Written by Sabah Zulfiqar, Volunteer at ACAA
This article examines the benefits of local community donations towards the Afghanistan and Central Asian Association.
Communities at the heart of any society play a vital role in bringing people together and supporting one another. Indeed, the saying that “home is where the heart is,” resonates in the United Kingdom as the local community provides a vessel of opportunities for local charities and NGOs to extract additional support and funding. Simply walking down a local high street in London, you will find many established retail chains that have community budgets funds as part of their community values. Small independent stores are even more generous as they relish the prospect of supporting others in their locality to build honest partnerships.
To demonstrate the perks of local community support and what a great asset the community can be to local charities, the Afghanistan and Central Asia Association (ACAA) has been working in collaboration with the Lewisham community to develop innovate and personalised forms of funding to help meet the ACAA’s goals and values.
One of the most important services the ACAA provides are the supplementary educational classes aimed at promoting integration through education and knowledge. These weekly classes, which are attended by school children and adults, were introduced to supplement the education taught in schools and to promote the learning of the English language. The fortnightly donations the ACAA receives from The Flying Tiger provides an excellent supply of equipment and stationery for use in these supplementary classes, including pens, pencils and notepads. These donations allow the ACAA to gain access to a regular supply of new stationery, ensuring that the lessons organised by the ACAA are well equipped. This creates both an engaging, creative and productive environment for the children who benefit from well-maintained classes, as well as ensuring no burden is placed on our attendees who typically come from low-income homes.
Moreover, an added benefit of these donations being locally sourced from The Flying Tiger is that it significantly reduces both cost and time for delivery orders. This ensures that the ACAA are able to concentrate on creating and delivering a comprehensive and effective curriculum to meet a fundamental objective of the ACAA; using education as a tool for empowerment. Besides the conventional monetary donations, the ACAA was able to successfully identify opportunities for local businesses to directly impact our services, which for The Flying Tiger was to provide equipment for our educational classes. By successfully identifying this common factor, the ACAA was able to gain a brilliant partnership for a local store to directly contribute to our educational services. This is no doubt a valuable and cost-effective relationship.
The ACAA has also teamed up with the Lewisham Library and Lewisham College to unite under our shared goal of education. This has provided an effective source of books at no cost for the English language classes held by the ACAA. It provides a safe and non-judgmental environment for attendees to develop their language skills with the help of the programmes leaders and volunteers to guide and support them with the goal to reduce disadvantage and exclusion from mainstream English speaking society.
The donations of books provided by the Lewisham Library and College complement the ESOL classes splendidly. We have received a range of books that cover a vast spectrum of writing including early reading and children fiction. By gaining a greater range of books, speakers of other languages are provided with the opportunity to explore different levels of genres, texts and formats at their own pace. This not only enhances the delivery of the classes but also meets a core aim of the ACAA: to encourage confidence, participation and accessibility within the migrant and disadvantaged communities.
The main motivation for the ACAA is to better the circumstances and fortune of migrants and refugees in the UK, thus the range of books provides opportunities for such individuals to develop and discover their own ambitions, interests and creativity. These books are also given away so individuals can also use these resources for their leisure and comfortably interact with the English language in the comforts of their own homes.
Furthermore, another reason the ACAA derives great benefit from local donations is because they have dual purposes. Not only do they assist in the projects of the ACAA, they are also great sources for gift giving. The Flying Tiger not only donates stationery but toys and small items which, along with the book donations, are effectively utilised in the community events held by the ACAA, for example at the ACAA’s most recent event: The Winter Festival.
The Winter Festival was organised by one of the ACAA’s long-term projects, the Zanan project, which aims to integrate marginalised Muslim women in British society. By using these donations as gifts and prizes in such events, it helps meet the ACAA’s objectives of creating an inclusive environment for migrants and refugees thus increasing community cohesion while also providing a sense of satisfaction for the recipients.
Lastly, the ACAA received a generous amount of monetary donation from the well-known high street chain, WH Smith, as part of their community initiative to help local communities. Such funds differ in their application procedure ranging from lengthy applications to smaller applications. Nonetheless, they are highly effective in gaining support for charities based in their localities.
The donations from WH Smith will go towards the funding of the many projects the ACAA organises. With the arrival of the New Year, the ACAA has many exciting projects lined up including a Film Festival focusing on Afghan and Iranian films that deal with female empowerment and struggle. Alongside this, the ACAA aim to hold a street party in Lewisham this year to further promote our values of inclusivity, participation and celebrating cultural diversity. In addition, the organisation plans to continue their newly set up sports clubs for children which provide a safe and fun place for children to engage and participate in sports to ultimately improve their mental and physical well-being. These new projects will benefit from the donations received and the multiple projects the NGO are working on in the long-term.
Overall, the local community provides great opportunities for local charities as demonstrated by the ACAA. The warmth the group received to its donation requests is an excellent example of community spirit and the positive change NGOs and communities can collaboratively bring to society at large. Our shared values of bringing demonstrable changes to marginalized citizens in society provide a strong motivation to collaborate with local organisations and reap the benefits which they bring. The organisation strongly believes that a community united on solving societal issues is stronger and ready to deliver support. What better way for an NGO to achieve their mission of inclusivity than by adopting an inclusive approach!
The ACAA is a non-governmental organisation (NGO) organisation situated in the London borough of Lewisham and is committed to the integration, education and betterment of migrants, refugees and the disadvantaged communities in the UK. These core values translate into the provision of a diverse range of services such as free legal clinics, women support groups and mentoring services to provide guidance and support to help integrate and advise those living away from their homeland. The charities reputable name and its success are due to the determination of the charity in providing outstanding services that help migrants and refugees reach their potential and ultimately build a safe and secure life in the UK.
To discover more about the work the ACAA is involved in and for donation enquires, please visit the ACAA website and our Facebook Page. If you are a local business and would like to discuss ways to become involved with our work at the ACAA please contact Dr Nasimi, director of the ACAA.