Voices: The Community Story
To celebrate the Scottish Government’s initiative, Scotland’s Year of Stories: 2022, Scottish Council on Archives are creating a national focused project, Voices: The Community Story. Bringing together the stories of people living in all regions of Scotland, it will be an opportunity to learn new skills, meet new people and form future partnerships as well as bring together qualified archivists, heritage professionals and community groups, often volunteers. We will provide practical training, guidance on best archival practice, including digital preservation as well as the opportunity to network and form new partnerships.
The project will provide an introduction to archives for many people who have not engaged or been aware of this part of the heritage sector. We set ourselves the challenging goals set out in The National Archives’ Archives for Everyone strategy: to build trust, tear down barriers and be bold. In 2021, a survey was sent to members of the Association of Scottish Local Authority Archives Working Group and the response was incredibly positive and a common desire soon emerged to capture the stories of people who had come from somewhere else and were now living in their area or region. As a result of the survey, the theme of our project is Migration. We welcome the stories of New Scots, second or third generation or people already living in the UK who have decided to relocate to Scotland. It was important to reach out and attract all people to be part of Scotland’s Community Archive and hear the voices of people from a variety of backgrounds and from harder to reach communities.
In preparation for Voices: The Community Story, SCA managed a pilot project in 2021, Voices: The Hebridean Story involving a Robertson Trust Summer Intern over a 6-week period. The aim of this oral history project was to interview, publish and archive a snapshot of the unique stories and experiences of people living in the Scottish Hebrides during the Covid-19 pandemic. Find out more here: Voices: The Hebridean Story.
The project will end in 2022, and an evaluation report will be provided to all stakeholders which will include a guide to Next Steps, as you will have the knowledge and skills to continue recording your communities’ stories. To recognise the end of the project it is intended to host a networking event, a one-day conference or series of workshops. This will be held at Edinburgh City Chambers on the 30th of November.
For enquiries email: email@example.com
Storyteller, Scottish Refugee Council
Chris is a writer and activist working as Storytelling Officer at Scottish Refugee Council. In this role he works to challenge the mainstream narrative around refugee issues, supports new Scots to share their stories, and connects communities and individuals with various projects including Voices: the Community Story! Chris has worked for Scottish Refugee Council since November 2018, and before this spent 15 months volunteering in Calais raising awareness of the situation at the French/UK Border.
Scottish Refugee Council is Scotland’s national refugee charity, dedicated to supporting people in need of refugee protection. We are here for people at a difficult time in their lives, we speak out against an unjust asylum system and campaign for policy change.
Senior Research Fellow, European Ethnological Research Centre (EERC), University of Edinburgh
After a career in biology, Mark studied history as a mature student at undergraduate and postgraduate level, at the University of Edinburgh. Since 2004 Mark has worked at the EERC. He worked as an editor on the 14 volume series Scottish Life and Society: A Compendium of Scottish Ethnology and the Flashbacks series. Mark now leads the ‘Spoken Word’ strand of the Regional Ethnology of Scotland Project (RESP). In this role Mark is responsible for volunteer fieldworker recruitment, training and support and for ensuring that the materials created are made available as openly and usefully as possible. Mark is active in collaborating with individuals and groups in conduct of the RESP to enable the creation and retention of information about life and society in communities across Scotland.
Sound Curator, Scotland Sounds, National Library of Scotland
Charlie McCann is a Sound Collections Curator at the National Library of Scotland, having taken up the post in January this year. He has experience of working with audio-visual collections at the BBC, working in various newsrooms and archives since 2006. He has experience in cataloguing, project management, digitisation, technology development and inclusion initiatives.
Project Officer – Colourful Heritage
Dr. Saqib Razzaq is the Project Officer/Head of Research for Colourful Heritage (CH). This project started in 2010 as an informal conversation amongst friends on the importance of preserving the South Asian and Muslim Heritage in Scotland. The aims of the project are to capture and to celebrate the contributions of early South Asian and Muslim communities that came to Scotland more than half a century ago and to inspire all parts of Scottish society and beyond with their positive contributions.
