A day in the life of Sunderland – exhibition documents 24 hours in the city

Martin Brooks with his Sunderland in a Day display boards at Sunderland ParishChurch.
Martin Brooks with his Sunderland in a Day display boards at Sunderland ParishChurch.
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A SNAPSHOT of life in Sunderland will be on show this weekend.

Charity worker Martin Brooks won the chance to document a day in the life of city workers and residents – and the results will be displayed at the Donnison School Fête today.

Martin said: “The idea was to find a broad range of people, from schoolchildren to pensioners, who would let me know what they were doing over one 24-hour period – using emails, texts or photos.

“My aim was to build up a picture of what life in Sunderland is like today and preserve those details for the future. My project is like an IT time capsule of a lively city for one day.”

Martin, who volunteers at Living History North East, an oral history charity based at Donnison School, in the East End, won financial backing for his project through Vodafone.

The phone firm’s World of Difference UK scheme provided funding for 500 people to work for their dream charity for several months – and Martin, of Hendon, was one of the lucky few chosen.

“I love history, I love socialising and I love the internet – and this was what this project was about,” said Martin. “The results will be on show today.”

Martin worked with 21 Wearsiders on the project, called Sunderland – A Day in the Life Of – Voices Captured, including a musician, doctor, job-seeker, factory worker and charity volunteer.

Information provided by the group included texts about work, weddings, job-hunting and daily life, 24-hour diaries in email form and photographs ranging from street scenes to family portraits.

“At the end of the 24-hour period I had more than 65 emails and 90 texts. I was over the moon with the response,” said Martin, who lives in Hendon. “They really do give a snapshot of life.”

The results of Martin’s project are to be displayed at Sunderland’s Old Parish Church today, from noon to 4pm, when a traditional Victorian fête will be held by Donnison School volunteers.

Admission is 50p for adults and free for children. Games, raffles, tombolas and a wide range of stalls are planned, together with face-painting and felt-making sessions.

“Once the fête is over, there are plans to put the results of my project on the internet, which would be great,” said Martin.

“The project hasn’t just recorded a piece of history, it has made history too.”

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