Based in Chapeltown, The Jamaica Society Leeds was founded by six first generation Jamaicans in 1977. The registered charity has championed the preservation, causes and heritage of Jamaican culture as well as flying the flag for Leeds and playing an important role in the development of the African Caribbean community for decades. One of the few Caribbean led organisations to own their own property, Jamaica House on Chapeltown Road has been seen as an essential stop for dignitaries, heads of state, artists and other VIPS visiting from Jamaica.
THE HERITAGE & CONTEXT
The story of Windrush and the arrival of first generation Caribbeans from 1948 are well documented and following the 2017 70th anniversary (as well as the controversy surrounding treatment of the so called ‘Windrush Generation’) has received elevated attention. Eulogy aims to go beyond the headlines and a singular anniversary. It will capture the story and legacy of an entire generation.
Most Jamaicans who settled in Leeds intended to stay for 5 years before returning to Jamaica. For most they married and raised families here; worked on the buses; for the NHS, in textiles and manufacturing, until retirement. For those who did not return to the Caribbean, they had been in the UK longer than they had spent in their birthplace. Most spent their final days here.
Today, with many in their 80’s and 90’s, the origins, traditions and socio-political histories of the city’s Jamaican community rest with this aging and ever diminishing generation. They hold the memories and experiences of a generation who arrived as young people.
Subsequent generations, are familiar with the Jamaican contributions to the UK. But what of their lives on a colony before they arrived? What of those early days in a strange land? What of their final years?
For their families, funerals are an increasingly frequent fixture. It is often only during periods of grief and loss, and at funerals themselves they get to know details of the history, heritage and lives of their loved ones.
Jamaican tradition, rites and customs still have a strong presence at those funerals. At Jamaican funerals, it is common practice for an elaborate printed order of service/funeral programme to be produced. Common to most programmes are the eulogy, also read aloud which captures the roots and life stories of the departed – much of which is a revelation of new information about someone many have probably known all their lives. That often includes;
- Never before seen photos taken as young men and women – taken in Jamaica for their arriving passports or shortly after arrival in the UK, typically at a local photo studio, and sent back home to Jamaica to show off their new lives.
- Real names – many first generation Jamaicans are known by childhood nicknames
- Early days - an insight into their lives in colonial Jamaica;
- Coming to Leeds – the journey; the welcome; challenges and triumphs; living conditions; employment, retaining culture, and life in Leeds
- Cultural traditions – the importance of family gatherings, music, food and more.
ABOUT THE PROJECT
Thanks to National Lottery players support through the National Lottery Heritage Fund, Eulogy will capture the individual, untold stories of the city's first generation Jamaicans, who arrived as young people and spent their last days here.
What's great about the project is that it is cross generational, multi platform, tells stories that anyone can relate to and reflects not only the DNA of Jamaican communities - but of the city too.
Eulogy’s centrepiece will be an exhibition of content taken from funeral programmes of the city’s first generation Jamaicans and collected by working closely, sensitively and respectfully with members of The Jamaica Society, local churches, personal contacts and other community networks.
Together, the photo and eulogy tell a rich life story. As a collection they will narrate the story of a whole generation.
Eulogy will not be mournful in anyway - moving perhaps, but certainly joyful and celebratory with a number of strands including;
An expertly curated multi platform exhibition from August 1st to September 1st 2019 which will feature
- Photography and digital renderings of first generation Jamaicans, taken before and on arrival in Leeds, included in their funeral programmes and accompanied by excerpts from their eulogies and other archival ephemera. The main exhibition will be staged at Leeds Libraries’ Room 700 in a Leeds city centre with smaller versions in community locations e.g. libraries and churches.
- An illustrative Jamaica Farewell map charting the journeys of the individuals in the exhibition, from their birthplace towns and rural districts of Jamaica to Leeds.
- An online gallery of the exhibition and project content
- A photo book of the project/exhibition content.
- Engagement events intergenerational sessions and workshops focusing on life writing, Jamaican funeral and remembrance traditions, and capturing family memoirs.
