Our Roots, Our Journey, Our City

Through oral histories of Sunderland’s Bangladeshi community, Our Roots, Our Journey, Our City tells the story of the community’s beginnings in Bangladesh, how they came to the UK, why they chose to settle in Sunderland, and their experiences along the way.  Funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, the project aims to create an inter-generational understanding of the community’s roots, culture and history, while also providing the wider population of Sunderland with an opportunity to learn more about the community. 

To undertake this project, 22 volunteers from a variety of cultural backgrounds were recruited.  Interviews with members of the Bangladeshi community have been recorded on video and audio, photographs and ephemera collected, and the everyday lives of the community visually documented.  From this material, a DVD and book are being produced, along with an exhibition that will detail a timeline of the community’s heritage, evidenced through sound, words and visuals.  While helping people to learn about the history of the Bangladeshi community, the project also provides material to assist with the care of people with dementia, through documenting common experiences, stories and reminisces.     

With the majority of the community hailing from Saidpur and other areas within the Sylhet district, stories of their lives in Bangladesh provide stark contrast with their current lives in Sunderland.  Though there have been many challenges to overcome – differences in language, culture, religion and everyday life – the project also reveals the common humanity that has enabled the community to live and prosper in Sunderland. 

However, there remain challenges to overcome. Racist incidents, barriers to employment and equal opportunities, and cultural differences have been reported during interviews.  Our Roots, Our Journey, Our City aims to identify why these problems exist, and asks how life could be improved for the Bangladeshi community in Sunderland. 




Janette Hilton

Rehena Sultana

Martin Booth

Abu Shama

Lesley Etherington

Syed Khalid Miah

Dave Kane

Luke Armstrong 

Kamareswaradas Ramanathas 


Samouka Dore

Nahida Akthar

Rehena Sultana

Dave Kane

Angela Kane

Luz Alejandra Llano Veliz

Hollie Dearing 

Abu Shama


Luke Armstrong


Sheikh Siddiq Miah

Syed Faruk Ahmed

Abdur Rouf

Women of the World

Dr Rick Bowler

Abdul Amin

Abdul Rofiq (Ashiq Miah)

Syed Abu Shama

Uttara Ghosh

Tafazzal Hussain

Margaret Melling

Steve Woodward

Syed Shohirul Bari

Grant Shearer

Joyce Worley

Carole Cotton

Syeda Khaled

Rehena Sultana

Carole Elliot

Sadik Miah

Syed Monir Ahmed

Habiba Choudhury

Mark Leadbeater

Mohammed Abdul Rofil

Syed Abdus Salam

Syed Jamal Miah

Abdul Latif

Syed Moklis Miah

Rohimunessa Khatun

Syed Khalid Miah Olid

Aklu Miah

Syed Tussadik Ahmed

Syed Afruz Hussain

Syeda Mohibun Nessa

Mohammed Abdul Rokib Sikdel


Janette Hilton

Terry Hilton

Living History North East

Martin Booth

Abu Shama


Young Asian Voices

Sylheti Translation and Research

Sunderland Winter Gardens Museum


Heritage Lottery Fund