Working history project boosted by cash award



A project to capture and preserve the working history of Norfolk is just one of the varied projects funded by Red Nose Day Community Cash.

Volunteers at the Wise Archive record stories and anecdotes from the lives of the county's workforce in times gone by – from rubber planters in exotic countries to real-life spies – and make them available online to everyone.

Their aim is to prevent an important part of the county's social history from being lost forever and the archive contains tales from staff at some of Norwich's most famous names, including Colman's and Jarrold.

Last year the archive, which is run by a team of around 12 volunteers, was awarded £1,000 by Red Nose Day Community Cash to continue its efforts to record the history of the common – and not so common – worker.

And chairman Pauline Weinstein encouraged other groups to follow the archive's lead in applying for a grant of between £500 and £1,000 to support community work for people in Norwich. 'Without the funding we could have done only a very small part of what we have, so it has been very important to us,' she said. The Wise Archive was born following the closure of many well known businesses in Norwich in the 1980s, and the fear that the memories of their employees' times there, just like their jobs, would be lost forever.

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'We became aware of how important people's working lives are to them, particularly men who had gone into a job when they left school and expected to have that job for life,' said Mrs Weinstein.

'There was a lot of distress, and we realised that there is very little recognition for the value of people's working lives. People do all sorts of amazing things.'

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Volunteers visit contributors and record their memories, which are then transcribed and added to

Stories have also been contributed by Norfolk people who have worked abroad or since left.

The archive has been growing steadily over the past five years, but more contributors are being sought – as are volunteers to help record their stories. 'We've had two people tell us they were spies and one who was a rubber planter. We have contributions from all sorts of work: agriculture, nursing, social work and engineering,' added Mrs Weinstein. 'So many people have done ordinary things in fascinating ways.'

To apply for Red Nose Day Community Cash, go to

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