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A trip to Welsh museums 

Funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund, the Bawso BME Oral Stories project, under the guidance of Dr. Sophia Kier-Byfield from the University of South Wales, embarked on a mission to co-produce narratives of ‘finding home’ with survivors supported by Bawso. This initiative is pivotal in capturing and preserving the intangible heritage of Black Minority Ethnic (BME) and migrant survivors in Wales, ensuring their stories are told and controlled by them. 

The project’s engagement with service users through visits to the National Waterfront Museum, St Fagans, and the National Wool Museum has been transformative. These outings provided a platform for the women to step out of their daily struggles and connect with the cultural heritage of their new home.

Swansea waterfront museum on 11th January 2024. A discussion on the objects held by the museum, facilitated by Elen and Rhian from the museum. 

At the National Waterfront Museum, the women were introduced to the museum’s partners and learned about the integration of oral history in exhibits. The visit was interactive, with the women taking pictures, asking questions, and sharing personal stories. This not only demonstrated their interest but also fostered a sense of community among them. The day concluded with a bonding session where they shared laughter and emotional stories, further solidifying their connection. 

The visit to St Fagans National Museum of History was equally enriching. The women from Cardiff service users enjoyed a guided tour, learning about Welsh history and capturing memories through photographs. The tour sparked discussions on various topics, including the Aberfan disaster, which resonated deeply with one of the attendees, reminding her of a similar tragedy back home. 

An old Continental typewriter at Swansea waterfront museum, donated in 1985.

The National Wool Museum visit was a journey into the heritage of wool-making. The women engaged in activities like drawing and discussing objects that reminded them of home. This visit was particularly poignant as it allowed them to reflect on traditional skills and the impact of technology on industry. 

Overall, the project’s impact on the women was profound. It provided them with new experiences, a sense of belonging, and an opportunity to contribute to the cultural narrative of Wales. The museum visits were more than just educational trips; they were therapeutic sessions that allowed the women to momentarily forget their challenges and immerse themselves in a shared cultural experience. 

A guided tour of St Fagans Museum on the objects on display.

In essence, the Bawso BME Oral Stories project has significantly impacted the women attending by offering them a voice, a chance to learn, and a moment to bond over shared histories and experiences. It has enriched their lives and added to the cultural mosaic of Wales, ensuring their stories and contributions are recognized and remembered. 

What Bawso service users had to say about the visit