Gemma Hollingshead

Caribbean through a lens: a woman’s view

February 28, 2013 :: 4.31pm

In the run up to International Women’s Day on 8 March, and as part of our ongoing work around diversity, St Mungo’s is proud to be hosting an exhibition this week, organised with the National Archives. Monica Wilson, our Pathways to Employment Vocational Guidance Worker, explains more.

“We have an active Black and Minority Ethnic Focus Group at St Mungo’s, one of five diversity focus groups within the organisation which meet bi-monthly to help shape the strategic direction of our inclusion practices.

I am a member of both the BME Group and the Women’s Group. So when staff from the National Archives approached us about hosting an exhibition as part of their programme to have more of their archive images out on view in the community, then we were excited to be involved.

The result is “Caribbean Through a Lens: A Woman’s View”. This exhibition is a selection of 100 photographic images from The National Archives’ collection of Caribbean images, from the Ministry of Information and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

The images have been organised into four themes central to St Mungo’s work with people who have experienced homelessness:  

  • Home
  • Work & Education
  • Family & Friends
  • Portraits

Spanning nearly 100 years of Caribbean colonial history, the images portray the day-to-day lives of women from this region during the 1880s to the 1960s.

The parallels between these snapshots of life then, and the lives of women today are striking. My favourite is the photograph of the ‘Interview at the Basseterre Health Centre, St Kitts’. My mother was a nurse and I can relate to the picture.

The exhibition, in its four sections, will be on view in four of our London housing projects from International Women’s Day on 8 March.

Each hostel or supported housing project is planning to use the exhibition differently – as an opportunity to invite in members of the community for an event, or for an event with residents, and very much as a talking point for discussion about how women’s lives, and particularly those from BME groups have changed, or perhaps not, over the last century.

We are grateful to the National Archives for working with us, and hope that the exhibition does bring people a different perspective and life, and brings some inspiration from past lives for our own today.”

The images can also be viewed online by searching ‘Caribbean through a Lens’ on Flickr, or by visiting the website

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