A heritage project created to capture the hidden stories of Birmingham’s Chinese community was officially launched at an event at The Cube.

The ‘British Chinese Heritage Project | Chinese Lives in Birmingham’ was awarded a grant of £35,600 from the Heritage Lottery Fund in April 2013.

There are approximately 20,000 ethnic Chinese living in Birmingham and the surrounding areas - this project is aiming to provide a snapshot of their lives through individual stories and memories to preserve for future generations.

Organisers say the project will be completed in June.

The British Chinese community is thought to be one of the oldest Chinese communities in Western Europe, with the first Chinese having come from the ports of Tianjin and Shanghai in the early 19th century. Later on in the 20th century, the majority of net migration came from former British colonies such as Hong Kong and Malaysia.

Anna Yim, CEO of Chinese Community Centre Birmingham, said: “We are delighted to be able to create this historical project that looks at the lives of individual migrants and British Chinese, as well as the development of the Chinese community in Birmingham – an integral part of the city’s history over the last half-century or so.”

The project, featuring the likes of Mr Woon Wing Yip OBE and Professor Rayson Huang CBE (former Vice-Chancellor of the University of Hong Kong) has recorded the development of the Chinese community in Birmingham through different life stories. A permanent archive will be created which will be kept in the Library of Birmingham.

The output will include a blog (http://chineselivesinbirmingham.com) and a brochure, as well as recordings of interviews and focus groups for the Library of Birmingham archives department.

A first of its type in the West Midlands, the project will culminate with a free, pop-up exhibition for the public at the Barber Institute of Fine Arts, lasting for three weeks.