An exhibition celebrates the contribution of diverse communities across Greater Manchester. 

Coming In From The Cold: Taking Centre Stage shines a light on personal stories of culture and migration from Greater Manchester's diverse communities, including many from the South Asian populations.

It runs at Manchester's Central Library until the end of March.
The exhibition marks the completion of a six year project which saw experts from the Ahmed Iqbal Ullah Education Trust support community members to collect and preserve oral and video histories interviews, photographs and papers. It was funded by National Lottery Heritage Fund. 
Groups from across Rochdale, Oldham and Manchester contributed to the project, which aimed to increase the presence of underrepresented communities, including Pakistani, Indian and Kashmiri, in the Centre's public archives. The archive is situated at Manchester's Central Library and is part of the Ahmed Iqbal Ullah RACE Centre. 
One of the projects, led by Dr Abdul Shakoor and the Multicultural Resource Centre in Rochdale, has seen older people from India, Pakistan and Africa interviewed about the literary and musical history of the Gujarati, Memoni and Kutchi languages.
Whilst Shabana Baig from Greater Manchester's Rape Crisis worked with the centre's South Asian women's support group to record survivors' accounts of sexual violence within the community. 

The voice recordings, which have been contributed anonymously, are part of a project called What Will People Say? They will not be available to listen to for 100 years to preserve anonymity, but you can hear accounts voiced by actors on the project's website 

Another of the groups that has contributed is Rochdale's Crescent Community Radio. Between their two completed projects - Kashmiri Lives and East African Lives - the project team has contributed over 60 oral histories interviews of forced migration to the archive. A future project will explore stories from the local Punjabi community.

A large piece of work undertaken by the Archive during the project has seen hundreds of pieces of paperwork and photographs relating to Pakistani community worker and campaigner Farhat Khan's high profile asylum application in the early 2000s. 

The items have come from both Farhat's personal collections and from the Cheetham Hill Advice Centre, where she has worked since 2000 as the centre's first Asian women's advice worker.

Asian Image:
Another large collection taken in during the project is that of Anwar Ditta, who made national headlines in the 1980s when she fought a Home Office decision that denied her Pakistan-born children the right to join their parents in their home town of Rochdale. After a gruelling six-year battle, Birmingham-born Anwar succeeded in getting the decision overturned.

Her archive includes papers and publicity material from the Anwar Ditta Defence Committee as well as photos, news articles, correspondence and evidence submitted to her appeal.

Asian Image:
AQ project by Skills4All in Oldham saw young people from global majority heritage, including South Asian, share their experiences of life during the Covid 19 lockdowns of 2020 and 2001.

Faheem Chishti, managing director, Crescent Community Radio, said: "The importance of oral history cannot be underestimated.  
"Recording oral history first hand is a vital resource which documents the lives of local residents in an historic context. Not only is this academically vital but, for younger members from these communities, it is a key part of understanding ’what makes them who they are’."
Shabana Baig, counselling manager and project lead, Greater Manchester Rape Crisis, said: “Recording powerful women's voices and stories on issues rarely covered in the South Asian community has created an amazing legacy for all involved”.
Safina Islam, head of Ahmed Iqbal Ullah RACE Centre and Education Trust, said: "Since 2018, funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund, we have supported over 70 different heritage projects from global majority community groups. And we hope to have taken in over 40 new archive collections by the time the project ends this month. 
"This will make the Centre’s collections of contemporary global majority community history and experience one of the most significant in the UK. 
"The Coming In From the Cold project has been important in that it has led to an increase in diversity of material in our public archives, both in terms of heritage as well as representation from each of Greater Manchester's ten boroughs. It is also important because the material was collected through projects that were led and shaped by the communities themselves."
Coming In From The Cold: Taking Centre Stage runs until 30 March 2024 at Central Library, St Peter's Square, Manchester M2 5PD in the lower ground floor link space 
Members of the public can make an appointment to view or listen to any of the Archives' collections by emailing or calling 0161 275 2920. The Centre requests 24 hour notice.