By Jo Manby
As we saw in Part I, the Southern Voices (SV) archive collection relates to the establishment and development of the Manchester based organisation Southern Voices.
SV’s expertise was regularly called upon, as the organisation had a firm grounding in the issues around the developing world. A letter dated 2004 from the Migration Policy Institute (MPI) explains that the MPI was beginning a project with the Rockefeller Foundation to study diaspora organisations’ contributions to healthcare, education, gender issues, peace initiatives, justice and disaster relief, among other concerns and that they would like to hear SV’s viewpoint.
An email from 2004 from the Policy Officer at the Network of International Development Organisations in Scotland (NIDOS) asks for a discussion about research into barriers impeding the growth of minority ethnic international development organisations.
A large proportion of the correspondence folder relates to fundraising and applications for funding. Voluntary Action Manchester provided grants; as did the Methodist Relief and Development Fund, the Department for International Development (DfID), and Christian Aid.
Manchester Community Chest money was available at times, for example offering to fund a piece of research into whether there was a need for a cross-cultural women’s network in Manchester. Christian Aid writes to SV regarding Regional Grants to Development Education Partners, inviting applications for up to £2.5K for Formal Sector Development Education work.
SV did indeed set up a Women’s Network; in the archive is a flyer inviting members of the Manchester community to a Women’s Cross-Cultural Network Day. A later document from 2004 invites people to the next Women’s Voices International Women’s Week Theme Group to be held in July of that year. A significant proportion of the meeting minutes and project planning documents relate to the Women’s Network.
In terms of SV’s own organisational development, there is a section on its legal status, containing documents such as those relating to registering SV as a Company Limited by Guarantee, and a draft Memorandum and Articles of Association from 1993. Budgets, project proposals and planning documents give a sense of the fluctuating financial status of the organisation. Documents that tell us about decisions to create subcommittees are equally of interest, as the board members and workers strove over the years to make the organisation a success on a tight budget. Other items record the recruitment of new personnel and requests for time off from a heavy workload.
In the latter years of SV, questions were asked about whether SV was still ‘needed’. A letter dated 19 April 2009 assesses this with an update on the organisation’s website and the kind of infrastructure support required.
One document that stands out among these fascinating testaments to the history of this important Manchester organisation is the letter dated 9 October 2009, pp’d from, variously, the archivist from Manchester Archives and Local Studies, the County Archivist, Councillor Afzal Khan of Manchester City Council, and staff from AIU Centre, asking for SV’s response to a survey of archives and historical material relating to Manchester’s South Asian communities. The letter notes that any annual reports, newsletters, or other publications sent to Manchester Archives and Local Studies will be preserved and made available to the public.
And here it is – a wonderful, detailed collection of the day-to-day documentation of Southern Voices, available to students, researchers and the public to view by appointment, complete with a searchable database.