Introducing our Trainee Library and Archive Assistants

The Ahmed Iqbal Ullah Education Trust has recruited two new Trainee Library and Archive Assistants for our project supported by the National Lottery Heritage Fund. The trainees appointed are Sonbal Khokhar and Kadija Ollow who are keen to pursue a career in the heritage sector.

This three-year programme aims to work with Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic community groups to develop and deliver heritage projects, as well as increase their representation in Greater Manchester archive collections. The trainees will support the project by managing newly collected archive material as well as engaging with these communities. 

The trainees will be working towards a qualification in Archive and Records Management funded by the project. As an outcome, the Centre aims to support ongoing work to diversify the heritage sector in which Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic staff are currently underrepresented.

We spoke to our new trainees to find out how their first week on the job went…

Kadija Ollow

Can you tell us a little about yourself?

Hi, I am Kadija, one of two recently appointed Archive Trainees working on the Coming in from the Cold Project. I’m excited to be part of this project as the aim of the work is to increase the representation of diverse populations living in Greater Manchester and helping groups to develop and deliver heritage projects.

My own background and interests have provided me with an insight into the importance of life stories, preserving them and celebrating heritage and diversity.

What have you been up to?

During my first week, I have been working on the Institute of Race Relations archive, learning how to retrieve material as well as repacking the collection. I’ve also met the wider team and learnt what all the different departments do with the hope of connecting with their work in the future. 

What else will you be working on?

I will be working towards gaining an Archives and Records Management qualification from University of Liverpool. I believe the practical aspect of working directly on the project whilst gaining a qualification will be a great opportunity to learn and develop more library and archiving skills.

I hope to blog, record my experiences and share the work I will be undertaking, so keep your eye out for my journey!

Sonbal Khokhar

Can you tell us a little about yourself?

 I am 23 and from Manchester. I have a Master’s Degree in Museum and Gallery Studies and a background working with BAME communities within the city.  

During my studies, I have had the opportunity to volunteer at Manchester Art Gallery during the New North South partnership programme to document the histories of Manchester’s South Asian communities. I also have experience working at Touchstones Rochdale Museum and Art Gallery.

What have you been up to?

During my first few days, I have been introduced to the Centre, its team members and collections. I have also received training on archive retrieval processes, repackaging newspaper clippings from the Institute of Race Relations collection and learnt about the Centre’s digital outputs.

These interactions have already shown me the depth of the collection and significance of my role as an archives trainee to ensure that Manchester’s diverse community history is preserved and shared.

What are you most looking forward to?

I look forward to working with not only the special collections here at the Race Relations Resource Centre but also engaging local communities with our material at events and workshops.

I hope to conduct my time here as a trainee with the intention to shift current archiving practices to become more inclusive of BAME communities that should have authority over narrating their own histories.

As my skills and research develop, I will visit this space again with more blogs to share!