report coverBirmingham Libraries
Library Services at Home for African Caribbean People – Report by Merrise Crooks, published by Birmingham Libraries in July 1996.

I produced a report on Library services for housebound Caribbean people, based on research carried out in Day Care Centres in Birmingham in 1996.

The Library service was failing to attract African Caribbean elderly people to their Library Services at Home facilities. The Library Services for the housebound had been in operation for nearly 10 years and out of nearly 2,000 users city-wide, there were only three members from the African Caribbean community. All attempts to recruit African Caribbean users had been unsuccessful. I was asked to carry out a five-month research project and provide a report to help the library recruit African Caribbean elderly people.

My approach was to go out into the community and introduce the books and materials to the African Caribbean elderly. I showed them books which reflected their culture and experiences, such as books on the Caribbean, the Bible, large print books, taped books, brightly coloured, attractive and interesting materials. Over the period of the research I recruited 30 new housebound users.

The Research Report was launched by Birmingham Libraries at a Seminar at The Library Theatre on 18th September 1996. Andy Hamilton OBE, famous jazz musician, and the Bluenotes provided some very enjoyable music for our entertainment.

Birmingham Libraries appointed a key worker to put into practice the report’s recommendation. The report and its recommendation are documented in the Good Practice Guide for Library Services for Older People.

Soho House Museum
Handsworth Birmingham
I provided consultancy services for Soho House Museum. The museum was keen to attract local community involvement and I provided advice and information on ways to do this.

Museum curator Val Loggie accompanied me into the community to meet local artist Roy Douglas, a woodcarver and sculptor. As a result of this meeting the museum curated an exhibition of Roy’s work. This exhibition was on show at the museum for some weeks and visited by schools, colleges, projects and the community.

I also provided the museum with a database of 200 names and addresses of key individuals working in arts projects in the area who would be interested in contributing to events at Soho House Museum.

book coverSave the Children (Scotland)
Playing in Harmony – an early years resource pack
Derek Bishton and myself worked with the Save the Children Fund (Scotland) and produced a multicultural Teaching Pack for use with the under 5s in Scotland. This Resource Pack involved the production of materials in a variety of languages including Urdu, Punjabi and Chinese.

Birmingham Education Advisory Service Raising African Caribbean Achievement (2000 – 2001)
I was commissioned by Birmingham Education Advisory Service to provide in-service training in a selection of Birmingham schools to support the developments of Raising African Caribbean Achievement (RACA). I worked at a number of schools, including St Francis J&I school in Aston, St Georges J&I school in Newtown, Foundry J&I School in Winson Green, and Heartlands High School. A wide range of support was provided, including literacy support, advice on books and materials, and access to community resources.

At Foundry J&I school I worked on a World War 2 project, West Indian Ex-Service Men and Women in World War 2. The aim of the project was to raise children’s awareness of West Indian participation in the second world war. This involved researching photographs and artifacts of ex-servicemen and women and we mounted an exhibition in the school. We were also very fortunate in having two West Indian ex-servicemen who came into school and talked with, and were interviewed by, the children. The children were able to write up the interviews and included their writings in the exhibition. This project and the exhibition provided a wonderful learning experience for staff, parents and children.

Birmingham Common Purpose
I am a graduate of Birmingham Common Purpose Programme 1998.
Common Purpose runs one-year leadership development courses for people at different stages of their career as well as a range of customised courses and special events.

Fighting poverty
Linking arms to fight poverty as part of the Jubilee 2000 coalition

Jubilee 2000 Coaltion
Jubilee 2000 Human Chain Event, Birmingham. Saturday 16 May 1998.

Jubilee 2000 Coalition was a partnership of more than 70 UK organisations and groups in other countries calling for the cancellation of the debts of the poorest countries in the world by the year 2000.

Jubilee 2000 organised a human chain around the city of Birmingham and linked hands at 3 pm on Saturday 16th May 1998 to ask the G8 leaders who were meeting in Birmingham to cancel the debts. An estimated 50,000 people took part in the event.

I worked as a member of the organizing team in Birmingham, as the administrator. The Events Manager was Mitch de Faria. The Jubilee 2000 Coalition team was based in offices at Carrs Lane Church Centre, Birmingham B4 75X.