Colourful Heritage has been actively documenting a collection of inspirational stories and personal accounts told by the participants themselves, to create a highly unique and fascinating online video archive as well as other resources (e.g. Schools pack, Explore Heritage). This growing archive of over 125 short videos is the largest of its kind in Scotland and is easily accessible on our website. It provides first-hand accounts of the personal journeys and emotions of the earliest generation, highlighting the inspiring lessons we can learn from them.
Partnerships and Engagement Manager, SCA
Audrey is the Partnerships and Engagement Manager at the Scottish Council on Archives. Following the successful delivery of the NHLF funded Skills for the Future project, Opening Up Scotland’s Archive, Audrey built on the project’s legacy, widening participation and engagement, working closely with community archives and local history groups, to encourage their sustainability and development. The Partnerships and Engagement Manager is responsible for the management and delivery of SCA’s outreach and engagement programme, including the co-ordination of a programme of activity focussing on community archives, volunteering and non-professional audiences.
Archivist, Tasglann nan Eilean
Seonaid is the Archivist at Tasglann nan Eilean, the archive service of Comhairle nan Eilean Siar – the local authority which serves the Outer Hebrides. As well as running the public archive service, part of her role involves offering advice and support to the network of thirty comainn eachdraidh (local historical societies) and community heritage organisations throughout the islands in regard to caring for their archives.
As part of our Voices project, we are releasing a series of webinars to help you with your oral history project. Topics covered will include interviewing techniques, technical tutorials and oral history training. The series will be published over the duration of the project, so check back regularly for new episodes!
Webinar 1 – Interviewing Techniques
Welcome to our first webinar episode! Click the video below to find out about the interviewing techniques that will help you feel more confident and prepared going into your oral history interviews.
Webinar 2 – Oral History Interviewing Online
Our second webinar episode is brought to you by Conor Walker from Scotlands Sounds, National Library of Scotland. Conor talks about how to record your oral history interviews using Zoom as your online platform – this is great for those of you planning on conducting remote interviews!
Webinar 3 – Interviewing People with Lived Experience of Seeking Safety in Scotland
Join us for our 3rd webinar delivered by Chris Afuakwah from The Scottish Refugee Council and a member of our steering committee. Chris talks about the best way to engage with those who have lived experience of seeking safely in Scotland, allowing you to gain an awareness of the topic before you begin your interviews. This will be particularly helpful for those interviewing more vulnerable members of community groups but is an excellent resource for everyone involved in this project.
Webinar 4 – Quick tutorial on basic editing on Audacity and file naming/file conversion
Below is a very quick run through of the editing software programme audacity which focuses only on the most basic features that you’ll need to use for this project for any editing that is required. It also covers the file naming and conversion of files into the m4a(used for the webpage) and WAV file (held in the archive).
Webinar 6 – Digital Preservation and Sustainability
Charlie McCann from Scotland’s Sounds discusses the importance of Digital Preservation ad Sustainability within the archives.
Webinar 7 – Oral History and The Archive
Mark Mulhern of the European Ethnological Research Centre at The University of Edinburgh speaks about the way the archive and Oral History intersect.
VCS Oral History Recordings
Click the play button on the image to listen to some of the oral history recordings from Voices: The Community Story Project! We will continue to add more recordings here until the end of the project on November 30th so keep checking back to listen to some new stories.
Rabab who is 22 years old was born in Yemen tells the story of her life so far and her experience as a young adult in Scotland today. She explores the challenges she has faced and the lessons that she has learned so far which have helped her maintain a positive attitude to life and the opportunities available. Listen to her story by clicking the link below.
Ahmed, originally from Yemen shares the difficulties and reality of experiencing war whilst also discussing his successful military career and his online presence which he has used to positively influence a huge number of people to reach their potentials through sharing and circulating opportunities for self improvement and personal and professional development. Ahmed also shares personal moments including the amazing story of how he first met his wife.
