National Lottery Grants for Heritage – £10,000 to £250,000
To prepare for capturing the oral histories, the project is running reminiscence sessions with the local community to get retired nurses talking about their experiences.
Twenty oral histories are being recorded to preserve the life stories of nurses who left Malaysia for the UK, responding to the UK’s call for workers from former colonies in the first decades after the NHS was created.
The nurses formed a tight-knit community in east London. They created the Malaysian Association in the 1970s (which is still active today) as a way to gather as a community and support fellow nurses. The project wants to share the nurses' stories and celebrate the contributions they made by spending their lives caring for others.
The oral histories are being used to create a bilingual booklet, video and website content. Newham Chinese Association are also co-designing and producing a bilingual exhibition to be showcased at local venues including Newham University Hospital. The project is also working with True Heart Theatre to bring the nurses’ stories to life through a theatre production.
Five volunteers are being trained in oral history recording, sound editing and website content design to support the project.
Commenting on the award, Ms Mei Fisher, Coordinator of Malaysian Chinese Lunch Club and Judith Garfield, Director of Eastside Community Heritage, said, “We are thrilled to have received this support thanks to National Lottery players.
"We are confident the project will showcase the unsung heroes of the Malaysian Nurses, who are very proud to have their stories and achievements preserved and their contributions to the NHS recognised by the British public.”