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Derry/Londonderry Groups Celebrate Awards for All grants

March 10, 2016

Ethnic minority communities in the Derry/Londonderry area are coming together for multicultural celebrations, thanks to a grant from Big Lottery Fund.

The Kerala Association has received a £4,200 grant from Big Lottery Fund’s Awards for All programme. It is part of a Big Lottery Fund grants roll out today of £761,601 to 86 groups across Northern Ireland, including £52,675 to seven groups in the Derry/Londonderry area (See full list of awards)

Annie Joshi -  Treasurer of the Kerala Association.

Annie Joshi – Treasurer of the Kerala Association.

These events will involve a variety of activities for all ages including chess, badminton, quizzes, storywriting, drawing and colouring competitions and singing and dance performance classes. They are also holding a Vishu festival to mark the Hindu new year, at Easter.

Annie Joshi, treasurer of the Kerala Association, said: “Vishu festivals are celebrated all over Kerala. Our Vishu festival here will be a great time for whole families to come together and link with different communities in the North West area.

“In Kerala Vishu celebrates at the start of the Zodiac New Year. A good start is essential in Indian culture.”

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Annie has lived in Derry/Londonderry since 2003, when she came to the area to work as a staff nurse in Altnagelvin Area Hospital. She was recruited along with 13 other people and they moved here from Kerala. They have worked since then to keep their cultural identity strong.

“The people in Derry gave us a warm welcome when we arrived, and they are very friendly, so we never thought of moving from here to another place,” she said.

“For us, festivals are moments of excitement and joy and nostalgic memories. It is important to challenge negative stereotypes of migrant communities by showing our community positively and encouraging our members to be confident and happy with their cultural identity. This is how we are increasing acceptance and respect for diversity.”

For more information on the Kerala Association please visit: http://mayooram.org/

Reach Across, also based in Derry/Londonderry, promotes cross community contact between young people in the west of Northern Ireland. It also received £8,720 to bring young people together by organising a series of classes and residentials in Tobermore, for 120 young people, finishing with a showcase event.

Brian McGuigan, co-ordinator for Reach Across said: “The young people involved in our projects are from all across the North West. For many, taking part in one of our residentials is their first ever cross community experience. The majority of young people are interested because they want to make new friends and experience new activities. We approach schools and ask the young people to apply to us but we also get a lot of referrals from worried parents or social services.

“The residentials are vital in getting the young people involved and making that initial contact. They are then invited to take part in other activities we run such as workshops and courses —but it could be something as simple as a pizza and DVD night. We want to create positive experiences for the young people to meet each other at and keep relationships going.”

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