Raffaello speaks of his family’s journey to Scotland from Italy, exploring both his maternal and paternal family history . Raffello’s maternal side moved from Pistoia, Florence in 1910 and their initially f settled in Edinburgh before moving to Glasgow in the 1920’s. Whilst his father remained in Italy until 1938 before moving to Scotland. Raffaello gives a fascinating and personal account full of rich family history and personal insight into the forging of a strong Italian community here in Scotland during the twentieth century. Please click the link or picture below to hear his story.
Fayze’s family was one of the first from Syria to settle in Clackmannanshire in 2015. When Fayze and her husband came to Scotland they had four sons and they have since had a daughter born here. Fayze talks about her life in Syria and Lebanon, the challenges and opportunities of moving to Scotland, and her family’s hopes for the future.
Ryan tells his story in Gaelic and discusses his memories of his first first home in St Andrews. He also talks about his home in Krakow, Poland and his experience of going to an international bilingual high school. Ryan discusses his time at the University of Glasgow where he studied Celtic Studies and English Literature, reflecting on his time spent learning Gaelic. Ryan also draws comparisons between Grimsay and the Isle of Skye, reflecting on his experience in both places as well as the challenges faced due to moving frequently. Click below to hear Ryan’s story in Gaelic!
Noura El Masri
The interviewee shares the challenges she faced in learning in Scotland. As an adult she had to sit apart from younger students in school in Shetland due to social distancing during the pandemic. Contributor discusses the challenges of studying in another language, the move to Aberdeen, as well more challenges to learning (while grieving her father), all of which made her more determined. Achieving high grades enabled her to get two offers from both Aberdeen University and RGU to study biomedical engineering.
The interviewee was born and raised in Saudia Arabia where life was easy and pink, moved to Jordan at age of 18 , studied English literature and worked with international crisis management organization. That was her first connection with Syrians who fled Syrian war seeking safety in neighbouring Jordan. Contributor enjoyed the richness of having three cultures that formed her personality and now loves the Scottish landscapes and the uniqueness of the Scottish countryside. She enjoys quiet walks by Aberdeen beach which is sadly no use for swimming!
Abdul Bostani discusses his childhood memories of Afghanistan and fleeing from the war as a child before coming to Scotland. Abdul shares his first memories of Scotland, the challenges he faced and the educational opportunities presented to him. He then goes on to discuss the inception of the organisation founded by Abdul called Glasgow Afghan United. Abdul reflects on the growth of the organisation as it established itself as a constituted community organisation and then becoming a registered charity. He also reflects on being elected as Councillor for Maryhill in May 2022 which is Abdul’s current post. Click below to hear his story!
Oscar was born in Caracas,Venezuela and discusses his childhood there before relocating to Spain and marrying his wife Sam. Oscar studied Graphic Design and International Studies in Venezuela and descries moving to the midlands in the U.K but being dissatisfied with his job. This along with his wife securing a job on the Isle of Lewis, promoted them to move to the island. He reflects on the importance of loving the place you live in, the friendliness of the people in the Western Isles and how important that has been in helping them feel settled. Oscar also discusses the difficulties of island life and what he sees in the future for himself and his family. Click below to listen to Oscar’s story!
Simona, originally from Switzerland explains her childhood in the Italian speaking Southern region of Switzerland. Reflecting on the landscape of her childhood, Simona describes her earliest memories of food, family, religion and education. This interview speaks of the journey taken by Simona from living in London, to teaching and assisting with the foundations of first Italian speaking university in Switzerland before retiring and moving to Orkney with her husband. Please click the link below to listen to Simona’s story!
Fernanda Acosta Ballesteros
Recorded over Zoom, this oral history recording features the story of Fernanda and her experience of experiencing life on two different continents before settling in Scotland where she lives currently! Click the link below to listen to Fernanda ‘s story.
Jani originally from Hungary and now living in Glasgow discusses his life as a musician and the fascinating journey of touring around the UK, teaching and founding the Ando Glaso group which aims to encourage a greater understanding and participation of the Roma people in Scotland. The group works towards through the promotion of arts and music programs, educational workshops and seminars, conferences and events at both local and national levels. Jani’s interview begins with a brilliant piece of music played by Jani himself and also features audio appearances of his very friendly dog Rolo peppered throughout this fascinating story of a personal perspective on the importance of music and culture.
