We are pleased to announce that Manchester Libraries, Information and Archives; the Manchester Chinese Centre; and the Museum and Science and Industry have won the National Archive Volunteering Project Award 2011 for the Manchester Chinese Archive project.
The award is led by the Archives and Records Association (UK & Ireland) in partnership with the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council, the Scottish Council on Archives, The National Archives, and the Welsh Government.
The project aimed to tell the story of the Chinese community in Greater Manchester. A diverse group of volunteers conducted over 55 oral history interviews and undertook their own research. They photographed and filmed community events and catalogued photographs and documents which were donated or loaned by the community. An exhibition was developed – on show at MOSI until January 2012 – as well as a website (www.manchesterchinesearchive.org.uk) and digital photograph archive, a publication and a series of learning events. At the end of the project in May 2011 the Manchester Chinese Archive was deposited with Manchester Archives, from where the volunteers continue to work on the project.
The award ceremony was held at MOSI on Wednesday 24th August where the volunteers who gave their time, enthusiasm and skills to the project were praised for their outstanding commitment and dedication. Along with local dignitaries and special guests from the Chinese community, the ceremony was an auspicious occasion with many people turning up to support and celebrate alongside the volunteers who made the whole thing happen. Speeches were made by officials commending the project but the most important thing was to hear from the volunteers themselves, who gave impassioned speeches about how much this project meant to them. I was doubly impressed that they were not at all put off by the international Chinese television crew who had a camera recording their every word.
All in all it was a great afternoon; cakes were eaten, tea was drunk, photographs were choreographed and the hard work of the volunteers was nationally (& internationally!) recognised.
The clear and unanimous winner. The judges marked the project very highly on all areas but particularly praised the sustainability of both the partnerships that had been forged and the ongoing work on the archive in its new permanent home. The project was coherent and genuinely innovative. Its impact was clearly demonstrated. The volunteer group was highly diverse and energetic and the project rewarded them on many levels; for some volunteers English language skills were improved, others gained the motivation to move towards a career in archives. The effect on some members of the Chinese community was profound: ‘Lots of people come up to me and tell me that this is the best thing that’s ever happened in the Chinese community’ (Jenny Wong, Manchester Chinese Centre).