A Bradford community group have received the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service from the Lord-Lieutenant of West Yorkshire, Ed Anderson on behalf of the Queen.
The award was given to Bradford Moor’s Play and Support Service (PASS) for engaging and empowering marginalised members of the community with educational, recreational and support services.
The award ceremony recognised people who have made a difference in the community, from an elder who runs knitting and craft sessions to young people who are instrumental in running sports activities and other sessions for youth in the area.
The ceremony was held at Attock Park Community Garden, an area of Bradford Moor that is beautifully kept by the generous volunteers at the community garden project, with handsome looking flowers in plant pots, hanging baskets, and charming chickens and roosters kept in a coop at the back of the park.
The volunteer-led organisation has been recognised for the services it has delivered across its community and in particular, the hardest to engage young people over the last thirteen years.
The grassroots organisation has the betterment of the community at the heart of what they do which is why they have been so successful in creating and constantly improving the area.
The group’s humble beginnings started in 2005 when the founders came together to start a movement to improve their surroundings. PASS became an official group in 2007 and in 2011 they signed the paperwork to become a not-for-profit organisation.
Mr Amjid Hussain, one of the Directors of PASS, was the first speaker at the event, where he spoke about the origins of the organisation. He said: “Back in 2005, a group of us had a conversation about what we could do outside of our jobs to see if there was something we could give back to young people and provide more opportunities for them, in turn.
“It was very informal for the first couple of years, we started with few activities. It wasn’t until 2007 that we decided to get the ball rolling properly, with a lot of support from some of the local councillors at the time, and we managed to get the cabin that we work from put down in that year.
“The cabin gave us a presence in the community, a place that allowed us to be based in the heart of the community and for people to access us. It was 2011 that we were formally constituted and started to work with wider organisations.”
The very successful PASS model of community transformation has relied on training and supporting volunteers to get involved in their community and have a voice in local governance. During his speech, Mr Hussain said that: “All of our volunteers are local and I would say live within a square mile of the area, but it might even be within half or a quarter of a square mile of the park.
“The real strength of this is that it allows us to have a vested interest in the place, everyone volunteering for us want to see a better Bradford Moor because most of us live here, most of us have grown up here, and most of are not really going anywhere. We want to see our children and the young people in the area, actually grow up in this area and have more than we did when we were younger.”
Bradford Moor PASS has catalyzed the mobilisation of professional volunteers to deliver change and transformation in one of the most socially and economically deprived wards in the country.
Her Majesty’s Lord- Lieutenant of West Yorkshire Ed Anderson proudly presented the group with their award and certificate at the ceremony. He noted that in the previous selection process for the Queen’s Award last year there were only three groups from West Yorkshire. This year, after encouragement, to get more groups recognised for their work, 19 groups from across the country were given the Queen’s Award for their outstanding contributions.
PASS run many projects in the community, with the aim to engage everyone in the area, including young people and elders. They run the community garden, a bike club, youth sports and development programmes, a women’s market, social enterprise and support and a homework club during term-time.
Taj Chair of BD3 Unite, local resident and Bradford Moor PASS volunteer, said: “It’s great to see Pass recognized for delivering bottom-up solutions that have really created meaningful change, especially for young people. They have turned a virtually abandoned park and turned it into a thriving centre for community action and an engine for promoting cohesion”.
The addition of the community garden, funded by Bradford Council and Spearheaded by Saira Ali, Team Leader, landscape design and conservation, has enabled Bradford Moor PASS to support local residents to take ownership and pride in their local park and become a hub for local people to tackle issues of anti-social behaviour, get people interested in nature and its preservation and bring the community together across age and ethnicity groups.
Mr Hussain said: “Thanks to the Landscape, Design and Conservation Team at Bradford Council, a space that was unutilised and neglected, has become a much-beloved and constantly used space which will now be a fitting venue for another cherished memory for in the history of this Park.
“This model of hyper-local, community-led activism has been extremely successful in driving lasting and sustainable change.”
Gazanfar Khaliq, Ex Lord Mayor and retired Councillor, said: “The trust and confidence that PASS has achieved from the local community and key stakeholder organisations are unparalleled and this is rooted in the passion and commitment of its volunteers and staff that make a difference locally every day”.