The Heritage of Community Centres & Communities in Milton Keynes
Since its conception and development as a New Town in SE England in the 1970's, Milton Keynes has grown into a thriving multi-cultural place, with designs to acquire city status in 2022. There is a wealth of heritage in Milton Keynes. It is important that stories are recorded and archived of how communities with diverse backgrounds and ethnicities migrated to MK.
MKIAC Heritage Multicultural New Towns Project took steps towards collecting these stories in 2019. In late 2021 the buildings and communities phase of the project commenced. This innovative project focuses on Oral History workshops for schools and a Somali youth group. Community centres used by a selected group of elders, also serve as the sites where their Oral history recordings take place by workshop attendees. This adds context and meaning to the project's objectives.
Members of the Sikh Gurdwara Ramgarhia Sabha volunteered to participate in the project and were interviewed by Shenley Brook End School A' level students. The Oral history interviews were filmed by Living Archive MK within this community building. This was an invaluable opportunity to build bridges between different cultures, age gaps and life experiences, through the process of making Oral history recordings. There is particular emphasis on stories of migration to Milton Keynes. Student engagement was exemplary. Overall, students view their role in this project as a valuable experience. Students were able to put newly acquired skills into practice, drawing out interviewees recollections from early childhood, to working life (including working on the early construction of MK), to retirement in present day MK. Students were composed and focused, even capturing raw emotion, where interviewees talked about close family bonds.
It was a new experience for both students and community members. There was added value through sharing tasty food provided during the visit. Students gained an educational experience (not normally available) to learn about local history, within an international context of migration, from a foundation of mutual respect and understanding.