage training centre and trained over 30 young people in an NVQ.

Ms Garfield said the charity has transformed from a small, localised and struggling organisation into the “market leader” of community heritage in Great Britain.

She explained that the vast majority of the stories the charity has told, would have been hidden from history, as the experiences were from working-class, economically deprived, disabled and immigrant communities.

“Many of these voices would have been lost as it has been a process which has often required Eastside staff to persuade that their stories were worth telling,” she added.

“These stories add a unique perspective and the organisation has been at the forefront of the development of community heritage in Britain.

Visit hidden-histories.org

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