AGIR Intergenerational Project
What was the project/the structure?
Commissioned by Medway Council, AGIR was a cross border Intergenerational project, where MEMF organised 5 workshops to strengthen awareness of migrant cultures (both new and established).
The main objective of this inter-generational approach on the history of migration was for the youth to understand the history of their parents or grandparents migration to UK, and for the elders to understand the issues affecting the young people.
One key activity consisted of making a cross border comic on personal histories of migration, whereby younger generations from migrant communities on both sides of the Channel will work together to collect “My story of migration” testimonies from their elders. From the French side, the final event and launch of the comic book took place on 24th March at a cross-border event “Migrant Awareness Week” in Amiens, France, where 10 participants from MEMF attended. The Final event from UK side was held on 26th March. The resulting comic or presentation could also be used as a communication tool as well to promote the project via a web-based media platform.
Who was involved?
The project involved other partners, like, Thanet Council, Kent County Council, and similar minority ethnic organisations operating in the town of Amiens, in France.
At the workshops, we had 55 participants, adults and young people, belonging to various ethnicities- Czech Republic, Latvia, Russia, Roma, Polish, Lithuania, Ghana, Nigeria, West Indies, China, India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, and Philippines. Each participant was given an opportunity to introduce themselves, talk about their journey of migration, their cultural traditions, and experience in UK. Questions, given to all participants, were asked by young people to the older generations, and vice versa. The French comic book artists attended MEMF workshop to draw sketches of attendees, and were sent all the workshop summaries via email.
What was the context/background?
The overall aim of the AGIR Project was to further progress migrant and ethnic minority inclusion in housing, employment and skills, health and child care by achieving their increased take-up of mainstream services. It was hoped that this will be achieved by engaging in the joint cross border delivery of mediation / outreach and cultural activities and also in cross border co-operation to develop a shared understanding of migrant needs and their cultures.
What were the outcomes and how were they measured?
The outcome of the intergenerational workshops was the contribution of stories and experiences of migration which were collected via audio recordings and photos, and then given to comic book artists in order for them to become part of the collection of stories in the comic book.
Medway Ethnic Minority Forum also provided all the participants with an evaluation questionnaire on how they benefitted from the workshops, what they enjoyed about them, and how to improve in future. Reports of individual workshops were provided to Medway Council’s AGIR team on a regular basis. MEMF ensured that photo consent form was duly signed by parents for children under 16.
In addition to the positive feedback received from all the participants about their experience within the workshops, it was found that many of them were interested in leaving their contact details with us so that they could participate in future projects and cultural activities with us. In this way, the AGIR intergenerational project workshops introduced people, who were shy of involvement, to the benefits of working with community organisations and integrating themselves into services.
What lessons can be learned at cross-border level?
After assessing the feedback from all the participants, it was found that they thoroughly enjoyed the workshops, because they were offered a chance to share their complicated and important stories of migration – something which many of them had not been asked to do before. The workshops brought together migrants from communities who may not necessarily mix all the time e.g. Bangladeshi, Polish, Nigerian, Pakistani), which promoted increased understanding and appreciation across groups.
“I felt that it was therapeutic – like reminiscing for older people could be, and it made me want to get involved with other communities“
“The main thing that I liked about the workshop was learning about other people’s cultures, talking and listening to their stories and also sharing my stories as well. The venue was nice. Everyone was friendly and I felt comfortable and relaxed to talk with people I had never met.”
A participant from the younger generation noted that by listening to elders’ stories she had learnt that in a difficult time, "if you don’t lose hope and courage and keep working towards your goal you will succeed.”
One participant commented that she learned that: “there is commonality of experiences irrespective of where we have come from, that although we are all relatively well- integrated, there is a craving for the familiar”
“It taught me about the immigration struggles of other communities, and about experiences different generations face”
“The workshop was a useful way to participate in discussions with other communities, and It made me want to talk about my immigration story more “