Banbury Constituency Labour Party

Breaking Through Cultural Walls

“We feel there are walls around us,” said Assia Bibi speaking to Banbury CLP Women’s Group about the cultural norms and attitudes which had delayed her furthering her own education when a teenager.

Assia is manager of the Sunrise Multicultural Project which is dedicated to helping cultural minority girls and women cope with the pressures from traditional attitudes as they adapt to life in modern Britain, and to have better social, educational and work opportunities.

Founded 23 years ago, and based at 60 Orchard Way, Banbury, Sunrise provides advice and support to individuals and runs courses for newly arrived people (mostly from Pakistan and Poland and now living in Ruscote and Neithrop) such as basic skills or healthy eating. Kim Hodgkinson, who also works at the project, described the wide range of other services provided: Saturday clubs and youth groups, trips and outings designed to widen opportunities for children to enjoy play and leisure – and even a homework group for children who cannot get parental help because of language barriers.

Discussion followed on how men’s traditional attitudes may be changed, not least towards domestic violence, and the charity is trying to get Home Office funding to maintain a helpline for the victims of violence.

“Don’t give up”
This is the key message to cultural minority young people from the Sunrise Project. Thanks to support from funding agencies nationally and locally, their work goes from strength to strength, and the walls are beginning to crack.

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