The project is funded by Islington Council and supported by local councillors in Finsbury Park who want to give residents an opportunity to talk about life on the estate from their point of view as part of their commitment to inclusion and equality.
Much has been written about the estate (often in negative terms) by academics, journalists and politicians, but much less attention has been given to allowing residents to speak for themselves. The methodological approach for the project is oral history, which is a method associated with enriching our understanding of the past through interviews with participants invariably overlooked and invisible from the historical record. The aim is to interview around 50 residents for 1 to 1½ hours, inviting them to talk about their memories of the estate and how it’s changed, to hear the views of adults of all ages and backgrounds and to work with them to co-create previously unheard narratives of their perspectives of the Andover. We will also explore their experiences of the current cost of living crisis and perceptions of national and locally provided services, including housing, health, education and leisure.
We hope that the interview recordings will inspire a number of other creative projects. These will emerge from discussions with Andover estate residents but are likely to include photography, filmmaking, podcasts, verbatim theatre, storytelling, dance, drumming and craft-related projects.
In addition, the sound recordings will be archived in the University’s oral history archive and become a part of the history of the area, as well as inform policies and practices designed to benefit residents on the estate.
Interviews start in November 2022 and run until mid-2023. Our aim is to celebrate the project with a series of events, performances and exhibitions over the summer of 2023.
The Andover estate is in the Finsbury Park ward of the London borough of Islington. A local authority report, ‘The State of Equalities’ (2021), highlights the marked inequalities across the Borough and, according to local data, Finsbury Park is the most deprived ward in Islington with a higher % of people living alone, children with lower educational qualifications, lower occupational levels and lower household income than for London and nationally.
In the main, residents have not been able to talk about their lives, what it means to be an Andover resident, and what are the challenges as well as benefits of living on the estate. The use of an oral history method for this project will aim to redress this shortcoming.
The project was commissioned and funded by Islington Borough Council. The councillors who represented Finsbury Park ward, which includes the Andover estate, highlighted social isolation, particularly amongst women with children (93% of single parents in Islington are women) and older people with health issues (Islington:2021). They were also interested in capturing the experiences of people of different ages and ethnic backgrounds. Practically, the council hoped that as well as capturing the stories of residents, the project would reduce isolation, support activities across different groups of residents, and highlight issues of concern that would be of interest to the council.
The openness of the oral history method allows us to generate ideas and explanations from the interviews themselves. At the same time, some consideration of how we might make sense of the interviews is inevitable and necessary in order to think about the themes that will form the basis of the topics raised in the interviews. Given the social and economic inequalities referred to above that have been prevalent for the last 150 years in the neighbourhood, the project will explore the concept of class to unravel the experiences of those living on the estate.
Whilst it is important to highlight the differences between classes, taking account of the different interlocking sources of capital, there is another way of rethinking class through an understanding of the ways in which class differences intersect with other sources of inequality. Kimberle Crenshaw (1989) initially used the term intersectionality to highlight the distinctive experiences of black women in the 1980s, arguing against seeing black and women as separate identity categories. In this project, we will use intersectionality and, in particular, examine how class intersects with other sources of inequality.
To understand the diverse experiences of people living on the Andover estate, Finsbury Park, north London.
- To explore shared and distinct experiences and values amongst residents on the estate.
- To consider the views of residents in relation to ideas of family, nation, crime and immigration.
- To explore changes on the estate and neighbourhood over the last 50 years.
- To evaluate the provision of services to residents, in particular, health, education and housing.
The project will involve oral history interviews with community-based participants on the Andover estate in Finsbury Park.
The project will result in:
- A ‘Life on the Andover Estate’ project archive of the oral history interviews to be housed at London Met
- A project report
- Scholarly outputs, including peer-reviewed publications
The team brings together research expertise in oral history approaches, sociology and applied ethics. The project is led by Professor John Gabriel with Dr Alya Khan from the School of Social Sciences and Professions and the Centre for Life Writing and Oral History.
The academics are experienced oral history researchers, having previously conducted studies together exploring BAME students’ experiences on a health and social care course (Khan & Gabriel, 2018; 2022). Professor Gabriel is Chair of the Home - Oral History Society. Among his previous projects is the Lost Trades of Islington with Age UK. Dr Khan led the oral history study: Meanings of ‘Home’ amongst racially minoritised communities in London.
Find out more about the study
London Met hosts community event for oral history project on the Andover Estate
Professor John Gabriel and Dr Alya Khan with Gulser Rose Kaya presented findings from their ongoing community research project ‘Life on the Andover Estate’ at The Great Hall.
Making Histories Together – OHS Conference
Life on the Andover Estate: An Oral History Project, at the Oral History Society's Annual Conference.