BEMSCA & Fairfield House

Fairfield HouseWhilst visiting Bath, LOW PROFILE had the pleasure of meeting with Pauline from Bath Ethnic Minority Senior Citizens Association (BEMSCA) where the group is based at Fairfield House. Not only were BEMSCA an exciting and interesting group, but Fairfield House is a hidden gem of Bath and we are happy to have unearthed it.

BEMSCA was formed in 1993 to provide a Luncheon Club, information and advice to the Caribbean, Asian and Chinese elders in Bath after a study showed that ethnic minority elders were at risk from language barriers, social isolation and inadequate access to services.

BEMSC lionFrom opening one day a week at Riverside Youth and Community Centre, it went to two days (Monday & Friday) a week in 1995 to a new home at Fairfield House in Kelston Road. The project was managed by Steering Group and the Management Committee was formed in October 1995.

BEMSC now provide a Luncheon Club on Mondays and Fridays, increase awareness of available Statutory and Voluntary service provisions, provide information and advice services to BME Senior Citizens and aim to do so in the users languages. They celebrate their culture, backgrounds, experience and languages by bringing together people from different minority ethnic groups to share those things. Picture in the Paper aims to celebrate the distinctiveness and diversity of the people of Bath and it was affirming to meet with a group that had this sentiment at the core of it.

Pauline BEMSCAWhilst meeting with Pauline and hearing more about the group, LOW PROFILE, learnt about the unique history of their building Fairfield House. The impressive building had once been home to Haile Selassie during his exile years (1936-1941) and upon his return to Ethiopia he gifted it to ‘the elders of the city of Bath.’ As well as BEMSCA the house is home for a range of groups and activity. It is a site of pilgrimage for Orthodox Ethiopian Christians and Rastafarians because of the emperor’s time there. Upstairs is a small museum display which includes artefacts donated by various visitors and a blessed prayer room. Three Bath Spa University students work from there one day a week to research Haile Selassie’s years in the UK and contribute to the museum as well as the history of the city. The building is also a meeting place for the Townswoman’s Guild in Bathwhich takes advantage of the conservatory for their watercolour group which is only one of many they have.
Visiting the house and hearing about the passion of those who get to untilise it’s space as well as vocalise it’s unique history was a humbling experience. The variety of reasons that brings people to that one place is staggering, but the really unique aspect is the passion they share for each other as a result.