Community centre enriches the lives of locals

29 September, 2021 9:16 am

Community-centered learning is a pillar of adult education. This informal approach to learning offers adults a relaxed and inclusive environment, while giving them the opportunity to integrate with members of the community.

As part of the Festival of Learning; a national campaign which celebrates lifelong learning, we’re shining a spotlight on key community centres which inspire and empower individuals in the area.

Bangladeshi Community Association

This month, we’re taking a look at the Bangladeshi Community Association; a Keighley-based non-profit organisation which aims to better the lives of the Bangladeshi and local residents by providing services, activities and events.

Keen to make a lasting imprint on the community, the centre’s staff and volunteers work with members of the community and local organisations to improve and develop the area, as well as voicing the views of the Bangladeshi community.

Collaboration with Keighley College

As part of the collaborative work undertaken with Keighley College, each week two teachers from the college visit the centre to teach maths, English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL), reflexology and exercise for women.

Sam Stelling, Community-led Learning Development Tutor at Keighley College, commented on the work done with the centre: “We’re committed to building bridges between our college and the community centres by showcasing the many benefits of lifelong learning. So far, our classes have had some great engagement; it’s fantastic to see adults, especially women, of all ages engaging in fun learning activities. Some progress into college where they can access further courses and others benefit from dropping into the college based Skills Lab, which they use for one-to-one support in personal development and employability.

“From 20 September, we’ll be introducing new courses including teaching assistant, DIY for women and African drumming. As many of the members find the prospect of college intimidating, our role is to bring stimulating learning experiences to them where they feel most comfortable.

“The work I do with the Bangladeshi Community Association is extremely rewarding; the connections I’ve made and the lasting friendships I’ve seen blossom has been wonderful. We now want to spread the word about this centre, the value it adds to the community and encourage adults to find out more.”

Shining a light on the centre

The four-strong centre team is made up of the centre manager, administrator, citizens advice consultant and a facilities manager.

We caught up with Hajera Ansari, who is the centre administrator and receptionist at the centre.

“The centre acts as a focal point for the Bangladeshi community, offering support, guidance and helping people to become more independent. As well as offering various classes, such as basic skills, sewing and exercise, we run an advice centre which helps individuals with issues such as benefits, immigration, jobs, translation and form filling. 

“Community centres are vital for improving adults’ wellbeing; they have the opportunity to improve their skills which will benefit them in the future. These environments also help adults feel comfortable in a place which is familiar to them, allowing them to build relationships and become more confident and independent.

“A lot of the centre users see it as a second home, where they can make a real difference to their lives by learning different skills, engaging with a diverse range of people and enhancing their knowledge.”

Shelina Khanom, Keighley-resident who studied Foundation Studies at Keighley College, commented: “I used to go to the sewing classes at Bangladeshi Community Association, which allowed me to learn new skills. 

“I have now started to do the exercise and maths classes with Sam; it’s great fun and has really boosted my confidence.”

Find out more about the Bangladeshi Community Centre here.