Designer for ‘Fighting Sus: Riot, Rebellion & Repeal of the Sus Laws

Front cover of Talking Blues (1978)

Front cover of Talking Blues (1978)





Design brief for Fighting Sus


Why was a Victorian vagrancy act, intended to prevent ‘begging, showing wounds’ and ‘telling fortunes’, used to criminalise minority groups in the 1970s and 1980s? Who brought a stop to it? Who is under suspicion today?

On the Record are seeking a design partner to help them to create a publication, website and learning resources for Fighting Sus: a youth-led performance and oral history project recording the history of the sus laws and related campaigns up to the repeal of sus in 1981.


Aims for Publication:

 The key purpose of the resources is to share the history of the sus laws and their relevance to policing today in a variety of formats, accessible to a wide audience including young people, community groups, teachers, school students and researchers.

We are looking for a designer who can provide overall project branding and layout of the items listed below.

Leaflet & programme

A promotional leaflet for the project’s final performance (scheduled 1 September 2018) for print and digital distribution. A simple programme for the performance event (1 two-sided page/poster) (incorporating one of the artworks produced) to be readied for print.

Print Publication

Participants would like this to have a “strong visual message with use of photography, graphics art work, drawings, eye-catching colour inspired by 1970s zine style”. The publication will showcase participants work as well as provoking and exploring discussion about issues of policing and racism in the UK today.

The publication (an A5 booklet of around 20-30 pages) will include illustrations (provided by a graphic novelist) of the oral history interviewees, biographies and key quotations to make the knowledge and perspectives of older generations available to younger people often facing similar struggles today. The publication will also include young people’s responses to the history in the form of poetry, short stories, collages, reflections and archival research generated by participants in an intensive creative training programme in summer 2018.

Project Website

The project website will be a platform to showcase the project and research. It will need to follow the same visual style as the publication and have space for information about the project, downloadable PDF learning resources, a short film of the project performance (provided by a professional artist) and be accessible and functional.

Digital Learning Resources

The project learning resources will include PDF lesson plans and related resources (PPTs, Short video clips) that can be downloaded from the website for use in educational settings ideally in zip files. The Learning Resources will follow the same visual style as the publication and the content for each will be provided by the project team.

 Budget: Up to £2400. Please give us a quote with a breakdown of how much time you would be able to spend on each output. Hosting and printed costs are budgeted for separately.

Timescale: To be confirmed, but final delivery will be in October 2018. Designer must have some availability in August 2018 to meet the group of young people, be briefed and work up some sample designs for feedback, as well as producing the leaflet and programme for the performance.

Client: On the Record: an oral history Community Interest Company. http://on-

Contact: Rosa Kurowska, Heritage Co-ordinator:

To apply: Please write to tell us why you would be suitable, what your approach would be and send up to three samples of your prior work by the end of 23 July 2018.


Key milestones:

End of July: design partner appointed

Early August: leaflet designed for distribution

Mid August: design plan signed off and content for print publication provided for type-setting. Last week of August: Programme ready for print

End of September / beginning of October: Learning Resources, Publication and Website complete

Vision for the publication:


Participants have outlined the following key aims for the publication:

  • To tell the history of SUS and how the Fighting SUS team collected the stories ofthe interviewees.
  • A booklet that can be put on display and used as a learningresource.
  • To have strong visual message with use of photography, graphics art work, drawings, eye- catching colour inspired by 1970s zinestyle
  • To be accessible to all people with texts kept short andclear.
  • To include a fold-out timeline which gives the key historicaldates.
  • To give reader advice and information about what they can donow
  • To have a personal handwriting style / 1970s zine style / comicstrips.


The following images were selected by the group from existing publications to give an idea of the visual style they would like to achieve with the sus project’s publications:

Background to Project:

 Why was a Victorian vagrancy act, intended to prevent ‘begging, showing wounds’ and ‘telling fortunes’, used to criminalise minority groups in the 1970s and 1980s? Who brought a stop to it? Who is under suspicion today?