Fadia’s interview explores the journey made by herself and her family from UAE to Scotland. Fadia recalls the start of the war in Syria and the impact this had on her family and the decisions they had to make. Fadia and her daughter were able to seek asylum in the UK and have been here since 2019, joining her son who was a student based in the UK. Arriving first in Manchester, Fadia discusses the move from Manchester to Stirling and finally to Bridge of Allan. Click below to hear Fadia’s story.
Millie talks about her life before moving to Orkney in September 2021, living first in West Lothian near Edinburgh. Millie talks about visiting Orkney for the first time, her journey to her new home and her experience on the ferry. Click below to listen to Millie’s honest reflection on her time so far on Orkney and the new things she has enjoyed in her new home.
Sheila Kom MacKenzie
Sheila speaks of her childhood in India and discusses her experience of Nagaland and its community as well as her journey of education from her Catholic primary school to her pre university education at Calcutta. Sheila’s story follows her life as she reflects on her past and memories of India whilst drawing comparisons to the island of Stornoway in Scotland where she now lives. After arriving on the Isle of Lewis in 1998, Sheila discusses the life she experiences here while both reflecting on past experiences and looking forward to the future.
Sawsan describes her experience of growing up in Aleppo, Syria and her childhood with 6 sisters and 2 brothers. After her schooling, Sawsan worked in a factory in a quality control department. She describes the difficulty of the war beginning in 2011 and the danger and stress of trying to help her mother through an illness in the midst of the danger. Sawsan discusses the long journey she made with her mother from Syria to Turkey on foot. This is a deeply personal and emotional account of Sawsans experiences before coming, and her journey to Scotland
The interviewee travelled back and forth within Syria and Kurdistan Iraq between 2012 and 2015 seeking safety and health for herself and family. Luckily, they were offered humanitarian protection through the United Nations due to contributor’s health situation. The family arrived in September 2021 to Aberdeen and has been settling nicely and getting to find their ways in learning English and learning to drive on the left of the road. The contributor’s most unique expression about the past ten years of moving is her feeling of life as being in a bag and always on the move until arriving in Aberdeen, where she feels she can unpack and rest.
Amanda was born in Orlando and grew up in a Northern Suburb with her parents and throughout her interview discusses how different moments throughout her childhood might have contributed to her current career as a filmmaker. Amanda has been involved in the film industry for 20 years and reflects on her time living in different countries and how this helped her realise certain things about herself. Now living in Edinburgh, Amanda discusses moving to Edinburgh from New York and her current ideas for the future. Click below to listen to her story!
Ivan, originally from Italy, tells the story of his life and how he came to settle in Edinburgh. He talks about his art and how he found in The Welcoming Association a space to express himself and build connections with others. Click the link below to hear Ivan’s Story.
Tarek, originally from Syria, tells the story of his journey to Scotland. As a Syrian refugee who was forced to flee his country, Tarek explores the challenges faced and reflects on the lessons learn to maintain a positive attitude towards his new life in Edinburgh. Click the link below to hear Tarek’s story.
Salaheddin has travelled and experienced life in many countries. In this recording he discusses his childhood in Syria, his family dynamics, his work as a teacher and his experiences living in Russia while studying journalism. After returning to Syria to care for his mother the outbreak of war forced Salaheddin and his family to escape to Turkey where he worked as a refuse collector, before making a final move to the Scottish Highlands. This is a frank and honest conversation about struggles, injustice and gratitude.
The interpreter is Huda Donald.
Nabiha, originally from Yemen and co-founder of the Yemeni Scottish Foundation tells her story and the journey of how she came to settle in Scotland.
Marie-Thérèse tells the story of her family’s journey from Italy to Scotland and shares stories and memories that are important to her and her family legacy. Her grandfather was a tenant farmer at the turn of the 20th century from Toscana, Italy who decided to migrate to Scotland and Marie-Thérèse shares his story with us. The picture below shows Marie-Therese’s father Dante Filippi on his graduation day in 1949.
