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The Pakistan and Kashmir Welfare Association (PKWA) is a grassroots, community association operating from a purpose-built centre in the heart of Batley. We are committed to providing social, welfare and educational services to the general public, and in particular to the Pakistani and Kashmiri communities, of Batley; and to campaigning for positive social change on a range of issues.


The PKWA was established by a group of community activists in 1990. At the outset the PKWA had no premises or resources, and initial meetings were held at the homes of the founding members, who also supported the development of the organisation from their own personal resources. The initiative to form the Association arose out of growing concerns that locally the people of the Pakistani and Kashmiri community were facing exclusion in a number of key areas, such as health, housing, education and employment. Evidence from community consultation, local authority surveys and census data, as well as the anecdotal experiences reported by the community, indicated that the Pakistani and Kashmiri communities were suffering from extraordinarily high levels of poverty, ill-health, and unemployment; and the feeling was that the situation was likely to become permanent for the next generations unless serious remedial action was taken to tackle the root causes.

The founder members put together a mission statement and one of the terms of reference was to establish a community centre to meet the needs of the community. In the mid 90's, after many long struggles, the PKWA won funding from Batley City Challenge to build a community centre, and in 1998 the building was officially opened. Initially, the centre was manned entirely by volunteers, as we only received a capital grant from Batley City challenge, and neither Batley City Challenge nor Kirklees Council provided any revenue funding to pay for a centre manager, development worker or other key workers. Undaunted by the difficult task that we had set ourselves; we commenced our work programme with four key aims always in mind:

1. To alleviate the acute problems within the South Asian community of Batley; which we identified as high unemployment, social deprivation, low educational attainment, low participation in community activities, and poor involvement in community activities by Asian women.
2. To promote good relations, a positive image and a higher profile for the Asian community in Batley in the social and business context.
3. To work in collaboration with other agencies and communities to address the disadvantage faced by the Pakistani and Kashmiri communities, and to support other disadvantaged communities.
4. To provide a means for improving information and advice around health and social care issues, and to improving access to health and social services.
Over the years since the PKWA Centre opened we have not received a single penny from Kirklees Council to meet core costs, yet we have still managed to use the building as a base to provide a bewildering array of services and activities, and to co-ordinate several important research projects and campaigns. Below is a list of just some of the activities that we are currently engaged in or that we have provided in the past:


PKWA have undertaken and facilitated a number of research projects into the health and social needs of the local South Asian community.

· The Mental Health needs analysis for the South Asian community North Kirklees.
· The Asian Carers needs analysis, North Kirklees.
· Department of Health funded research into ethnicity, drugs and offending.
· Research into the social support needs of Asian elders.
· The support needs analysis of young Asian carers in North Kirklees.
· The support needs analysis of single parents and teenage parents in the South Asian community.
· The housing support needs analysis of young Asians.
· The support needs analysis of young Asian's with drug and alcohol dependencies.
· The childcare support needs analysis of South Asian parents in North Kirklees.

· ESOL classes for women.
· ESOL classes for men.
· Sewing classes for women.
· Shama older women's group.
· Respect older men's group.
· Roshan women's mental health group.
· Rashme men's mental health group.
· Internet drop-in sessions.
· Interpreting & translation service.
· Cultural events.
· Benefits advice.
· Facilities for weddings and social functions.
· Surgeries for immigration & nationality matters.
· Alim extended learning centre.
· Private tuition classes.
· KIDZ SPACE out of school & holiday club for school aged children.
· Community education and raising standards of achievement for school children.
· Youth club and youth residential visits and trips.
· Apna men's carers group.
· Hamara women's carers group.
· Carers respite garden and room.
· Nextstep information, advice & guidance service.
· Social services contract for mental health day care service.
· Hamdard advocacy service
· Summer play schemes.
· No-Jawan personal advice service for young people.
· Healthy eating/exercise programmes.
· Training courses on personal & professional development, e.g. assertiveness, confidence building, cultural diversity training, time management, ICT, communication skills, bilingual skills development, coping with and challenging racism etc.


