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June 18, 2015

London - Somali community office in Kingston closed due to government cuts

(Medeshi)- Closing of The Somali Community office in Kingston
Community workshop at Piper Hall in Kingston 

The office of the Somali Community Association in Kingston upon Thames was closed on June 8, 2015  due to cuts to local funding by the government. Our partners , the African Positive Look had to render the shared office back to the landlord after they also could not pay for their share of the rent.

Minimal services are currently delivered at a temporary desk at Richard Mayo Centre in Kingston while working with other stake holders to find a permanent solution to the funding issues of the charity. 

The Association which is a registered Charity Company was founded on Dec 2006 by (Medeshi) along with local members of Somali decent.

The initial aims of the charity included:
"To promote general charitable purposes for the benefit of the  communities of Kingston Upon Thames and the surrounding area, and to provide relief from financial hardship and social and/or economic disadvantage and to advance the education of its residents of all ages; and in particular to provide opportunities for the aforementioned residents to participate fully in the life of their community in ways which address and alleviate social and economic disadvantage".

The charity has supported an average of 400 people annually on matters relating to accessing welfare and social services as well education and health services. The office served as an access point where community members came and were given access to free telephone services , IT training and computers , printing documents and advocacy matters. Activities outside the office included  holding worships on mental health awareness issues, community well-being , after-school classes and training adults on eating healthy food. 
After-school classes at Piper Hall

It is obvious that most of the Somali Community members in Kingston are now more marginalised than ever as the voluntary services are brought to halt by lack of support from Kingston council . And while lavish funding is  given by the council to less priority groups , our community is left to be excluded at the social housing estates in the Borough without the proper advice , free telephone services , cultural and language support that had been provided by our dedicated members of the community for the last 9 years.

The Somali community in Kingston upon Thames are very much concerned about the closure of their office and call upon the local authority to look for a permanent solution to the funding issues of the Somali Association. We also hope that some of those in the decision making at the community development and voluntary sector in the council will take note of this and support sustainability of the community services in the Borough.