Women on the Shelf – She Settles in the Shields

She Settles in the Shields – Untold stories of women in Pollokshields – Review by Tabassum Niamat.

She settles In the Shields is a collection of stories about the women who migrated from the subcontinent and other regions of the UK to settle in the lovely suburbs of Pollokshields.

At first glance I’m drawn to the cover picture and a sense of familiarity comes over not as I knew the lady but the essence of that era and the look seemed so similar to my own recollection of family pictures I had seen. The book itself has a lovely collection of photographs of the women in their early days here. The pictures are vibrant and capture the moments perfectly .There is a great sense of nostalgia when you look through these.

You can buy the book directly from Glasgow Women’s Library ~ http://womenslibrary.org.uk/products-page/bookshop/she-settles-in-the-shields/

Back to the actual stories, reading through them the sense of feeling at odds with a new culture and people comes across very heartfelt. I can only imagine how tough it would have been. Being born and raised in Glasgow I never considered myself anything other than Scottish but for the women who came here including my Mother life was very different. They came across the good side of humanity where the locals embraced the new comers but then you also had the very negative and ignorant side of the indigenous community who regarded these people as almost subhuman. One story in particular really was upsetting when one of the women in the book Zarina and her children had stones thrown at them by the local children. It beggars belief that this was possible then as I have never had to deal with such animosity. When I was much younger I did face the occasional racial slur but nothing physical or extreme as this. It isn’t all doom and gloom there are many moments in the book where you just giggle and feel a great sense of achievement for the women.

The women came from all different backgrounds and regions but when they came here they all had to face very similar hurdles. Language, Culture, lifestyle and even adjusting to accommodation in this foreign land. But they managed to overcome buy keeping hold of their own values and traditions. Food and fashion played an important part as it was there culinary skills and vibrant attire that fascinated the indigenous community. These women where resilient and coped magnificently well in the face of such change. They became Mothers, Teachers, Workers and Entrepreneurs. It is thanks to them the first generation of migrant women that we the second and third generation do not have to face what they went through. In such a short space of time they made this place their Home!

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