Awards Spotlight - SOORA
Introducing SOORA (Social Orientation and Relief Association), Promoting Inclusion Award Winner
Why do you love what you do? We feel that our community is below the living standard of other communities in the area in terms of education, health and social integration. The needs of our community motivated us to establish a community centre and charitable organisation. I am Health Training Officer and Deputy Director; my role is to improve the health and well-being of my community.
We teach English, we provide free employability training and free health training to improve the health and well-being of our community, we run safety sessions for our young people to avoid crime and anti-social behaviour.
What is your proudest moment from the work you’ve done in your community? Our proudest achievement is that we have trained 57 refugee and migrant adults in our area, half of which subsequently went on to employment and achieved self-reliance. Beforehand, most of the participants were unable to speak English and were feeling lonely because they were not able to communicate with other people, but now they can speak, write and read English as well as communicate with people in terms of work, health services, etc. They can now support their children as well as themselves.
We are also proud of our knife crime awareness campaign in the West Midlands throughout 2018/19, by the end of the 2019 we feel that knife crime has reduced significantly in our community.
The Awards are about bringing people together, what would you like to see in Walsall to support those from different backgrounds and areas to come together. Food clubs and fun fair activities are good ideas to bring the people together. I would like to see an increase in community cohesion, more events such as a cultural festival with competition activities so every community can demonstrate their food, culture or anything else that differentiates them from other communities.
Can you tell us about an individual or organisation that you admire and why? One Walsall. I admire them firstly for their support to newly established communities and associations, not only in ours, but they support all organisations who need help to complete community paperwork. Secondly, I admire them because they motivate community and voluntary organisations to improve their productivity and services. Thanks One Walsall, and everyone who has supported us.
Can you share something that you have learnt during the pandemic? The pandemic had a big impact on our services. For example, our donors suspended ongoing project funding that was used to cover staff salaries and premises expenses, we also lost the monthly subscription from our community members because most were furloughed. Clients were scared to visit our centre, so loneliness and isolation increased.