- Volunteer programme – volunteers will receive training to support the collection of oral history interviews with first and second generation Jamaicans, to carry out archival research and to develop A Jamaica Heritage Trail of publications in the city’s permanent collections of Leeds Libraries.
WHO WE WILL WORK WITH
We will work sensitively and respectfully with Jamaica Society members and local communities, and with our project partners and contributors including;
- Local community groups, organisations and churches as well as our extensive network of volunteers, members and contributors (local and national).
- BBC Yorkshire and BBC Radio Leeds
- Jamaica High Commission (UK)
- West Yorkshire Archive Service
- Leeds Libraries
- Leeds Museums & Galleries and MYLearning.org online teacher’s resource.
- East Street Arts
The Jamaica Society Leeds is seeking to engage an experienced and suitably qualified events management professional as part of our Eulogy project celebrating and commemorating the city of Leeds’ first generation Jamaican population.
Freelance from April 2019 to January 2020. Flexible working will be required, including evenings and weekends.
ROLES & RESPONSIBILITIES
The Heritage Events Coordinator will be required to:
Work closely with the Programme Director and Jamaica Society the Eulogy Events Coordinator will play a key role in the planning, coordination and delivery of a range of events as follows;
- 3 Community Call Out Events – staged in Chapeltown and surrounding areas to collect content for the project and in particular the exhibitions (April – May 2019)
- Engagement Events – as detailed above/to be agreed at venues to include Jamaica House, Chapeltown Library and other locations (June – November 2019)
- Eulogy Exhibition Launch Event – event for up to 200 people to launch the exhibition at Leeds Central Library in Room 700 (August 1st 2019)
- A Project Wrap Event to share project learning (December 2019)
- Deliver engaging professionally produced accessible events for a range of audiences in both community and public settings.
- Write comprehensive event plans in line with project outputs, health, safety and legal requirements and policies.
- Develop and manage risk assessments for events.
- Support booking of catering, props, AV and other suppliers
- Support the Programme Director’s engagement of event contributors
- Work with the Eulogy project team to schedule dates for events which will more than likely take place at weekends and evenings.
- Support the training and management of events and feedback volunteers. Co-ordinating venue preparations, admin and required equipment, event sheets, signage, catering and seating plans.
- Communicate via telephone and email with clients, internal departments and suppliers before, during and after the event.
- Work to a strict budget & communicating any changes to the Programme Director. Prepare events admin including co-ordinating a small team of volunteers during event set up, delivery and derig.
- Capture data for event follow up and evaluation.
- Ensure that all policies and procedures are adhered to as well as adherence to data protection, GDPR regulations and other policies concerning the collection, storage and use of personal data.
The Eulogy Events Coordinator will report to our Eulogy Programme Director & Curator.
You must demonstrate:
- Excellent communications skills engaging with all audiences in a professional, engaging and courteous manner.
- Exceptional attention to detail, organisational, event planning, delivery and management skills
- Ability to work to a brief, within budgets, under pressure and meet competing deadlines
- Strong understanding and/or experience of events management and co-ordination for this audience and in particular for engaging Caribbean audiences in community settings.
- Ability to work both on your own initiative and as part of a team where necessary.
- Knowledge and understanding of accessibility for a range of audiences.
- A culturally sensitive and heritage-aware approach to your work.
- Good working knowledge of Microsoft Office and file sharing platforms including Google Drive and Dropbox.
- Basic AV knowledge e.g. projector set up
- Current DBS certification and public liability insurance.
- Strong understanding of and/or awareness of our activities, and an appreciation of the heritage of the Jamaica Society, its members and community at large.
- Experience of working with a range of ages from older audiences to families with young children.
A fee of £3,400 including VAT is available for this work. You will be responsible for your tax and NI contributions.
E mail us if you’d like to arrange an informal chat with our Programme Director, Susan Pitter, and to send us your CV and a covering letter (no more than 2 pages each) to email@example.com telling us;
- Why you’re interested in the role what you’d bring to the Eulogy project.
- Experience relevant to this project, particularly those which involved working with Jamaican and other Caribbean communities and settings.
- Any significant periods you are unavailable between April 2019 – January 2020 due to other contracts and holidays.