Secretary David Blunkett saw for himself how Muslim centres are
providing practical help and support to the wider community.
works closely with the community and local authority to help meet the
needs of a wide range of people in one of England's more deprived
neighbourhoods. It is building a strong and dynamic community by
offering a range of skills training and educational and social
services to the local community, as well as the important religious
services that a living, working mosque provides.
Mr Blunkett said:
'Active citizenship and civil renewal are close to my heart.
Throughout the country, Muslims and mosques with their strong
commitment to community development, and with enterprise and
dedication, are playing a vital role in building a strong and vibrant
'The Muslim Cultural Heritage Centre has become a vital resource for
the whole community as well as a place of worship for local Muslims.
Places like this can engage and support people doing it for
themselves helping to build strong, dynamic communities in which all
people are given an opportunity to thrive.'
Mr Blunkett was on a tour around Centre, and met Muslim and
non-Muslim locals who were benefiting from the services provided.
These include a creche, IT training, careers and employment advice,
English and Arabic lessons, a luncheon club for over 55s, a canteen
and homework club/study groups on Saturdays.
Mr Blunkett praised the work underway and said:
'It gives me great pleasure to be here today to celebrate the success
of the Muslim Cultural Heritage Centre. Through strong partnership
with local and national government, with the local community this
Centre is making a real difference to the lives of local people.
'Everyone in the community, Muslim and non-Muslim, young and old, men
and women, have in this Centre a place to improve their education
prospects and master new skills. Mosques like this one are lowering
truancy rates, empowering men and women to learn English and Arabic,
and training people back into the job market. They are helping people
to reach their full potential and play an active part in society.'
'Equally, with their open door policy, mosques encourage their local
communities to mix and gain a better understanding about each other's
cultures. The Centre's library preserves Islamic heritage for the
congregation and interested members of the wider community.
'This is a vision that government shares: integration with diversity,
a Britain which values the contribution made by each of our many
ethnic, cultural and faith communities, and where people from
different backgrounds can live and work together in mutual respect
1. The home secretary was visiting the Muslim Cultural Heritage
Centre (MCHC) 224 Acklam Street, North Kensington, London on 21
2. The MCHC was opened in 1999. It operates the following services:
- Prayer hall
- careers advice and guidance,
- IT training
- English and Arabic lessons
- luncheon club for over 55s
- homework club/study groups on Saturdays
- supplementary school
- Islamic education
- reference library.
Its mission is to empower and enable local Muslims (and others) from
all backgrounds to reach their full potential, and play an active,
positive and participatory role in building stable, cohesive and
successful communities. In June 2002, the Centre held the first ever
Imams graduation ceremony following a ten week course which allowed
Imams to enhance skills suited to working in the urban and socially
excluded communities of Britain.
This year, the Centre received a 'mention' from The Civic Trust
(given to projects that bring a notable social, cultural or economic
benefit to their community). The judges highlighted the cultural
benefit the Centre gave to those who would like to find out about
Islam, as well as for those who are already Muslim. They were
impressed by the site and its imaginative use of space, being in a
disused railway siding, near to industrial areas and a motorway. It
was commented that this site paves the way for more regeneration of
the community, and encourages others to use the difficulty-placed