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Authority record

Burford, Barbara (1944-2010)

  • GB 1534 BB1
  • Person
  • 09/12/1944-20/02/2010

Barbara Burford was born in Jamaica in 1944. She moved to London in 1955 with her family, where she attended school and went onto study Medicine at London University. Barbara enjoyed a varied career with the NHS, the civil service and later as a consultant to various public-sector organisations. Barbara pioneered learning and social change throughout her career, and promoted equality in all that she did.

Barbara’s career in the NHS began in 1964. Initially, she specialised in postgraduate teaching hospitals, before leading a team at the Institute of Child Health and Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children. She ran the pulmonary vascular laboratory there for several years during the 1980s and her team was central to several breakthroughs in heart and lung transplant surgery for infants and children. Later in the 1990s, Barbara moved to Leeds to set up IT systems for the NHS executive, a key achievement of which being Positively Diverse – a programme of guidelines designed to help achieve equality in the NHS. From 1999 Barbara was the director of Equality and Diversity at the Department of Health, beginning many initiatives that are now well established. In 2005, shortly before her retirement, the University of Bradford appointed her Deputy Director of its Centre for Inclusion and Diversity. Barbara then set up a consultancy to carry on her mentoring and coaching work.

During her lifetime Barbara was also a writer, with a particular interest in science fiction and very engaged in feminist politics. She wrote plays, poetry, short stories and a novella. Her play Patterns was produced at the Drill Hall theatre in 1984; the same year that her poetry featured in A Dangerous Knowing – Four Black Women Poets. In 1986 she published The Threshing Floor, a novella and collection of short stories.

Camden Lesbian Centre and Black Lesbian Group

  • GB 1534 CLCBLG
  • Corporate body
  • 1982-1996

The Camden Lesbian Centre Project (CLCP) was founded in 1982, when several women from a loose social collective known as Kentish Town Lesbian Group (based at the nearby Kentish Town Women’s Workshop) recognised the need for a space expressly for lesbians. The group - all of whom were white lesbians - successfully applied for grant funding from Camden Council Women's Committee, and they began organising regular meetings and events with a view to establishing a centre for lesbians. In 1984, the Black Lesbian Group was founded as a support group for Black lesbians and lesbians of colour, who faced the tripartite barriers of homophobia, racism, and misogyny; the group used the term 'Black' in the broader political sense.

Having worked closely together, Camden Lesbian Centre Project and the Black Lesbian Group merged to form the Camden Lesbian Centre and Black Lesbian Group (CLCBLG) in 1985. Despite their differences and the fact that CLCP had originally excluded Black lesbians from its initial stages, BLG members felt the merger presented an opportunity to improve things for their community. The merger agreement stipulated that at least 50% of CLCBLG's staff and its Management Committee would comprise Black lesbians and that around half of the Centre's events and workshops would be for Black lesbians only.

From 1985-86, CLCBLG sought out premises across Camden. Although initially unsure of how the site would work for them, the group eventually applied for a change of use for a former retail space at 54-56 Phoenix Road, which they were granted amidst vocal resistance and homophobia from some local residents. The group signed the lease in September 1986. CLCBLG worked with Matrix Feminist Design Co-operative, Support Community Building and Common Ownership Design and Construct (CODAC) to renovate and alter the Centre before opening its doors to the public on Saturday 31 October 1987. From this point onward, the Centre was a social and political hub for many strands of London's lesbian community, becoming home to workshops, socials, seminars, discussion groups and other events. It became the base of groups like the Older Lesbian Network, Zamimass Black lesbian group, and GEMMA, the friendship network for disabled and non-disabled lesbians.

With successive and ever more severe cuts to grant funding from Camden Council, CLCBLG was forced to scale down its paid staff members and operations from c.1990 onwards. The Centre eventually wrapped up its operations in 1996, when the group was informed that they'd receive no grant funding in that year's budget.

Camden Lesbian Working Group

  • Corporate body
  • c.1980-1982

Camden Lesbian Working Group was a previous incarnation of the Camden Lesbian Centre Project (in itself a previous incarnation of Camden Lesbian Centre & Black Lesbian Group). The group was formed at Kentish Town Women's Workshop around the late 1970s or 1980, and they were originally named the Kentish Town Lesbian Group.

When Camden Council Women's Committee was established sin 1982, they adopted the group as a subcommittee and it became Camden Lesbian Working Group. Later that year, the group was again renamed, this time, with a name that would endure for longer: Camden Lesbian Centre Project (CLCP). As CLCP, the group successfully applied for Council funding, coordinated meetings and events, and began looking for premises to establish a physical centre for the local lesbian community.

In 1985 CLCP merged with the Black Lesbian Group, thus establishing Camden Lesbian Centre and Black Lesbian Group (CLCBLG). CLCBLG would secure premises at 54-56 Phoenix Road in February 1986; the Centre opened on 31 October 1987, and closed in late 1995/early 1996.

Camden Women's Bus

  • Corporate body
  • 1983-late 1980s

Camden Women's Bus was a mobile women's information and resource centre, funded by the Greater London Council. The centre comprised a double-decker bus, chosen because it offered a means of connecting with women who were otherwise unable to attend in-person meetings because of socioeconomic, health, caring and lifestyle-related barriers. Its organisers (and drivers) were Louisa John-Baptiste, Anna Birch, and Juleikha [surname unknown].

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