Tell us about your organisation, how you started and what you do?

My organisation started out as a hobby; I was interested in WW1 and finding out if family from my Caribbean side (I am dual heritage) had served in WW1. As a child growing up, I wondered why there were no black or brown faces during Remembrance Sunday.

Fast forward to 2014, whilst serving as an army reservist on a battlefield tour to France to commemorate 100 years since WW1 began and paying respects to the fallen, that inquisitiveness was triggered once more.

My hobby began; I taught myself how to research and once I started to tell others of my passion, the interest grew into pop-up displays, stands of interest, presentations and power points. Using a blended mix of visual, audio and kinaesthetic approaches, the focus was on the human element and telling stories.

What has been your greatest achievement?

Too many to list really but here are a few;

  • Exhibition in Central Library, Wolverhampton and Wolverhampton University
  • Presented what I do to an audience of 500 people on a virtual platform
  • Presentation to patients at Rampton High-Security Forensic Hospital
  • Heath Park Academy School interest and ongoing projects
  • Becoming a consultant for others and putting on exhibitions
  • Delivering online presentations to military personnel and civilians

What is your experience of support received from WVCA?

From the word go when I sought help from WVCA on how to take WeSTTS further, Sharon was and is supportive of what I am doing, offering guidance, support and direction.

What is the most valuable lesson you have learnt about working with people in Wolverhampton?

Keep your vision, and focus on what you want to achieve as not everyone sees your vision and for those who do, it’s a bonus. Beware of ‘energy vampires’ who use your energy, passion and ideas. Those who will add value to your services will be drawn to you and vice versa. There is some amazing work going on out there; a lot is under the radar due to negative experiences but you can find the right people who are always willing to support and help.

What are some of the challenges you face and how can WVCA help to support your organisation in the future?

When you’re working full time as well as organising events, applying for funding is time-consuming, additional work, stressful and frankly, when your application is unsuccessful, it feels like funders are paying lip service. Applying for funding is difficult when your work, particularly if it is seen as niche, does not fit into the funder’s narrative. They give generic responses to unsuccessful applications. At some points, it is as though you’re made to feel like you’re going cap in hand to be turned away; it’s a display of power and a disempowering relationship.

I have self-funded my passion that has now become part of a CIC and I have been running WeSTTS since 2014/2015 and yet they say it’s not sustainable. Thankfully Sharon has been supportive when I was at a loss. A more step-by-step / peer mentoring / buddy approach may help when applying for funding.

Where can we find out more?

Contact: Sandra Patterson – We Shall Tell Their Story (WeSTTS)
Email: Sandra Patterson

Would you like to be featured in our Voluntary Sector Focus? Contact Sharon Nanan-Sen on for more info!

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