Fighting ‘sus’: Riots, resistance and the repeal of the ‘sus’ laws, (funded by a National Lottery grant of

£45,400 from the Heritage Lottery Fund), will recruit and train young researchers to create a timely record of an era when the police felt like ‘an army of occupation’ in areas like east London (Graham Smith, Hackney Community Defence Organisation). Frequent stop-and-searching contributed to growing unrest amongst minority communities and was a touch-paper for the riots of 1980/81 in Birmingham, Bristol, Liverpool, London and other UK cities. Lord Scarman’s 1981 report exposed the ‘racially prejudiced actions of some officers’ and ultimately led to the repeal of the ‘sus’ law on 27 August 1981.

The project was developed in conversation with today’s young east Londoners, who are galvanised by their own experiences of exclusion from public spaces and awareness of racism. Fighting ‘sus’ grows out of On the Record’s existing research and contacts with 1970s & 1980s counter-cultural venues (e.g. where poets such as Hugh Boatswain & Linton Kwesi Johnson expressed their indignation.

The project offers twenty 16-25 year-olds a chance to learn interviewing, audio recording, research, drama production and writing/publishing skills from professionals. Young researchers will scour the archives to find their first clues about the ‘sus’ era. Looking beyond the flashpoints and headlines, the project will explore testimony about daily life from inner-city dwellers who were ‘stereotyped as criminal by nature’ in the words of late sociologist Stuart Hall. (For example, ‘The black boys only have to be laughing too hard and they get picked up’ – Talking Blues, ‘sus’ era pamphlet, Bishopsgate Institute). They will discover documents from the Scrap Sus Campaign (spearheaded by parents), support groups for victims of police crime such as Newham Monitoring Project, and supplementary schools which promoted cultural pride. Rebellious music from Burning Spear and the Rock Against Racism concerts will provide an entry point into contemporary youth culture.

Armed with intensive research and oral history training, the young people will record interviews with campaigners, cultural commentators, police, and victims of police harassment. They will focus on the voices of east Londoners, but this micro-history of ‘sus’ will resonate with people from many other urban centres.

On the Record said, ‘While secondary sources such as documents and films are valuable, they cannot replicate the dialogue between generations that you get through oral history. Young interviewers will produce their own new sources to create historical interpretation that addresses their own questions about the past.’

 Fighting ‘sus’ culminates in a touring performance and teaching resources that will travel around schools and cultural centres in late 2018. The repeal of ‘sus’, a landmark shift in UK legislation, framed by the unique vantage point of young Londoners today, stands to reach an audience of thousands. The tour will be aided by the nationwide reach of Journey to Justice,which includes Martin Spafford, the author of the first GCSE module on migration. A permanent archive of the oral history recordings will be accessible to members of the public without appointment at Bishopsgate Institute, near Liverpool Street station. It is all made possible by money raised by National Lottery players and the generous support of the Heritage LotteryFund.

Today, the use of stop-and-search powers has evolved: police have to record all stops and undertake training on implementing the law. Yet this remains an area of controversy in the Metropolitan Police. The ‘sus’ era (1970-1981), when systemic racism in the police force came under public scrutiny for the first time, is under- researched (most historians have focused on national legislation since the 1984 Police and Criminal Evidence Act). On the Record and Journey to Justice hope an understanding of ‘sus’ and the campaign against it will inspire young people to take action for social justice today.

Share your stories about Brompton Cemetery for a podcast series.


Share your Memories of Brompton Cemetery

Share your Memories of Brompton Cemetery



Be part of a new sound archive and podcast series exploring the Life & Death of Brompton Cemetery – one of the magnificent seven.

Call Out for Brompton Cemetery Oral History Volunteers

Brompton Cemetery


A new training opportunity on an exciting project run by our friends at Brompton Cemetery.

