We are creating an archive…but exactly what does that mean?

What Awaits You in the MRSN Archives

I’m an archivist so I know I’m biased but archives really are wonderful. They tell all kinds of incredible stories and evidence so much of our cultures, businesses, heritage and lives.

However, some stories are more extraordinary than others. Some archives tell the stories of incredible ideas and amazing people. That is exactly what the MRSN archive is shaping up to do.

Over the past couple of months, we’ve been sorting through the collections of MRSN so that in the future, people who want to know what MRSN did, how it was created and who was involved, can easily discover all they need to paint that picture.

So, to give you a heads-up on the kinds of stories you can find in the MRSN archives, here’s a run-down on what we’ve got so far.

Governance: through minutes and reports you can find out why the organisation was started, who its figure heads are/were and the triumphs and struggles that shaped the organisation through its 20 year history.

Community Network Partners: since MRSN is a network of different refugee community stakeholders, there are lots of documents on its different groups as well as other communities that contribute to Manchester’s vibrant ethnic tapestry.

Projects/Services/Partnerships: here you can find out about some key initiatives undertaken or supported by MRSN such as the SWITCH project, the Somali Women in the Community Health Project with Haween, a Somali women’s support group. You can also find out about past Manchester Refugee Cultural Festivals (later named Shine); who performed, what it looked like, how they were organised and all sorts.

MRSN Switch project
Flyer for the SWITCH project. One of MRSN’s earliest community initiatives.
The poster for MRSN's very first Cultural Festival
The poster for MRSN’s very first Cultural Festival

The Refugee and Migrant Forum Manchester: with the minutes, reports and more you can find out about what the Forum did, who supported it, how the Manchester Refugee Charter came to be and how the Forum was monitoring Dallas Court House in Salford (where refugees registered for welfare and still do).

Newsletters and photographs: the newsletters will give you great summaries of what the Network was up to each year and the photographs are a wonderful cache of evidence and insight to the various activities and events run and supported by the Network.

Contextual information: we’ve also kept some documents which highlight the context and environment, both locally, nationally and internationally, within which MRSN was formed and later operated. Newspaper clippings, reports, leaflets and more paint the bigger picture of how MRSN was operated.

MRSN premises
MRSN finds one of its first homes. The organisation has moved around a fair bit but today resides at 129 Princess road M14.

I hope that gives you a broad understanding of what we’ve been up to but more importantly, I hope it has inspired you to learn more about this amazing organisation and its legacy.

Once it’s all gathered, organised, researched and stored properly you are more than welcome to come to Archives+ at Manchester Central Library and request it from the Ahmed Iqbal Ullah Race Relations Research Centre. We’ll be sure to give you a shout when it’s ready. Until then, if you’re interested in the project, get in touch!


Heather Roberts

MRSN Heritage project