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HOME SECRETARY: 'MUSLIMS HELP BUILD STRONG ACTIVE COMMUNITIES'

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In a visit to a West London Mosque and cultural centre, Home ...
In a visit to a West London Mosque and cultural centre, Home

Secretary David Blunkett saw for himself how Muslim centres are

providing practical help and support to the wider community.

Mr Blunkett was visiting the Muslim Cultural Heritage Centre which

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

society.

'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

and understanding.'

Notes

1. The home secretary was visiting the Muslim Cultural Heritage

Centre (MCHC) 224 Acklam Street, North Kensington, London on 21

August.

2. The MCHC was opened in 1999. It operates the following services:

- Prayer hall

- careers advice and guidance,

- IT training

- Creche

- English and Arabic lessons

- luncheon club for over 55s

- canteen

- 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

land.

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