General halls: two large halls for public meetings, weddings, etc. Can be joined into one extra large hall.

Training suite 1: classroom / meeting room, can accommodate up to 30 people.

Training suite 2: flexible use space, can serve as meeting room, crèche & classroom, can accommodate up to 60 people & can be divided into two separate suites.

ICT suite: 12 broadband networked PCs.

Kitchen: semi-commercial kitchen, can be used as training facility for catering classes.

Therapeutic garden site with 16 individual beds for use by community groups.

Extensive range of toys and educational materials for ages 2 to 11

Jumping Jacks outdoor play area.

Office & reception support facilities.

Flexible and competitive catering services available

Parking space for up to 50 cars.


Whilst we have come a long way in our relatively short history, there are still great inequalities faced by the Pakistani and Kashmiri communities of North Kirklees in the key areas of health, education, employment and housing; and some days it feels as if things are worse now than they were in 1990 when the PKWA was first established. Indeed, in some areas things have taken a downturn. Over the last few years, for instance, there has been a massive increase in the numbers of Pakistani and Kashmiri men entering the prison system -the disengaged schoolchildren that we saw in the early 1990s, these are the children of the first generation settlers, who have turned to drugs and petty crime in the absence of other positive choices. And with a depressing inevitability, the resettlement and drug treatment services have not managed to culturally align themselves to the needs of these young men, and once in the prison system they are far less likely than their white counterparts to access the services that will support them on release and help prevent them re-offending.

And of course we cannot ignore the changed political context caused by the British invasion of Iraq and the terrible London bombings of July '05. These events have left many ordinary Pakistani and Kashmiri people feeling like terror suspects by default in the country which they regard as their home; and those same events have also raised some enormously serious questions about how the mainstream Muslim community can tackle extremist elements within our midst, whilst at the same time reserving the right to legitimate dissent about what many consider to be Britain's deeply misguided foreign policy.

Both these issues are informing our vision for the future. We are currently working to develop a post custody resettlement service for South Asian ex-offenders, which we hope will offer a viable alternative to an offending lifestyle. We are also continuing to engage in the debate following the London bombings, and have made repeated commitments to support any work that challenges violence and promotes only legitimate dissent.

However, our primary strategic aim for the future is the same now as it was in 1990: namely, to develop positive relationships with the local policy makers and service providers, in order to better inform the development of policy and the delivery of services. It must be said that we have not always felt that our aims and the aims of the policy-makers have been in concert, and we have become wary of being used simply to enable over-stretched officials to 'tick the race inclusion box', without actually affecting any real improvements in the lives of our community members. We have learned that as a cash-strapped community organisation, there is often an assumption that we will be persuaded to deliver health and welfare services at unsustainable prices, simply to bring in much needed resources; and to this end it has been in the interests of those over-stretched officials to keep us in a state of penury, ever-willing to accept any crumbs from the table. But it is not the PKWA's mission to assist bureaucrats to meet their bureaucratic obligations, and we will continue to put the wider interests of the local Pakistani and Kashmiri communities before the short term interests of the PKWA as an organisation - regardless of the cost to the PKWA. We do, however, continue to work towards persuading the policy makers that sustaining impoverished racial ghettos is not in the long term interests of either the Pakistani and Kashmiri communities, or of wider society; and that in the end everybody pays the price for poverty.

We will continue to work to the principle that the muscle that meets no resistance does not grow strong (with PKWA being the resistance). To that ends we will continue to perform the role of critical friend to the local policy makers, be they the local Primary Care Trusts, the Government Office, or the Local Authority. We will also continue to work to change the culture of policy-makers, so that our comments are sought before they are expressed as criticisms, and that when criticisms are made that they are listened to as constructive attempts to assist improvement, and not simply dismissed or excused out of fear of blame.