Written by Max Riley – Volunteer at ACAA
The response to our first event in Hounslow was incredibly positive and shows how the ACAA is filling a void in the community. Mothers, fathers, daughters, sons, brothers and sisters all came to the event creating a lively family atmosphere, which is precisely what we were trying to achieve. The reason this is mentioned is because, while leafleting for the event, a question that was frequently asked, predominantly by but not limited to women, was ‘Can I bring my children?’. Of course children are allowed to come was the response, but it segued into an interesting problem faced by people who do not work due to having commitments at home: a lack of things to do.
The percentage of people who are ‘economically inactive’ within the Hounslow area is 19%, which means that for one reason or another it is not practical to seek employment at this time. Furthermore, 49.5% of those who are ‘economically inactive’ are listed (see Nomis) as having commitments related to ‘family/home’. This is a substantial amount of people who are staying at home in order to look after family, increasing the chances of becoming isolated from the community. The ACAA strives for integration and community cohesion and our free event made clear that there is clearly a demand for those ‘economically inactive’, whether that is stay-at-home parents or retired workers, the problem is the same. Not everyone is in a position to take the family out, whether it is money, local knowledge, a lack of friends in the area or all of the above which restricts them. Our event aimed to be simple and approachable to local members of the community, a moment for all members of the family to come down and meet new people, listen to some speakers and eat out: all for free.
Now while a conference on Women’s Experiences may not seem like the most exciting thing for children, it was evident that they enjoyed themselves. Throughout the night children were running around laughing and shouting, at one point some of the young girls went on stage to dance with Ziba, a professional dancer who came to our event to perform. Later on, during the Q&A, the kids got their chance to ask questions and unsurprisingly DSI Chaudhri received numerous questions about being a police officer. You could tell she really inspired the children and many of them were noticeably moved that such an important person was taking such an interest in them.
Our event was powered by the commitment of the Nasimi family and all the volunteers who committed time to the event. However, more is needed in order to keep these events a reality. With extra funding, we can increase the reach of our promotion for such events and bring even more people together. Furthermore, the more people who attend, the more likely sponsorships from local business will occur, which opens up a whole new window of opportunities. We want to help strengthen a community we know is there and help them feel noticed, appreciated and heard.
By getting more families out the house and involved in free events such as this, we can help people feel more at home and part of society. Parents can relax, kids can have fun in a safe and cheerful environment and everyone has a meal together at the end. These free community events are so important as it gives people a reason to come out when they otherwise may not find one.