Earlier this year, the Just Act team were out and about visiting community projects to find out and share what they do. In January 2015, we met with Nick and Jangir who both volunteer at the Sahahra Project in Derby.
Sahahra is a day care centre in Normanton, near Derby city centre. Normanton is an urban, multi-cultural community with a large proportion of Asian residents (approximately 12,000 people). We learnt that most of the area’s residents were proud of the area’s vibrancy, diversity and energy.
Sahahra provides care services for older members of the Asian community and has now been running for 18 years, giving older people somewhere they can go, allowing them to give their carers a bit of a break while they meet and socialise.
About the Sahahra Project
It was great to visit the warm, welcoming centre located in the heart of Derby’s picturesque Arboretum Park. The group runs sessions every day, each of which caters for around 10-12 people. Food is provided and participants can socialise as well as receive treatments, such as reflexology.
At Sahahra, this day care is provided at a very low cost, to ensure that it remains accessible to those who need it. To add to the small contributions provided by the service users, they also receive funding from Derby City Council to keep the group running.
Nick and Jangir met years ago, when Nick moved to the area, and have been working together to improve the community ever since. They told us that they felt really lucky to have built up strong relationships with the whole community: from their service users, the wider Asian community and lots of other organisations and individuals.
When the project was initially set up, Jangir told us that there was resistance from some of the locals. He said that some members from the Pakistani community felt they had a duty to look after older family members at home. However, there were a large number of older people who needed this support, which means that the project has been running successfully for 18 years.
Communities tackling negative perceptions of an area
Nick and Jangir told us that they felt Normanton had a poor reputation and this was made worse by negative media and press coverage the area had received. However, they were really keen to tell us that these perceptions do not accurately portray the real sense of community in the area.
We found out that while sometimes the media coverage isn’t too flattering, there was a strong sense of community and lots of volunteers and community activists who are working to make the area a better place to live.