Mary-Louise was born in England and migrated to South Africa with her family when she was 5 and a half years old which despite so many years away, she still considers home. She then moved to London in 2002 before moving to Thailand with her husband 13 years later. After six years in Thailand Mary-Louise moved back to the UK with her family before then moving to Orkney. Click below to hear her account of how she came to live on Orkney and her experience so far.
Mira tells the story of her life in her native Syria and in Lebanon, and the process of coming to the UK, where she has settled in Clackmannanshire with her family. She discusses the opportunities and challenges of starting a new life here, and her hopes for the future as she is about to start at university
Liam discusses his early childhood in Edinburgh where he was born before moving to Orkney 10 years later and the different schooling and culture experiences of the two places. Liam discusses the unique challenges of going to school on a smaller, less populous island particularly when compared to a bustling city like Edinburgh’s New Town. This interview gives an interesting insight into Liam’s own experience as a child and his understanding on what occurs today, reflecting on the changes that have been made and the way these have been received. Liam was elected as MSP in 2007 and moved to Burray, Orkney with his wife and two sons and discusses his life now that he has moved back to Orkney from Edinburgh.
In this conversation Joudi describes happy times growing up in Syria before the outbreak of war led to her family’s move to Egypt where they remained until Joudi’s father’s death. Joudi reflects on the impact of both countries in her story and tells how the family’s onward journey from Egypt to Scotland transformed her education and future prospects. Joudi’s uplifting story reveals her love of Scotland and her passion for education.
Hind Abu Dabos
The interviewee left her hometown Dara’a in the south of Syria to al Za’atri camp in 2012, they stayed their for few years. Contributor shared awful experience when their tent was flooded and her son was just an infant. They were sheltered in one of the UN caravans till they were offered humanitarian protection through the UN program and arrived in Aberdeen in September 2016. Hind has been enjoying the warmth of community and has many friends in Cove who she keeps in touch with offering them her unique meal famous to her town, al mlehi: authentic meat cooked in dry yogurt and placed on rounded Lebanese bread. Hind has a passion for writing and learning music.
Martha Mattas Coelho
The interviewee discusses her childhood growing up in Lisbon, Portugal before she moved to in Scotland in 2015. Martha’s story reflects on her family history and reflects on her father introducing her to rambling in Lisbon, which is something she still enjoys doing in Edinburgh. Comparing her experiences in Lisbon and Edinburgh, Martha talks about her connection and appreciation for the culture of both places. Click below to hear her journey to Scotland and her experiences living here from day to day life to becoming an elected member of Edinburgh City Council!
Sam was born in Caracas , Venezuela where she lived with her family before she moved to Spain at the age of 19. Sam began studying archeology at the Central University of Venezuela where she describes her experience of witnessing student protests and riots, After studying in Venezuela for two and a half years, Sam then went to Spain to continue her studies. Following 10 years in Spain, Sam decided to move to Sheffield to see if she enjoyed living in the U.K and she did! Using a house sitters website Sam was ale to visit different parts of the U.K and was very happy when she experienced her first Christmas in Edinburgh! Listen below to the full story and how Sam made the journey from Edinburgh to Stornoway where she now resides.
Other Project Resources
Resources for Supporting Vulnerable Participants
Useful Videos on Copyright
Digital Sustainability Webinars:
Webinars on Topics of Interest
International Coalition of Sites of Conscience, Rethinking Migration Exhibitions Around The Globe.
International Coalition of Sites of Conscience, Evaluating Projects for the Greatest Impact
International Coalition of Sites of Conscience, Migration and Refugee Communities During Covid-19
Oral History Projects
Check out these projects to get an idea of the different kinds of topics and themes being recorded throughout the UK.
Our Story Scotland
Our Story Scotland is a registered charity and and collects, archives and presents the life stories of the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) community in Scotland which involved oral history work with people of all ages. In addition to collection stories, images, artefacts and research materials from GBT lives they also present their heritage through the arts, using exhibitions, storytelling and drama. Please find more information here.
