09 December 2015

M-unit, a local group of children, young people and adults in Carlisle, Cumbria who identify with or are from a black or minority ethnic (BME) background, is celebrating new funding from the Trust. The group has been awarded £20,800 from People’s Health Trust, using money raised by HealthAble through The Health Lottery, to celebrate the history of Carlisle’s BME community.

Sean Scullion, M-Unit member said:

“We started as a small group of young people who wanted to meet up as we shared a mixed cultural heritage in an area which does not have much ethnic diversity. That was nearly 10 years ago, we are now older, working in different professions and the diversity in the area is much greater. However we always remember the positive impact of M-Unit and wanted to find out more about the people in Carlisle history who were from a non-white background and who made a positive impact across the city".

Members of the M-unit youth group identified a lack of black or mixed race role models,  living or working in Carlisle, other than their own parents.  After some research, they discovered that the first black policeman in Britain, John Kent, was once stationed in Carlisle. The project aims to build on this research and record the positive heritage of Carlisle’s BME community - recognising and celebrating the stories and active roles people have played as part of the Carlisle community.

This includes positive role models such as the first black footballer to play for Carlisle United. It also includes recording the stories of ordinary people in the community such as shopkeepers, teachers and restaurant owners who have all played a part in making Carlisle a diverse place to live.

Only six percent of Carlisle’s population is made up of people from a black or ethnic minority background, and so M-unit aims to ensure they are not disconnected from their own heritage and are not isolated. It gives people a safe space to explore their own cultural heritage, celebrate their differences and promote awareness of the different cultures in their community.  

Niall Mcnulty, Project Co-Ordinator, said:

“We hope this project will raise awareness of the important role BME people have played in Carlisle, bringing together the community.

“We also hope that young people from a BME background, will be able to share in the local heritage and recognise that although the BME population is relatively small, it is very much an active part of the Carlisle community.

“During Black History Month a few years ago my mum and I went to an exhibition about Carlisle's Black History. While it was very interesting, almost all of the exhibition focused on the local links with the slave trade and the relatives of slavery. My mum is from Mauritius and proud of her heritage, and felt that this exhibition didn’t do much to celebrate Carlisle’s Black History. This project aims to put this right.”

M-unit is delighted to have secured the grant and is now looking for people to come forward and help with the project.

The recorded stories, photos and archive footage will be put together into an interactive display which will tell the story of Carlisle’s black history. The group aim to exhibit their work during Black History Month next year. 

Read more news from the Trust here

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