THE memories of long-time Leys residents will be documented in a pioneering project on the history of the estate.

From the start of this week, Time to Talk: Digital Storytelling in the Leys will see youngsters from the Leys Community Development Partnership (CDI) youth project, listen to and record residents’ stories.

The results will be turned into a series of short films which will be shown at the Museum of Oxford as part of its 40th anniversary celebrations.

Oxford Brookes University researcher Jeni Burnell, who first came up with the idea, said: “Some of the people involved have lived there for 40 or 50 years.

“Because they came when it was new and all beginning, it created this community everyone felt they had a place in. There was a real bond there and I felt inspired.

“This is part of a bigger project about how the arts can have an impact on people’s understanding of areas.

“Community spirit in the Leys is really high but there is a stigma. The project is a really nice way to make people think about it in a different way.”

Throughout this week workshops will be held in Blackbird Leys Community Centre training young people in film-making, interviewing and editing skills.

Each ‘storyteller’ will be interviewed for 30 to 40 minutes, and their narrative combined with pictures and video of themselves, the Leys landscape and objects that help explain the story.

At an official launch last Thursday at Oxford Museum, residents of Blackbird Leys and Greater Leys brought some of these support items along with them.

Ms Burnell added: “One lady used to raise money for sailors, and brought along her fundraising tin and sailors’ outfit. Another talked about a permit that brought her from Italy to the UK.

“Some of the young people have said ‘I really like my pillow. I like sleeping and feeling comfortable in my home’.

“We are trying to get people to not just think of objects you can carry, but for instance, a bus stop where you always meet a friend, or the new pool.”

Greater Leys resident John ‘Big John’ Humphries, 60, went along with his scrapbook chronicling years of unsuccessful attempts to charm Simon Cowell in ITV’s The X Factor.

He said: “I was in the first ever audition with my wife and kept going back. I was in the Oxford Mail again and again and again. This came around and I thought, why not?

“It’s a very good project. Some people there had lived there since the 1960s. The stories they had to tell were amazing.”

Time to Talk is being supported by Storyworks UK, which creates unique stories from personal narratives, and the Leys CDI Youth and Clockhouse Projects.

A Sharing Heritage grant has been given to the university by the Heritage Lottery fund to give the project a boost. The funding programme helps people across the UK explore, conserve and share their area’s history and culture.

From September 28 the stories will be shown at the Museum of Oxford as part of its 40 Years, 40 Objects exhibition, and in other local venues or events run by the CDI.

To get involved, call Jeni Burnell on 01865 482844.