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Ten years on…..

March 5, 2020
Launch of Bangla Food Journeys with Maya – Jan 2012 @ Drum

Ten years ago I started Legacy WM with a desire to collect stories of Bangladeshi heritage to shape our own narrative; it has grown into a reputable organisation in Birmingham and beyond. 

Bangla Food Journeys was the first project that we developed, with funding from the National Heritage Fund (NHLF) to capture the stories of first- and second-generation pioneers using food as the common theme. A publication was completed, and the stories collected shared within the wider community, giving an in-depth narrative of Bangladeshi settlement in Birmingham.  One of the findings from our research realised that the health of first-generation migrants was better than what young people have today. In light of these findings we developed a project called cultural food journeys, teaching young people how to cook and the dangers of eating fast food on a regular basis.

Lozells and Handsworth is a place that I am very passionate about. I arrived from Bangladesh at the age of 6 and have lived and worked in the area for the last four and half decades. I have seen the area torn apart by the devastating riots, which made the area look like a war zone. I am pleased to say that the area is now thriving and that Lozells Road does not have one empty unit. This is what inspired our second project; ‘Lozells & Handsworth Heritage Trail’ celebrating the areas’ rich architectural and social heritage. With the aim to combat the negative stereotype that the area is associated with. We have had several thousand people visit our trail and the feedback is always very positive.

Men are often credited with rebuilding Britain, hence why we developed ‘Old Wives Tales’. A project collecting stories of first-generation Bangladeshi women who settled in Birmingham. Again, we produced a publication for this that was launched at the Houses of Parliament. We also held an exhibition at Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery. This project captured the imagination of European groups and led onto a project called ‘Grandmas Story’, which collected stories of migrant grandmother’s from across Europe.

In 2015, we successfully applied for National Lottery funding to develop wellbeing activities with families. We worked with several hundred families, in particular women, to improve their well-being. As a result of our success, meant a renewal of funding in 2018. This project is not simply about delivering health projects, but to create community champions that can continue the work beyond the life of the funding. This is integral to our work ensuring that the community has capacity to sustain themselves.

Building on the success of our work we have set ourselves ambitious targets to double our income over the next three years and to become a housing association.  Our aspiration is to generate core income from the housing lettings, so we can continue our work without solely relying on external grant funding.

I have had the honour of being at the helm over the last ten years and there have been some challenges ….however, the challenges out way the impact we’ve had in the community. I am fortunate to have a staff team and board that are passionate about serving the community. We have developed our governance infrastructure to enable us to continue to build and flourish in years to come.

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