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June 2005
Village people...
Rehana Aziz is just one of the "stallholders in the Bradford Vision Village
Giant soap bubbles, penalty shootouts and hovercraft racing - these were just some of the things going on in the the Bradford Vision Village at this year's Mela. But the Village also provided a home for dozens of the district's community-based groups.

Bradford Festival + Mela Website

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The first Bradford Mela took place in 1988 . It is the oldest in the UK.

The word Mela comes from Sanskrit and means "to meet."

People come to Bradford from across the world to learn how to stage a successful Mela.

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Judy is from Bradford Nightstop, a charity founded in 1993 in response to the problem of youth homelessness in the city. She explains its role today: "We provide emergency accommodation for young homeless people while agencies find them more permanent accommodation. We have a network of hosts and a network of telephone contact people that work in their own homes making the link between the agencies and the hosts that have the beds. I was a host for ten years.

FroBubble-making in the Bradford Vision Village
Bubble-making inside the Bradford Vision Village

"We want to raise awareness because we also have an educational policy now. I did the initial research in Bradford to see if we needed one for Nightstop. Homelessness is now part of the secondary school curriculum. Some kids think leaving home is a big adventure so we try and talk about it as a reality and about what is available. We have tried to include people who have had these experiences but they are a very transient population and so it hasn't always worked but we did get them involved in a video we made."

From Bradford Nightstop poster
Bradford Nightstop helps young homeless people.

Judy says that the homelessness problem in Bradford is probably no worse than in any other British city. However she believes "there's a big hidden homelessness where people are sleeping on some other person's settee, and when that friend gets fed up with them they move somewhere else. It's like an iceberg. We only see the tip."

Helen Brand is one of a small band of Mythbusters. They go into schools to challenge misconceptions about different cultural and religious backgrounds. Helen says the Mela has given her the opportunity to network with other organisations. Such co-operation may help the development of the programme.

Helen Brand
Helen Brand, "Mythbuster."

If you think of archives you probably think of dusty documents, brown with age. This Is Our History, a new project launched by the West Yorkshire Archive Service in Bradford, couldn't be more different. Rehana Aziz explains: "This is a pilot project to get community groups interested in their history and to record it digitally...At the end of the project we are hoping to create a searchable CD-ROM for each group, and hopefully we will be able to put it on the internet where everyone will be able to learn about everybody else's history."

The project has been successful beyond all expectation - the original idea was to get four community groups to make CD-ROMs but currently 18 groups are involved in the project. People have got involved for many different reasons: "The Estonian Club in Bradford decided to take part because it was their fiftieth anniversary. Another group we are working with is the Howard Street Mosques Daycare Centre, a group of elders who just want to share their history and let people know about their stories. Some groups hope this project may be one way of bridging the inter-generational gap, working on a project instead of just talking about inter-generational issues."

Rehana adds: "One goal of the project was to get those hard to reach groups who are not traditional archive users and get them involved in recording their history. We're working with a group at the Milan Centre and it's a lot of elderly Asian women, it's a social group and they thought it would be a good opportunity to tell their story. We have another group from Tong Street and they are crocheting a map of Bradford. The main idea about this is to get people thinking about archives in a way that is accessible to them."

Not only does this very special village provide a lot of fun for all the family but it also brings together people from across Bradford!

The SIZZLING 2005 Mela!
Bradford The Musical Launch + Interview
Take a look back at the 2004 Mela!
If it's happening, we'll be there...

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