A COLLECTION of films highlighting the contribution of Black, Asian, and Minority Ethnic people during the pandemic in Wales has been premiered in Cardiff. 

Filmed by four citizen journalists, the 21 films in the ‘We Are Wales’ series showcase the role that people of colour have played during the pandemic and their contribution to local communities across the south.

They feature a charity tackling food poverty in Newport, the support the Seventh Day Adventist Church provided in Swansea and the work of a sickle cell support group and how people  used their voices to support the Black Lives Matter movement which also rose to renewed prominence during 2020. 

Onismo Muhlanga, Lauren Clifford-Keane, Martin Williams, and Shazia Ali, have experiences ranging from youth work, theatre and the arts to journalism training, and shot and produced the films. 

Among those to tell their stories in the short films was Faith Walker of Friends of Cymru Sickle Cell and Thalassemia. 

The National Wales: Faith WalkerFaith Walker

The social enterprise supports families with members with Sickle Cell and Thalassemia, a blood disorder that is particularly common in people with an African or Caribbean family background, and was already operating before the pandemic as a support group. 

Faith said as families needed to shield during the first lockdown, due to the potential risk from Covid, the group swung into action delivering food parcels and “smiles” with many facing financial uncertainty and having to isolate. 

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The film also features the experiences of those living with sickle cell and how it has impacted them. 

In Swansea Lil Saunders, an elder in the Sketty Seventh Day Adventist Church, who first came to the UK from Jamaica while in her 20s, cooked meals for vulnerable members of the community. She also found as much as the food was appreciated, so was the human interaction by members of the community who were perhaps isolated even before the pandemic. 

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Lil said during the first lockdown the church was providing 120 meals a week as well as fresh fruit and vegetables to the Sketty foodbank and meals to the local Congolese community. 

In Newport Tariq Khan is filmed at the Feed Newport centre in the inner city Pillgwenlly area – a project which started to support those sleeping rough. 

“We then decided to concentrate on food poverty and opened this little food bank and it’s not just Pillgwenlly but the whole of Newport,” says Tariq who explains how the group went from struggling to provide for 15 clients to making 30 meals a day. 

The film provides statistics how at the start of the pandemic there were 153 households in Newport in temporary accommodation and 14 per cent of households assessed as unintentionally homeless and in priority need are from a BAME background. Food poverty increased by 26 per cent in Newport from 2018 to 2019. 

Such is the scope of support provided by the group it runs a special foodbank for parents of babies and toddlers as well as for refugees and asylum seekers. 

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Filmaker Lauren Clifford-Keane, said: “Through this project we have uncovered a huge range of untold stories from Wales - each featuring one common subject: an astonishing act of kindness delivered by non-white people.  

“Working with the people featured in We Are Wales has been truly inspiring and I’m so proud to have been able to tell their stories on a wider platform. I’d like to thank all of the participants for their time, involvement and generosity in this project.” 

Another of the filmmakers, Shazia Ali, told The National: “Born and raised in Swansea, and being from an ethnic and faith minority, I’ve always viewed mainstream news and storytelling from a unique lens.

“My passion for journalism is centred around telling real people’s stories, giving coverage to Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic communities, and presenting them as more than victims - they are victors."

The films were created by Ethnic Minorities and Youth Support Team Wales (EYST) in partnership with ProMo-Cymru and Race Alliance Wales and the filmakers were commissioned thanks to funding from the National Lottery Community Fund for Emerging Futures. 

Rocio Cifuentes, Chief Executive of EYST, said: “After an extraordinary 18 months for us all, we are thrilled to be able to highlight the incredible and undeniable difference that minority ethnic people have made in Wales. We hope that the films will help to showcase the fact that people from diverse backgrounds are not always victims but, important contributors to our social economy.”

The full collection premiered at The Chapter Arts Centre in Cardiff on Monday and will be shown in Newport at the end of this month. 

You can see the full collection of 21 short films at the We Are Wales website by clicking here.

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