Lord Tariq Ahmad, Minister for Communities and Local Government, accompanied by our local Coordinator Carlo Schroder, visited Rochdale on the 12th December. They met some of projects that have benefited from the Near Neighbours Programme.
Lord Ahmad was shown the ethnically diverse neighbourhood of Newbold and met members of the Newbold Community Partnership. The Partnership is a new joint venture involving St Peter’s Church, Madina Masjid & Newbold Islamic Centre and a broad range of local community groups. It has received funding from Near Neighbours to run a series of community events that aim to bring the diverse community in Newbold closer together.
During the minister’s discussion with the group it became clear that partnership work was key to success of community development. Members of the partnership emphasised that many services were working in isolation in the past, unable to adequately address unemployment and health issues. The money from Near Neighbours would not only address community cohesion and provide better understanding between people of different faiths and cultures, but would also help to address social economic issues through joint ventures.
After the visit to Newbold, Lord Ahmed visited the Multi Cultural Arts and Media Centre (MAMC) located in Deeplish, Rochdale. Like Newbold, Deeplish is a diverse community that is home to many organisations of different faiths and cultures. The Minister was intrigued by the work of the centre that uses arts to address issues of community cohesion as well as wellbeing. MAMC works with hard to reach groups in the borough to provide; arts and media skill based workshops; studio recording, film production, textiles, working together course, employment skills, work placements and achievements awards events to all communities.
The Centre has become a partner of Near Neighbours through its involvement with the Nehemiah Foundation. For the Near Neighbours programme, the foundation has provided and trained faith based community organisers in key communities. These community workers provide networking opportunities for local organisations and build the capacity of communities as they work together for change in their neighbourhoods. Through this relationship MAMC will be one of three host organisations for such a community organiser.
Author: Andrew Mathews
Date: 16 December 2014
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