Unity is strength

Pauline Andam


My idea behind this group was to get people from all parts of the Caribbean together and also Christian people but from all denominations and I believe that, um, community is strength and collectively there’s always something that people can find in common with. And with these ladies it is coming from the Caribbean. Yes, they call different things different things, but their experiences are kind of the same. It’s nice for them to be able to meet in the kind of social setting where they can talk and be free. 

I’ve always been intrigued about how people come from a lovely sunny country and how they’ve come to another country. What they must have been feeling! I mean, I was born here, I was born in Cardiff and some of the things that I’ve had to go through. I was born here, how on earth did they cope? When I was a bit younger and I lived in Southampton I set up the Theatre Group. We told stories from, um, an African Caribbean viewpoint and being black British. I also worked with a group of elderly ladies. I was a tutor; it was called, um, the Black Heritage Group. I went on to write a film script called “Me Reach”. I wrote about one girl’s experience when they first come to the country.  On the way to going to the barber shop where her uncle was, what she encountered.  In that journey you had people shutting the door, the Teddy Boys, her being chased until she reached her final destination. What I was trying to show in that film is through life we will have difficulties, but if we are really determined we will reach our destination.  I got even more involved with the ladies by doing the dignity study. Listening to them, talking to them, it really touched my heart, because they come over to this country when they were young full of life. They gave everything into Cardiff and their input, it is absolutely amazing, all that they put into this country, the hardships. And now they’re, that they’re older, retired, it seems like that they, you know, nobody wants to know.  
It is good to hear from the ladies themselves how they want to be cared for. Because I think that society has this one size fits all.  That you have take a person as an individual, not as like African Caribbean, African Chinese. You have to take them as a individual.  I mean I was talking to one lady who, um, she says people see her, and they automatically think, aw, because she’s African Caribbean she’ll like her rice and peas. But she says she doesn’t like rice and peas.  She says, you know, she’s married to a..a Welsh man and she likes English food, you know.  People that are in the care home, as well, maybe they don’t eat that food, but they have to eat it.  

As a society and, Wales, have to look at individuals, what they like from their religious, cultural back ground and everything else and we are having, um, an ageing community and I think that, um, the government if they’re really serious they should start doing something about it.  Seeing the ladies laugh and they talk about home is just absolutely wonderful to me.  If I can put in place something that is simple to wear, get out the house, you know have a laugh for a couple of hours, eat some food that they don’t have to cook, you know, um, then it makes my day. It makes my day when I see them together and smiling, talking about back home. I do have a passion for older people and its funny, cos growing up I said, I’d never work with food and I’ve never worked with older people and those are the two things (laughs) I’ve ended up working with. So you know, Gods got a plan. You, you , know. Sometimes it’s not what you would have had in mind but, you know, I suppose God has got a sense of humour and he’s looking down saying “Growing up, you said you wasn’t gonna do this”, (laughs) but I love it.