Langley resident Jacqueline Smith has been fascinated by history since she was a child. So, when the chance to volunteer on our Overspill project about her home estate came up, she grabbed it with both hands.

“I’d done a course about the history of Middleton and I was keen to do more,” she said. “When I heard about the Overspill project, I really wanted to get involved. I’ve always loved history even as a kid,” Jackie said. “I always said that I wanted to be an archaeologist and left a time capsule in every house we ever lived in!”

After completing oral history training with the Ahmed Iqbal Allah Resource Centre, based in Central Library, Jackie began collecting stories from residents. She interviewed people in a variety of settings including a luncheon club, residential care home and creative writing workshops. She also committed her time to helping with the catering at two community events and filled care packages that were sent to participants.

Jackie’s involvement in capturing an oral history was documented in the exhibition at the People’s History Museum, which was a proud moment for her.

“It felt really good to be in the exhibition,” Jackie said. “I loved being at the launch event too – seeing our exhibition and looking at all of the others was great.”

While the project benefited from over forty hours of Jackie’s time and effort, she also experienced significant personal gain from her involvement, after a lifelong struggle with her mental health.

“When I first started with this project I had been quite poorly. I hadn’t been out the house much as I was suffering with intermittent blindness - a side-effect of my medication. But getting involved in this project was such a great boost for my confidence. The first thing I did was attend training in Manchester City Centre and that was a really big thing for me. The training I have done has been really good for me and is something that I can add to my CV,” she said.

Mother of three, Jackie, who also volunteers locally at Bowlee Pavilion. She now hopes to continue her volunteering at People’s History Museum and has been advised to contact them and apply after lockdown.

“I will always have mental health issues, but I’ve learnt to cope with it” she said. “This project has let me live my dream, working in history and getting out and meeting people. It’s really helped with my confidence. It’s been an amazing experience.”

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