The African Caribbean Elders Society was established by Pauline Andam many years ago, as she explained to Roiyah a few years ago. For this study, we have co-produced two key pieces of work.
In this project we have experimented with several participatory methods of engagement and the aim will be to critically reflect on the utility and value of methods and activities as linked to fostering community engagement. In this case study we have sought to explore a number of ways in which the arts can be employed in research with marginalised groups to not only produce knowledge about their lives, but to do so in ways that fosters engagement and creates spaces and ‘moments of connection’ with the potential to reveal and contribute to creating important counter-narratives and messages. In preparation for the case study launch event, we worked with local arts practitioners and ACES members to explore how best to engage meaningfully and perhaps as importantly to capture the process of engagement and people’s reflection on our engagement with them. The workshop was rooted in the question ‘What animal are you today?’ and the creation of two-line poems rooted in each person’s reason for choosing their animal. The workshop was underpinned by a energy boosting set of exercises by Lynette Webbe, and the development of a chorus line to each two-liner produced by Keith Murrell. Adeola Dewis, Pauline Andam and I facilitated where necessary. The film captures the process, as well as provide a moment of reflective evaluation from people who attended as well as contributed to the case study launch.
We went back to the ACES to present the film and capture their responses – an aspect of engagement.
Understanding wellbeing, migration and diasporic framings is a central component of our case study and one key way in which to engage in current debates in wellbeing research. We are interested in exploring notions, understandings and the manifestation of wellbeing as experienced by Caribbean elders. A key element of this are the social networks and bonding (as well as bridging) capital that underpins notions of individual and collective wellbeing. Given our focus, such understandings are underpinned by stories of migration, settlement and living and ageing in the UK. Facilitated by community artists and drawn together in part by a film and blog, the workshops covered:
· Animals/Poems – what animal are you today? (The original question we asked back in June 2014)
· Memory Items: reflecting on life in UK
· Ole time people used to say: reflecting on like ‘back home’
The workshops have been captured on a blog developed by Adeola. As she writes,
As the purple balloon introduced by Lynette, moves from one member to the next, each sing or state the title of a song that holds meaning and triggers specific memories. This is just one of a series of conversations with this group.
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