Nana and Elouise Edwards were founding members of the West Indian Organisations Co-ordinating Committee (WIOCC). Nana became the first full-time warden of the WIOCC in 1972. Along with a host of other people from different Caribbean islands, they wanted to bond as they were all facing similar problems and struggles. Finding a physical place for meetings and socializing; a place to call “home” was difficult.
However, the enthusiasm for meeting in each others homes was common place. Thus the seed of the WIOCC blossomed and found root in its present location, West Indian Centre, Carmoor Road.
The WIOCC was established in 1964 as an umbrella organisaton representing six of Manchester’s Caribbean island organisations; Barbados Overseas Association, Grenada Association, Jamaica Society Manchester, Guyana Association, Leeward Islands People’s Association and the Trinidad and Tobago Association. The WIOCC was initially established to promote and develop the social, cultural and economic well being of the West Indian people of all ages across Greater Manchester, with an emphasis on working to empower young people who were deprived of resources and opportunities.
For over three decades the WIOCC was Manchester’s most prominent community organization promoting African Caribbean youth development programmes. The programmes and activities reflected a very strong emphasis on the on the importance of culture and education.
The WIOCC is credited with pioneering the development of several youth projects in the form of skills training, supplementary schools (primary, secondary and adult) and play schemes. It has provided services related to employment, immigration, education and general welfare for more than twenty years. These services were offered and adopted in response to social, economic and political changes through the years and served as models. They still exist but without the vibrancy they had until the mid 1990s. It is through the delivery of these services that Nana commanded so much respect and sometimes created enemies. All agree he was relentless in his efforts on behalf of the community, whom he would frequently call “my people”.
Within recent years the WIOCC continues to respond to a smaller number of social and cultural needs of the community, namely the operation of its Saturday School and a specialised library, The Nana Bonsu Reference Library and Resources Centre. The West Indian Centre located at Carmoor Road, continues to make its facilities available for hire for a range of community and family functions, Church events, Parties, Wedding receptions and social activities.