We are delighted to have been invited to co-ordinate an oral history project at Brompton Cemetery – the ‘Life and Times of Brompton Cemetery’.  Our friends at Brompton Cemetery have been researching some of the 205,000 people buried in Brompton Cemetery, producing a list of notable highlights, and now wish to explore the living memory of the cemetery. As part of this ‘Life and Times of Brompton Cemetery’, On the Record can offer free oral history training  for volunteers.

The project will involve asking people who have been visiting for years – including LGBTQ groups, families, the ‘Friends of Brompton Cemetery’, wildlife lovers and community groups – about their subjective experiences. We’ll cover changes to the site, the diverse uses of the cemetery over the years and impressions about the future of the cemetery, and other topics decided by the volunteer team. We will be using industry standard audio recording equipment to conduct these oral history interviews with cemetery visitors, past and present.

This opportunity will involve:
– Developing your historical research and media skills.
– Learning about a unique Victorian site.
– Attending participatory training in the method, value, ethics and practicalities of recording oral history interviews to British heritage industry standard on Saturday 10th March and Saturday 7th April.
– Preparing for and recording oral history interviews at a time that is convenient for the interviewee.
– Summarising and archiving oral history interviews (with training and support).

Experience/Qualifications/ Attributes:
– No formal qualifications are required and this opportunity is open to all experience levels
– You will need to have a suitable grasp of English language as all interviews will be conducted in English.
– You do need to be available for the training days unless agreed in advance with Halima.

Lunch and travel (up to £10 per day).

Time Commitment:
All volunteers will need to be available for:
– 2 days training – 10th March and 7th April.
– up to 5 days oral history recording over May/June.
– up to 5 days interview summarising over July/August.
We will have a regular weekly drop-in for oral history volunteers (at a time that suits the majority) at South Lodge, Fulham Rd, Kensington, London SW10 9UG. However, you may need to be a bit flexible as not all oral history interviewees will be available at that time.

How to apply:
If you are interested in becoming involved, please contact the project on or call Halima Khanom on 0207 352 1060/ 07521 515911. Please state in your email whether you are available for training.

Deadline for applications, March 8th at 12pm. 

Fighting Sus: Youth/Drama Co-ordinator Wanted

Front cover of Talking Blues (1978)

Front cover of Talking Blues (1978)

On the Record is recruiting a freelance Youth Coordinator for their exciting new project Fighting Sus: Resisting and Repealing Stop and Search 1970-81. We are looking for someone with experience of both youth work and drama production.

Download the application documents here and read the project’s press release here.

Please send queries and applications to us at info(at)

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Hyde Park Soundscape

copyright Moyra and Rodger Peralta



On the Record was asked to create a soundscape for the Royal Parks drawing on the Sounds from the Park archive, which has a permanent and welcoming home at Bishopsgate Institute Library.

Speeches and songs highlight the struggle to win the vote (19th century), student protests (2010), Donald Soper’s anti-nuclear platform (1970s), the Hyde Park Gays and Sapphics (1980s), an Irish heckler discussing the Bible (1990s), Ishmahil Blagrove on racism (1990s) and the women’s march (2017).

Sounds from the Park archive (collected by On the Record at Bishopsgate Institute) with thanks to Philip Wolmuth, Chris Kennett, Paul Kennett and Stef Dickers, Michelle Johansen, Nicola Hilton, Barbara Vesey & Rachel Smith of Bishopsgate Institute.

Additional footage of Women’s March 2017 by Rachel Smith and student protests by David Hardman (“no ifs, no buts, no education cuts”).

Music stems by Isa Suarez



Food Memories & Frontlines: An Oral History Taster

Follow the beat of the bass towards sound systems, street battles and food stories with an oral history Audiowalk and workshop. Learn about Ridley market and surroundings and how to record your own family’s memories using food as a stimulus for storytelling.

Workshop involves walking so wear comfortable shoes. Please contact to book your place (suggested donation 10 pounds, free if you can’t pay). If you have a smart phone, please download the free ‘a hackney autobiography’ app beforehand. Type ‘a hackney autobiography’ into Google Play or Android.

