Over the last month a CF volunteer had the opportunity to visit Azad Kashmir particularly the Kotli region. This is one of the most beautiful places in the region. Amongst the many cultural and nature inspired sites is a castle which is little known in wider society. The Throtchi castle still partly stands after 556 years since its creation.
The Throtchi castle is located close to the town of Gulpur. The castle was built in 1460 AD. It is located southwest of Kotli City at the junction of the Kotli-Mirpur and Kotli-Rawalpindi road.
It was here in 1947, that a contingent of local men headed by Col. Mahmood defeated and chased out the Dogra army. The Dogra soldier were besieged at the Throtchi Castle and the battle was a famous win for the local population. The wider history of the castle is still relatively shrouded in mystery and there is still research being carried out to understand more about its creation and early occupants and rulers.
History and culture play a large part of human identity and development. CF maintain a strong objective to promote history, heritage and knowledge and help share this amongst wider networks.
Community Focus volunteers in partnership with Halal Incorp helped raise funds and gathered donations to support an international development charitable project. The project was realised and undertaken in Karachi in the Sindh region of Pakistan. This project aimed to support and assist the most vulnerable, socially and economically deprived members of society in the Sub Continent. The project involved providing food for over fifty people. We supported women, children and elders, providing over thirty water bottles in a drought hit area. We also helped one family by providing funds to purchase life saving injections. Although this was a micro charity project it was still imperative to provide any support where possible. We are indebted to our volunteers who have always worked tirelessly to help other people in society locally, nationally and internationally who are in need of help and assistance. The most remarkable aspect is many of these volunteers themselves come from poor and deprived backgrounds. This international charity project helped people realise the importance of supporting those less fortunate and created solidarity across international boundaries. Community Focus is a micro voluntary organisation with small scale resources often donated by members and volunteers who provide large scale impact assisting societal development and community development. We remain committed to creating, planning and executing unique and visionary projects to assist humanitarian causes.
Community Focus members and volunteers in partnership with Halal Incorp helped raise money for food aid and assistance locally in Greater Manchester. The funds that were raised by volunteers helped purchase food items which were passed onto another charity organisation to distribute to those in need. Currently it is astounding that in 2016 people living in an economically developed country should be relying on Foodbanks and living in fear of food poverty. We take a strong stance against food poverty and aim to assist as many individuals and community members as possible to overcome hunger and food poverty. In the last few years many organisations and community groups have been formed to tackle food deprivation, poverty and hunger. This is a positive sign and displays the strength of social capital and community development. However authorities need to recognise the growing issue of food poverty and develop plans to tackle this issue effectively and eradicate it from contemporary society.
On Boxing Day, December 2015 a colossal level of floods wrecked havoc in Lancashire and parts of Greater Manchester. This difficult occasion however did bring people from different communities and backgrounds together. Many local people youth centres, volunteers, charities, mosques and churches played there part to help those affected by major floods. Heavy unprecedented rains hit these areas and rivers swelled to levels not seen in many years. River banks burst and flood houses, allotments, streets, cellars and residential as well as business properties. A small team of volunteers from Community Focus joined other volunteers and charities such as Al Khair and SKT to help with emergency flood relief, food distribution and the cleanup operation. The Youth base served as a HQ where local people delivered voluntary donation of equipment and food. Charities played an integral part in supplying generators, food and emergency flood packs. This tragic occurrence did allow the opportunity for community members to come together and support their local community. People from different backgrounds, religions cultures and races supported each other. Syrian refugees were on hand to support residents in Littleborough also. Mohammed Nadeem CF Chairperson said “I have never seen floods like this in my entire lifetime. It was a serious major incident where many homes and property was devastated by heavy rains and floods. We came out to help as many people as possible over several days. It was also great to see people helping each other in a time of crisis”
A CF volunteer had the opportunity to participate in a study visit to Bosnia and Herzegovina in early December, 2015. The project was organised by a Birmingham based charity called Remembering Srebrenica. There were approximately nineteen individuals who attended this study visit. The purpose of this visit was to help spread and raise awareness of the genocide which took place in Bosnia during 1992/1995. Over 100,000 people were killed during this time. Around 8000 men and boys were killed in Srebrenica. Many of the refugees were unarmed and penned in at the UN Headquarters which was subsequently abandoned. The refugees were handed over to the Serb armed forces who separated men and women. Thousands of men and boys were executed and disposed of in mass graves. The delegates visited the tunnel museum where they watched a video and listened to a presentation. The tunnels were used to move food, medicine amongst other items during the siege of Sarajevo. The delegates then visited the International Commission on Missing persons HQ in Sarajevo. The bus then left to take the delegation to the renowned Tariq Samarah’s gallery. The gallery houses the photographs and woks of Tariq a resident of Bosnia. His work was undertaken and collated post genocide. The delegates also visited the Podrinje identification Project in the form of a mortuary. There were a range of Skelton and skulls that had been found in mass graves. The project was set up to identify and reunite families with the remains of their loved ones through special testing methodologies.Participants visited the Potocari memorial centre and met Hasan Hasanović a genocide survivor and also had the emotional opportunity to meet some of the mothers of Srebrenica who lost their family members during the tragic and grotesque genocide. This project was unique in every manner and was extremely important in helping highlight what actually occurred in Bosnia during the early 1990’s. Genocide and mass murder are components of destruction and great pain. CF as an organisation maintain the need for peaceful dialogue between different groups and have a zero tolerance stance towards violence. The opportunity to participate in this project allowed individuals to delve into peace and reconciliation as well as increasing knowledge around a traumatic and terrible period in history.
A CF member had the opportunity to attend the annual Mend event in Manchester Town Hall. The event took place at the end of November. The event started off with a minute silence to remember the people who had lost their lives in the Paris attack. There was an introduction and a clarification of the event discussing aims and objectives by Dr Siema Iqbal. The event also included a live panel including speakers and representatives such as the General Secretary of the NUT, the Deputy Police Crime Commissioner and an Inspector from the National Association of Muslim Police amongst others. This was a positive event as it aimed to discuss some of the work Mend have been undertaking during the year and also allowed professionals to discuss their opposition to hate crime and Islamaphobia. Members of the audience also had the opportunity to ask the panel questions related to strategies and plans which were in place or could be developed to help curb the rise of Islamaphobia.
CF Volunteers communicated with local residents around a footpath which had become dilapidated and was damaged. This footpath was causing a potential risk to members of the public and people living in the locality. The tarmac had become loose and stones were spread all over the damaged footpath. After liaising with local community members in the area CF helped create social action by contacting local council teams in charge of highways and roads. Several pictures and emails were sent to council staff and after a number of weeks the footpath was repaired. This was important for local community members and it helped create a solution for a localised issue. This type of social action is positive and it helps community members tackle local issues and address problems through social action and community engagement. Helping facilitate this is a key part of CF’s focus as a grassroots voluntary organisation.