Mrs Elouise Edwards has been instrumental in celebrating Black culture, battling racism and developing vital community resources in Moss Side.

Mrs Elouise Edwards MBE arrived in England in 1961. She has been involved with many projects to help solve the problems faced by the African-Caribbean people of Manchester. She has been instrumental in celebrating Black culture, battling racism and developing vital community resources in Moss Side. She was awarded an MBE for her amazing contribution.

Elouise also has an African Chieftaincy. She was nominated for her work with African people in Manchester and the honour was bestowed by the Nigerian organisation at the British Council.

“Once you’re involved in community, you’re always involved in community, because people know that there are certain things that you do, and therefore they come to you and ask for your help”.

Elouise Chandler, the youngest of 10 children, was born in Guyana, South America. Her father was a civil engineer who extracted gold from the goldfields of Guyana and her mother was a housewife.  She married Beresford Edwards in 1955 at St George’s Cathedral, Georgetown.  Beresford, came to England in 1960, and Elouise followed in 1961 with her three year old son.

“I never wanted to come to England. Mr. Edwards wanted to, he was a printer and he wanted to study lithography. So he came over first and then I followed but it was never my intention to leave home. I was very, very unhappy when I came here.”

Poster for the opening of the West Indian Community Centre, 1982
Mama Edwards at WIOCC Conference, Manchester

Elouise found life in Manchester extremely difficult, not only was the weather very different but there were huge cultural differences too.

“…this was where we begun to look at developing some things that a lot of people now take for granted. Because, you know, things like the schools, there was education, there was housing, there was social services, there was police…. All of theses institutions we found to be very racist, they weren’t catering for people like ourselves. And so, we were a part of an organisation, the WIOCC…”

The West Indian Organisation Co-ordinating Committee (WIOCC), was founded in 1964 to bring other Manchester based West Indian societies together.  Still working together at the WIOCC, different societies promote and develop the social, cultural and economic well- being of West Indian people living in Greater Manchester, with an emphasis on the under-privileged young.  The centre was officially opened on November 6th by Manchester’s Lord Mayor, Councillor Clifford Tomlinson.  Celebrations continued well into the night with music and dancing, even limbo dancing!  The Paradise Steel Band played until 2am.