Centre Of Excellence Somlia Nhg

08 May 2024

Supporting the Somali community on Grahame Park

We’re partnered with the Center of Excellence, a local Somali community hub helping residents overcome barriers.

The centre is dedicated to strengthening bonds across the significant local Somali community by fostering a secure space for residents to connect with each other and share their experiences.

It has become a vital pillar in Grahame Park by helping residents overcome language and digital barriers, as well as cultural differences.

Hawa Abdi, director at the centre, said they have an important role in advocating for residents as they help them connect with services they may otherwise struggle to access:

“People come in every day with questions about healthcare, housing or welfare. We help people get through times of crisis and remind them that they’re not alone.”

There are a range of sessions held for different groups of people - one of these is the ‘Legends Group,’ which provides a chance for elderly people in the community to meet up and socialise once a month over tea and biscuits.

Language barriers among the older Somali community can lead to confidence issues in accessing mainstream elderly groups like Age UK, leaving the residents isolated and lonely at home.

Hawa said the older residents love coming down to the centre to have a catch up with each other: “The Legends Group gives the residents something to look forward to. We know how much the programme means to them.”

Another session run at the centre is the ‘Father and Son Project’ which provides a space for Somali boys and their fathers to engage with each other and meaningfully develop their relationship and bond.

Gaps in the relationship between first and second-generation Somali children and parents have formed in the community due to language and cultural differences.

Mental health can be a taboo subject in the Somali community particularly, which makes it difficult for those who need help.

The centre has seen a rise in mental health problems since the pandemic and gives residents the  option to either speak to them about their problems or be referred to mental health services in more serious cases.

Hawa explains: “This is why the creation of a safe and secure space that people feel comfortable and empowered to open up is so essential.”

We also fund football sessions run by the centre, free for local youngsters. With over 50 attendees last week, we’ve seen the sessions go from strength to strength.

Initially held inside in the Old Library Hall on the estate, due to increasing demand and popularity they are now playing on a larger outdoors astro turf pitch nearby.

Some of the parents are even going through their FA Coaching qualifications as part of our funding to make this community sports club sustainable and locally run in the long-term.

We have seen the significant impact the centre has had on local individuals and families through their incredible outreach programmes and advocacy work. This is why we’re committed to continuing our partnerships with vital community organisations such as this as we drive social impact in the local community, securing a lasting and positive legacy for our residents on Grahame Park during the regeneration.