Refugee Stories Project: The Immigration and Resettlement of Germans in Western Canada, 1947-1960
This project aimed to document the memories and experiences of ethnic Germans from Eastern Europe and Germany who immigrated to Western Canada following the Second World War. Find out more here.
Voices of Dundee: Oral History Project
This project has recorded almost 100 stories of people who have lived and worked in Dundee, with common themes being of family life, community, work and leisure throughout the recordings. The project celebrated these recorded stories through a number of evenings which seen clips of the recordings combined with stories, music and poetry. The three evenings were: ‘Talking Textiles”, “Musical roots” and Talking Shop”. To find out more please visit their webpage here.
British Library Oral History Projects
There are a number of projects and archived material accessible to the public on the British Library website. Whilst some are highlighted below this list is by no means exhaustive and further projects can be found on their website here.
The Listening Project: The Listening Project is an audio archive of conversations recorded by the BBC. People are invited to share an intimate conversation with a close friend or relative, to be recorded and broadcast (in edited form) by the BBC and curated and archived in full by the British Library. These one-to-one conversations, lasting up to an hour and taking a topic of the speakers’ choice, collectively form a picture of our lives and relationships today. There are a number of recordings which deal with the theme of migration among others such as Politics, Community, Family, History and many more. To explore these recordings please see here.
The Vietnamese Oral History Project: The collection includes first-hand testimonies of some 110 refugees, their children and refugee support workers who were interviewed between 2000-2003 as part of the Vietnamese Oral History Project run by Refugee Action and supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund, the British Library, Museum of London and the Panos Institute. The project aimed to bridge the gap between three generations of the Vietnamese community and to help them share their experiences with the UK public. Topics covered include interviewees’ early lives and family circumstances in Vietnam, education and careers, their reasons for leaving, their journeys from Vietnam, life in refugee or transit camps, establishing new lives in the UK, feelings about being refugees, and hopes for the future. The project was sponsored by Refugee Action. For more information please see here.
Moroccan Memories In Britain; This is a project which was carried out by the Migrant Community Refugee Forum (MRCF) in 2007-2008 and explores the experience of three generations of Moroccan residents inLondon, Crawley, St. Albans, Trowbridge and Edinburgh who migrated to Britain and grew up in the British Moroccan community. For more information please see here.
The Chinese in Britain Radio Interviews: This contains a collection of the uncut interviews from a radio series produced by Culture Wise for Radio 4 in 2007, which explored the lives of the Chinese that came to Britain before the 1960s and also interviewed second-generation British-born Chinese. For more information please see here.
Narratives of Exile and Return: This is a collection of interviews across three generations of Barbadian families, carried out by Mary Chamberlain between 1992 and 1994 for the Barbados Migration Project. Chamberlian’s book Narratives of Exile and Returndrew heavily on the interviews. For more information please see here.
The Oral History Society
The Oral History Society has been supporting Oral History for half a century and in that time they have become a centre of knowledge and advice for oral historians. They promote the collection, preservation and use of recorded memories and their involvement within oral history has been widely appreciated and respected. The Society offers a wealth of knowledge to both movie beginners to seasoned professionals and the resources avail on their website are invaluable to the oral history community. Please find their website here.
Oral History Training with Sarah Lowry, Oral History Society
For our project Voices: The Community Story it is vital that we make Oral History as accessible as possible, ensuring that the skills and confidence needed to conduct oral history are offered to a wide range of our project stakeholders. We have partnered with the Oral History Society and trained oral historian Sarah Lowry who is running training sessions for a number of our stakeholders. These training sessions, split over two half days offer people the in-depth understanding of what Oral History is and its vital importance to society as well as the fundamental steps in conducting an oral history project. The stakeholders who complete this training will receive a certificate supported by the Oral History Society and The Scottish Council on Archives confirming their participation and can be used for Continual Professional Development. To supplement this learning and in attempt to widen the accessibility of Oral History the Scottish Council on Archives has partnered with Scotland’s Sound, National Library of Scotland to make an Oral History webinar series available and publicly accessible for all. These webinars will be located on this webpage and will cover areas from interviewing techniques to technical processes involved in oral history i.e using an audio recorder, editing software and file labelling.