Baraka Community Association is a West London charity that strives to boost the integration and success of BME communities by supporting educational attainment, opportunities for personal development and access to mainstream society.
A bit of history: Baraka was established in 2000. The Somali community in West London traditionally suffered from low educational attainment, a lack of integration and problems of drugs and crime. Baraka sought to change this, identifying raising educational standards as the key first step.
From humble beginnings organising football sessions for the local community, Baraka has integrated and expanded– so it now serves more of the West London community, equipping them with a broader range of academic and life skills. Baraka is now a hub for healthy and positive engagement for local people across West London.
Teaching: Baraka seeks to maximise the educational attainment of the children and young people who attend our classes.
We offer homework and study facilities for school-age students, with Maths, English and Science lessons taught by outstanding teachers. Baraka also offers homework clubs. We have seen results improve exponentially, with more and more Baraka students going on to university education.
Achieving impressive academic results provides a huge boost for the integration of children and young people from minority ethnic backgrounds into mainstream British culture.
Baraka also provides adult education, in written and spoken English. This encourages the learner to be more independent and to contribute to their local community. And we provide enriching and deepening classes that complement the curriculum and encourage self-expression, such as creative writing, poetry and drawing.
Social: Baraka offers a range of exciting opportunities for travel to children and young people who might not otherwise have the chance. Our annual residential trip has been visiting the Hindleap Warren Outdoor Centre in East Sussex since 2005. At the centre, the young people get to participate in activities such as water sports, climbing and orienteering.
We have arranged other trips to the English countryside and the seaside, giving the young people and Parents a chance to get out of London and sample some of the rich variety of experiences on offer in Britain.
In 2012, Baraka took a group from London to Sweden to experience life in Scandinavia. They met with Swedish-Somali children with whom they bonded. They also developed their independence, leadership skills and problem-solving skills as much of the money for the trip was raised by the children themselves. The Sweden visit was a huge success, one that allowed the young people to bond and to see another country and another culture.
As well as these outings, Baraka is also a focal point of social support to local people in West London. This includes coffee mornings for single mothers and stay-at-home mothers, as well as meals that enable the community to get together and enjoy each other’s company.
Community Advice / Guidance: Baraka provides advice on parenting school admissions, healthy living and legal support. Such support enables easier integration and inclusion in society, and helps people access services, education, training, scholarships and employment. Baraka provides this through one-to-one support as well as workshops and seminars.
Outreach: Baraka targets ‘at risk’ young people identified as being in danger of drifting into alienation and criminality. ‘Graduates’ from Baraka, those who have already benefited from the services provided, work as role models and peer mentors. We also engage with schools, youth services and parents to maximise the chances of vulnerable young people staying in mainstream society.
Some of the Baraka young people have also turned their hands to helping teach IT skills to the older generations. This retention of young people with valuable skills as volunteers is proving inspirational to the younger generation.
Baraka’s young people have taken part in debates and are granted other opportunities to try out public speaking and boost their confidence by being encouraged to take part in meetings with government officials.
Sports: Baraka provides children and young people with free football, gym sessions and swimming. We also arrange for children to take their Duke of Edinburgh awards. These organised activities are key to enabling healthy, social, mainstream lives for local families, and some programmes are designed specifically for young women.
Creative Projects: Baraka has carried out a number of projects for young people in recent years. These have included the ongoing ‘Garden of Hope’ project with Groundwork London in which young children grew their own vegetables on an allotment.
Another project, with Transport for London, meant that the children could showcase their artistic talents by designing posters for TFL’s ‘Art Underground’ project to brighten up a number of tube stations.
BCA Talks: Under the hashtag #BCATalks, Baraka has hosted a number of public lectures and discussions on key civil society issues, such as terrorism, propaganda, conspiracy theories and women in Islam.
The ongoing series of talks has seen Baraka work with academics, civil society organisations and the Home Office.
Grenfell: Following the Grenfell Tower fire disaster in June 2017, Baraka provided tangible relief and assistance. This ranged from practical everyday support to taking families away from North Kensington to enjoy the summer holiday.
Baraka’s support for affected families is ongoing and has included holiday activities for children and community get-together. Baraka has worked closely with other community organisations to ensure that those affected access the appropriate services.
Who we serve: Although most Baraka service users are of Somali origin, the organisation caters for all vulnerable and recently-arrived minority ethnic communities in West London.
Our Main office is in the Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, near the borders with Brent and Westminster, and we also serve families from Hammersmith and Fulham.
EDUCATION & OUTREACH
Doing What’s Needed
Tackling the Issue
Making a Difference