Published Wednesday 11 September 2019 at 14:31
People from all walks of life and different neighbourhoods are sharing their opinions on life in Blackburn with Darwen.
Community Voices events have been taking place right across the borough – and there are more planned for September and October.
From Bank Top to Darwen, from Shadsworth to Witton, the events are designed to bring local people together to discuss what it’s like to live in the borough.
Run by the Tim Parry Johnathan Ball Peace Foundation, Community Voices sessions also provide a chance for residents to talk honestly about issues which are sometimes considered tricky or difficult. At previous sessions, people have discussed how much change there’s been in the borough over the last ten years, and how they feel about that. There have been debates about new communities moving into the borough, and other subjects to do with race, culture and belonging.
The Tim Parry Johnathan Ball Peace Foundation is a charity that was founded in memory of the two boys who were tragically killed in the IRA’s bombing of Warrington in 1993.
The Foundation’s lead facilitator Christine Cox said:
The events are a chance for everyone to speak out on key issues. They are being run as part of the Council’s Our Community, Our Future social integration programme.
Everyone is welcome to come and share their views and ideas at Community Voices events, and there’s food and refreshments at every session. You can register in advance – or just come along on the day and join in.
Here are dates of Community Voices events taking place over the next two months:
- Monday 16 September, 9.30am start at Bank Top Neighbourhood Learning Centre, Arthur Way, Blackburn BB2 1QP – please note this is a women only event
- Thursday 19 September, 3pm start at Care Network Hub, 9 Town Hall Street, Blackburn BB2 1AG – open to all
- Wednesday 25 September, 6pm start at St Oswald’s Community Hall, Fecitt Brow, Knuzden BB1 2AT – open to all
- Thursday 26 September, 6pm start at Witton Park City Learning Centre, Buncer Lane, Blackburn BB2 6TD – open to all
- Wednesday 2 October, 6pm start at Darwen Heritage Centre, Holker House, Railway Road, Darwen BB3 2RE – open to all
- Thursday 3 October, 12 noon start at Little Harwood Community Centre, Whalley Old Rd, Blackburn BB1 5PQ – please note this is a women only event
- Wednesday 16 October, 12 noon start at The Bureau Centre for the Arts, Penny St, Blackburn BB1 6HQ – open to all.
Samia Abdelrahman went along to a recent Community Voices event in Blackburn town centre. Speaking after the event, she said:
There was a lot of discussions and activities. The groups changed every now and then to make sure everyone was talking to each other. I felt so involved. I felt like my voice mattered and my issues mattered. It really makes me want to get involved, and I think that we could really see a change.
Councillor Mohammed Khan, Leader of Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council added:
These Community Voices events are an important part of our social integration work to understand local people’s attitudes to the diversity of our borough, and get their views on how well people from different backgrounds get along. They’re a brilliant way of breaking down barriers between people from different sections of the community, and getting them talking about the key local issues that matter to them.
Voices events are happening in lots of different venues all over the borough. I hope that people will take the opportunity to go along to an event near them.
The Peace Foundation is also organising Youth Voices events, similar sessions for young people aged 11 to 16 to take place during the autumn, through schools and youth clubs across the borough.
To find out more or register for any of these events, call 01925 581231 or 01254 304597 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also keep in touch with the Peace Foundation on Twitter at @peacefoundation.
The Community Voices and Youth Voices events are part of Blackburn with Darwen Council’s social integration programme, Our Community, Our Future. This is a three-year programme which brings together a wide range of local partners working together to strengthen relationships between people from different backgrounds, to help the borough become a place where diversity is valued and where people’s faith and cultures are understood and respected.