When Shanklin Village community centre began planning its first ever Eid celebration, no one quite realised the impact this small event would have in bringing people together. As well as forging new friendships and changing views, the event prompted new residents to join the community association making it more diverse. It also helped promote local businesses, led to a new women’s exercise class and even reignited the village WhatsApp group.
A new partnership project, bringing together NHS South West London, Sutton Council, the residents association and local voluntary groups, set out to restore community spirit and make new connections. Meetings with the residents’ association and local Bangladeshi families were followed by conversations on doorsteps and with businesses, churches, GPs and others until the event came together.
I have lived here for 18 years, [but] never had an event that I was part of and never thought I would see Eid celebrated at Shanklin Village in my lifetime.”
While some people were unsure, others, including the younger generation, were keen to give it a go. The big question was what type of event to hold? People were keen for it to be inclusive. “It has to connect with every generation of the community, it has to reflect us … it should be a celebration”, said one participant. Sports, music or wellbeing events were ruled out – a post-Eid celebration involving the Bangladeshi and Ahmadhiyya Muslim communities – but open to all – felt perfect.
On the day, everyone played a part, from decorating the hall to coordinating food deliveries. Muslim residents appreciated that the celebration was held for them, with people from across Shanklin’s communities saying they are looking forward to more events to come. People said that they felt “empowered”, “proud” to be part of the event and pleased to have “found a community to belong to”.
The event feedback was inspiring. “It felt like I was walking into my home, [I] loved the effort taken to decorate,” said one person. Another said they were, “So happy to have met all these people.” While another added, “I have lived here for 18 years, [but] never had an event that I was part of and never thought I would see Eid celebrated at Shanklin Village in my lifetime.”
Guests at the event included Sutton Council Leader, Cllr Ruth Dombey (pictured left with Nadine Wyatt, engagement manager for Sutton with NHS South West London) as well as Michelle Rahman, Director of Transformation for the Sutton Place Partnership.
Main picture, left to right: Razia Sattar, head of partnerships, impact and equality, Community Action Sutton; Sarah Lumgair, operations manager, People Arise Now; Michelle Rahman; Nadine Wyatt; Jubee Mathews, community development officer, Community Action Sutton; Shahida Ahmad from Shanklin’s Bangladeshi community.