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Recording family stories from Partition and other major historical events and beyond…

Recording family stories from Partition and other major historical events and beyond…

Collating the oral histories of families who came to Britain…could you help?

DOES your family have a story about how it came to be in Britain? Are you interested in documenting these stories? If so read on…

A new project is looking for volunteers to share their family stories and it’s hoped that some from the South Asian community will talk about Partition and how it affected them. The project also wants to hear from volunteers who can help put these stories together as well.

Hosted on Southampton’s radio station Unity 101, the 18-month project, called ‘The Journey – A Changing Southampton’ is being funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund and will involve learning the histories of local people who have travelled overseas, from India or other parts of the world to create new homes. The stories should be connected to Southampton, past or present. These elders and their families may have experienced traumatic historical events such as Partition in 1947, or the expulsion of Asians from Uganda under President Idi Amin in 1972.

Part of collating these stories requires building a team of researchers who will be trained in gathering these oral histories and setting out how these communities have had a positive impact on Southampton; 43 per cent of the local population was born to mothers of colour between 2020-2021, according to the Southampton Data Observatory.

Natalie Barrass – Volunteer Co-ordinator for
‘The Journey- A Changing Southampton’– in the Unity 101 FM studio

Ram ‘Kelly’ Kalyan, Unity 101’s Station Manager, said: “This wonderful city has welcomed and absorbed new people and families, changing its DNA in the process, until it has become this international city, a fusion of faces, faiths and cultures that overlap in our everyday experience. This project will help to discover these untold and hidden heritage stories to protect them for the future.”

This will form the basis for 25 hours of Unity 101, the community radio station that promotes music and culture for the Asian and ethnic communities of Southampton. Unity 101 will also feature stories from other countries, including Poland, Syria and Afghanistan, with a broader theme of leaving home.

The project will culminate with a permanent exhibition at the Sea City Museum, with the collection becoming part of the City Archives. As well as this, there will be a series of radio programmes and podcasts, telling stories of who these people were and who they have become.

Natalie Barrass, who is a videographer and digital reviewer for, is the projects’ communication officer and is involved in helping volunteers shape these family stories.

She told acv: “I’m responsible for bringing volunteers on to the project.”

She urges volunteers from all over the country to take part: “If you want to take part but you are not local, you can still be involved in research, content for the exhibition, script writing or social media.”

Southampton University, sixth form colleges and Southampton City Council are also working with the project in the hope that it will help people understand their neighbours and bring communities together by being proud of Southampton’s growing and changing identity.

Whether you are local or from afar, if you want to volunteer email Natalie at:

More about the project in this podcast/radio broadcast:

Lead picture: Dosa at the Southampton Mela ©Laurence Arbin

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Written by Asian Culture Vulture