From the archives: Jacari in the 1970s/80s
Updated: Jan 17, 2022
Sadly we don’t have many items in the Jacari archives from the 1970s and 1980s so this is a period we know little about. Below are the items that we do have.
We have heard from some of our alumni who volunteered for Jacari during the 1970s and 80s and they have given us some interesting personal accounts of Jacari during that period. One of our alumni was on Jacari’s Committee in the early 1970s and recollects that there was some internal politics within Jacari about the direction of the society. This could explain the move away from activism and campaigning, with the focus becoming the immigrant teaching scheme. Another volunteer involved in the early 1970s said “I don’t remember much political activism – but I do remember the reading program”. One of our alumni who volunteered for Jacari in 1981 remembers “Jacari, however, was then apolitical, concentrating on tutoring pupils and organising activities and excursions for them”.
Other volunteers involved with Jacari in the late 1970s and 1980s recall tutoring children, going on outings and helping out with kids’ events and activities. Jane Shillaker volunteered in the late 1970s and told us "I became aware of Jacari at Freshers’ Fair and decided to follow it up from no greater impulse than it sounded a nice way to volunteer. I was put in touch with a secondary school and met there with a teacher who referred a young girl to me. She must have been about 12, a shy, pretty girl with very limited English. She was from Sylhet in Bangladesh and had only moved to England relatively recently. I duly went round to her small Victorian terraced home in East Oxford once a week and did what I could to help her with her English."
Duncan Taylor volunteered for Jacari in the early 1980s and told us "I remember that I visited an extended Asian family in their home in east Oxford. It was a significant occasion when I came to help a young girl reading and the whole family would gather in the small room and smile and nod approvingly throughout the session... we took three of the children for the day to my parent’s farm. It was a first for everyone. We also produced a pantomime which we put on at some community centre."
Items from the archive
1971 race relations projects (pictured centre)
This sign-up form for summer vacation projects tells us that it was the fourth successive year for these projects, which involved running children’s play centres and conducting research in deprived areas of towns and cities in collaboration with local community relations councils. The 1971 projects were in East Oxford, Swindon and Halifax, Yorkshire.
1975 Jacari Immigrant Teaching Scheme Constitution (pictured left)
This is a really interesting item in our archive as it provides details on how Jacari was run during the 1970s. It also indicates that Jacari’s sole focus was on the teaching scheme by this point, rather than their campaigning focus of the 1950s/1960s. Jacari’s official name was “The Jacari Immigrant Teaching Scheme” so they no longer used the acronym JACARI (Joint Action Committee Against Racial Inequality). It states “the aims of the society are to promote racial harmony through education and other available means and to give educational help to those who need it.” It also outlines the process for electing a committee and their responsibilities for running Jacari.
1976-7 Immigrant Teaching Scheme Accounts (pictured right)
One of the few documents we have from the 1970s is some accounts for the teaching scheme dated 1976-7. Expenditure for Michaelmas term 1976 included a Christmas party and youth club. Hilary term 1977 mentions a Christmas camp and “activities”. These accounts also show how Jacari’s income came from various colleges.
1980 information about Jacari’s immigrant teaching scheme
This detailed information explains how Jacari’s immigrant teaching scheme worked at this time. Students volunteered to help children aged 4 to 19 “overcome the difficulties they have in dealing with an unfamiliar language and culture”. The focus seemed to be on “young Asian kids” from primary school age to sixth formers needing help with A-levels. There is a real emphasis on building confidence and helping children achieve their potential, reflecting the aims Jacari still has today. Each school had a Jacari rep who helped to link volunteers to children. They also arranged outings for children and helped to run an adventure playground and Asian youth club. Jacari lunches took place every Thursday at the Voluntary Service Centre on Alfred Street so volunteers could get together and exchange ideas and experiences.
A second document from 1980 states that over 200 members of the University and Polytechnic were involved with Jacari - this is one of the earliest references we have that Jacari volunteers came from Oxford Brookes, previously Oxford Polytechnic. It also mentions that Jacari worked closely with the Oxford Council for Community Relations, helping at a Saturday School. It mentions taking the children on outings to London, Cotswold Wildlife Park and Southsea and having an “enormous Christmas party” and summer garden party at LMH which had a magician and punting on the Cherwell. It also mentions the children’s Christmas camp at the farm (see below).
1986 Children’s Christmas Camp
A letter from Tom Solomon appealing for helpers for Jacari’s Christmas Camp held at an Oxfordshire farmhouse. The camp was for children who were being tutored by Jacari who would be bused there every day and do fun activities with the student volunteers and then taken home at the end of the day. Student helpers could stay at the farmhouse overnight so there was also a social aspect and the enticement of a log fire and evening entertainment. They even used the University mini-bus for transport!
1989 Freshers’ Fair information sheet
This is a brief explanation of the teaching scheme with an attached sign-up form. At this time it was known as the “home teachers scheme” and called for students to volunteer for one to two hours a week to help local children with reading, writing and speaking English; with Maths and Science; or with preparation for exams. The scheme at this time was therefore not just for children who use English as an additional language, in fact many of the children were from Asian families and were born in Britain.