Another case study from the Basis Project. Find more case studies on our website.
My name is Rosa Ross and I’m the secretary of the Anglo-Iranian Society of Bristol which was formed in May 2007. There had been a lot of activity to people prior to that to celebrate calendar days but we thought that as the Iranian population was increasing and lots of children of Iranian parents are being brought up here we thought it was a good idea to establish a community to promote the culture to these younger people.
My name is Nuwa Serunjogi, I’m the Organisational Development Officer in the South-West for the Basis Project, working with Refugee Action in Bristol. I’ve been in post for eight months, since August 2009.
When I started my role, taking over from my predecessor, the first thing I did was to contact all the organisations in the area that had been working on the project and one of the first organisations I contacted was the Anglo-Iranian society.
I am Iranian and I’m proud of my background and I don’t want to be pushed down. To me as a mother I think that if children don’t know about 50% of their background then when they grow up they feel a gap and an imbalance. Sooner or later they want to know what was the other part. So we are doing it now here and also we haven’t been funded at all, we are just doing it through donations.
My work is focussed in two main areas. I’m working with them on their overall governance – their ability to manage and run the affairs of the organisation. And also to raise funds. But the overall aim is that this organisation is very keen on promoting and engaging in cultural activities. The members are generally Iranian refugees living in the Bristol and Bath area and many of their children came here when they were very young or have been born here. They’re very keen that their children learn about their culture and that older members of the community can pass it on to the younger ones.
One of the things they have been promoting is the learning of Farsi. And there are various other cultural activities including teaching them Iranian music, playing the guitar and poetry.
Some of the funding bids we have submitted are aimed at bridging the gaps to help carry out these activities.
My name is Mina Mousavian and this is my friend Anahita Bozorgi. I live in Bath and am a very active member of the Anglo-Iranian community here in Bristol.
I think this group recognises that inevitably their children are British but they also want them to know that they should not be ashamed of their heritage. They should be proud of the fact that they have Iranian heritage.
In sociology they would call it when people are in a space. I myself felt that way, when you are pulled between two sides of the wall. Children who are brought up here are English, yet they are not English. Their parents speak a different language and talk about different memories and ideas. So we are trying very much to fill that gap because it can have a very bad psychological effect. I think it’s important for children and ourselves to remember and know where our roots come from. And it’s such a wonderful thing to be together and share something that we all have in common.
My name is Anahita Bozorgi and I really enjoy activities such a ladies night and other events. We can share our ideas, if we have a problem we can talk with each other and I’m really happy to be part of this community.
Even with the limited resources that they have, the members have been willing to support the activities from their own resources. They’ve been very resourceful and very proactive in organising events publicising what they do. They’ve sent out fliers by email and they also have a website which is up and running. They have run three cultural events in the time that I have known them and they have been very proactive in mixing with other community organisations and working with the council to try to get the support that they need.
My work as a development worker is to support them, build their capacity and also to have a plan of action which can help the objectives they have set out.