Project Update: We Wear Heritage

Marika Mason shares the latest news from the We Wear Heritage project, which collects, preserves, and celebrates the traditional attire and costumes of Brent’s diverse communities.

By Marika Mason, Project Coordinator

What is We Wear Heritage project?

The We Wear Heritage project is funded by The National Lottery Heritage Fund to explore, share and preserve the traditional clothing, costumes and textiles of Brent’s diverse communities. Our aims are three-fold:

  1. Involve a broader range of people in heritage activities in Brent.
  2. Make sure heritage will be identified and better explained.
  3. Enable people to have developed skills.

Volunteers are Essential

Volunteers are at the heart of this heritage project. We are collaborating with two organisations to enable young people to learn new skills, gain practical work experience, and produce digital products about traditional clothing and textiles for depositing in the Brent Museum’s archives.

Our first collaboration started at the beginning of this year with BANG Edutainment, where we recruited and supported up to seven young volunteers. These young people completed 60 volunteer hours where they gained oral history skills, interviewing elders about the clothes they wore and sound recording and editing. They also shared the heritage skills they gained with their peers in creative heritage sessions. They now plan to visit the Brent Museum to examine some of the collections stored in the archives and hope that some digital outputs (such as sound clips they produced) will be eligible to be deposited in the archives.

Our second collaboration is with fashion students from the University of Westminster. These student volunteers are scheduled to join us at the end of April to support the We Wear Heritage community projects.

Skilling Up for the Heritage Sector

From January to February 2024, over 40 organisations participated in the heritage capacity building programme delivered by the Eastside Community Heritage. This training enabled Brent organisations to develop fundamental heritage knowledge and skills in order to apply for funding to the We Wear Heritage grants scheme or The National Lottery Heritage Fund for their own heritage projects. These community organisations then applied for heritage projects where people could learn, enjoy and care about heritage within their local communities.

Community Grantees

Following the heritage skills training, we invited organisations to apply for a community grant to deliver their own heritage project focused on traditional garments, costumes, or textiles. We sent out 51 grant application packs and received back 21 applications. Our grants panel, made up of community representatives and Brent Museum experts, awarded 12 grants averaging £7,000 to the following organisations:

  1. It’s the Best of Brazil Community – Brazil’s indigenous outfits
  2. Afghan Association of London – traditional Afghan clothing
  3. Kojo Baiden – African textiles
  4. Brent Chinese Association – traditional Chinese clothing
  5. WISE – traditional Caribbean clothing
  6. Community Stars – Goan Indian clothing and costumes
  7. Iraqi Welfare Association – Iraqi Historical Costumes
  8. My Romania Community – traditional Romanian clothing
  9. Tamil Association of Brent – Tamil wedding costumes
  10. Higher Potential – Caribbean youth style influenced by music
  11. Reviving Links – traditional Somali Hido Iyo Dhaqan clothing
  12. Inspired – Iranian traditional garb.

Making a Difference

We are cascading the monitoring and evaluation requirements of the Heritage Fund to these Community Grantees so they are capacity-ready for future heritage projects. Recruiting an evaluator will help us gather evidence of change­– what’s working in the We Wear Heritage project, what’s not working and what we can do better.

Selecting a Menu in the Heritage Café

Besides the project work of the Community Grantees, we will organise and deliver outreach heritage sessions for local groups to participate in practical, hands-on heritage activities. We are calling these outreach heritage sessions – Heritage Café – where groups can choose from a menu of up to eight workshops for people to learn about techniques related to traditional clothing and textiles.

Workshops will range from textile block printing, hand weaving, rag rug making of recycled materials, head wrapping, beading, batik printing, and mural painting. The Heritage Café will enable us to widen the involvement of more Brent residents in heritage.  

Call to Action

There are three ways you can get involved in the We Wear Heritage project:

  1. Join the We Wear Heritage volunteering team.
  2. Sign up for a Heritage Café workshop to be delivered for your service users or members.
  3. Participate in one of the above community projects funded by We Wear Heritage.

To get involved, email us at support@cvsbrent.org.uk today!

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Project Update: We Wear Heritage

Marika Mason shares the latest news from the We Wear Heritage project, which collects, preserves, and celebrates the traditional attire and costumes of Brent’s diverse communities.

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