Connecting Communities Winner 2021

Pamoja Music UK

Pamoja Music UK creates opportunities for people of migrant backgrounds to express themselves through music and connect with other new arrivals and the local people of Coventry. The project also aims to reduce social isolation, running social clubs, workshops and open mic nights as well as building confidence and supporting people to record their music and gain training into a music career.

The founder, Mamajay Juliet, has been working in her local Coventry community for over 10 years bringing people from different backgrounds together through music.

Read what the judging panel said about this project:

Pamoja Music brings a fresh approach to connecting different groups in the community. This unique model is shaped by the direct experience of its founder, Mamajay, and her subsequent long-standing work in the local community. The project creates opportunities for migrants to share their music in mainstream contexts, thereby fostering new connections between between migrant musicians, other new arrivals, settled groups and the local people of Coventry. While Covid-19 social distancing measures have prevented in-person gatherings and performances, the project supported participants to record and rehearse music, providing a creative outlet to express their own experiences of the pandemic and to develop skills and confidence to share music once people are able to come together again.

Equality, Access & Rights Winner 2021

Middle eastern women and society organisation

MEWSo was founded in 2010 to provide support and advice to Middle Eastern, North African and Asian women on a number of complex issues including domestic violence support, polygamy, virginity testing, LGBT+ issues as well as campaigning for change. The organisation is built on the values of secularism, solidarity and social justice.

During the Covid-19 Pandemic MEWSo adapted effectively in order to respond to increasing need and provided remote support to women at risk during lockdown as well as addressing digital access barriers among those they work with.

Read what the judging panel said about this project

MEWSo has a strong, proven track record in supporting under- and mis- represented groups to access rights and equality. Their experience-led approach is key in both the provision of support and developing solutions to the complex issues they work on. This work stands out due to its unique position as a peer-led organisation working at the intersection of very challenging issues. Crucially, during the pandemic, they adapted their service to effectively push their work forward at a time when it was most needed. MEWSo are well placed to achieve their aims of increasing their campaigning work, building on their expertise and sustained achievements and the judging panel hope this award will support them to do so.

Safety for all Winner 2021

Bees and Refugees

Bees and Refugees was founded at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, in February 2020, with the aim to address mental health needs, particularly PTSD, and isolation that refugees experience while trying to make a new life for themselves after arriving in the UK. The project emerged out of founder Ali’s first-hand experience. Bees and Refugees is creating a network of trained refugee beekeepers who will support their local communities with beekeeping therapy workshops and producing local ethical raw honey. This work aims to build bridges between refugees and their local communities.

During the pandemic the project has also provided safe, outdoor activities to local communities to support mental health as well as therapy workshops to unaccompanied children asylum seekers.

Read what the judging panel said about this project

Judges felt that Bees and Refugees has a unique way of bridging communities, which involves not only connecting different people to each other, but also to their environment in a way that supports mental health and wellbeing. Underpinned by the lived experience of Ali, the project’s refugee founder, the judges felt that this work stood out in how it was able to deliver this support in a safe and sustainable way during the pandemic, with a longer-term vision to reach more marginalised communities in the future.

Find out more and follow on social media:

Twitter: @RefugeesBees

Instagram: beesandrefugees

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