People without smart phones are warmly welcomed and will be accommodated with wireless headphones.


© Joanna Layla

© Joanna Layla

Launch A Hackney Autobiography on 7 May

© Joanna Layla

When: Sunday 7th May, 5 – 7 pm

Where: Sutton House, 2 and 4 Homerton High Street, London E9 6JQ. Map here.
Booking essential. Contact: to reserve your place.

What: hear a roundtable of speakers who are engaged in cultural and community activities in related fields, reflect on the history of Centerprise as re-presented by a hackney autobiography and join the discussion. Receive a free copy of The Lime Green Mystery, preview the app and get help downloading it.

Speakers include: Toyin Agbetu from Ligali, Vivian Archer from Newham Bookshop, Nana Fani Kayode, teacher and radio producer, Gary Molloy from Core Arts, Marie Murray from Dalston Eastern Curve Garden and representatives from the Young Historians’ Project.

Before the party, there’s a unique chance to preview Inside Out Homerton – one of the audiowalks featured on the app, as a group. Meet at 3:30 at Homerton station. To book a place on the Inside Out Homerton audiowalk, please contact us by 21 April. Later bookings will be accepted if places remain available.People who don’t like smart phones are welcome!

Event organised in collaboration with Pages bookshop.

Pre-order your free copy of The Lime Green Mystery: An oral history of the Centerprise co-operative now, by emailing us with your address.  Limited numbers available, pre-ordering is encouraged to avoid disappointment. Donations to cover the cost of postage appreciated but not essential.

The app and website is at

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Welcome to Memories Kitchen


We seeking people who live in the Vassall and Coldharbour area to participate in Memories Kitchen. Get in touch to tell us your food memories and access requirements! You will then be invited to a FREE community feast, cooked by a professional chef, inspired by the memories we have gathered.

Call Laura Mitchison


13th and 20th

Memories Kitchen Volunteers Needed!


On the Record is seeking volunteers to help welcome people, facilitate discussion and serve food at 2 community feasts in the Vassall area. And yes, volunteers will get to eat too!

Volunteers will be asked to attend a training day which is likely to be on 14th January in the evening. You can also come on memory recording and consultation visits prior to the feast days.

To register your interest in volunteering please contact Kemi Akinola, 07934 346 917, Please get in touch by 6th January!

This project is a collaboration between On the Record and Brixton People’s Kitchen.


Memories Kitchen

Wigtown Book Festival

Screen Shot 2015-11-03 at 16.51.37


On the Record was invited to do an event at the Wigtown Book festival in Scotland. We created a pop up memory kitchen in collaboration with chef Simon Wroe. We interviewed local people and worked with Simon Wroe to create a menu of food and conversation topics designed to elicit memories. We explored the way flavours and smells evoke what surrounds them in memory; elaborating on other senses as well as evoking cultural worlds. We deferred describing exactly what the ingredients were in order to tap into diners’ autobiographical memories rather than their ‘semantic’ (recognition of phenomena) memories. For instance, a ‘mystery flavoured’ jelly prompted people to recall the sound of ‘empty old green bottles,’ ‘small sounds behind velvet curtains,’ and ‘children’s parties.’ We later disclosed the flavour as Irn-Bru. Smoky wild mushroom soup (inspired by an interview with a Galloway forager and his ‘funghi fever’) was the spur for discussing memories of childhood. A younger dinner shared her elaborate food avoidance strategy, the imaginary ‘Ministry of Peas,’ while an older man recalled stealing peas off other children’s plates as a hungry youth. So Memory’s Kitchen became a safe and humorous way for complete strangers to discuss the politics of food and scarcity, and how we define ‘the other.’

A mystery flavoured jelly – synaesthesia and free association

Mushroom soup – childhood memories

Spiced salt marsh lamb – opening cultural horizons