Bradford Stories: Heaton Connected
Highlights of Bradford culture, nominated by Hidden Bradford
The next part of our series on Bradford Stories is written by Cllr Mohammad Shabbir, the highly respected Councillor for Heaton. Here he explains a little about Heaton and introduces us to some of the amazing community projects happening there.
The late Stanley King’s book, ‘Heaton: The Best Place of All’, is, I think an apt title to describe this wonderful place. The history of Heaton is important in knowing how the landscape was shaped. However, I believe it is more important being involved in recreating this shared space into becoming more of a vibrant place to live. Critical to this development is a thriving civil community.
This civil life is shaped by the individual bonds which naturally spring up between people who know each other through family bonds, relationships or friendship. Transcending beyond natural ties involves bridging the divide between people. In this connection as a local councillor I feel privileged to have come across some amazing people who are working tirelessy to make connections between people, groups and the wider community.
One of these groups is the Heaton Chellows which brings together diverse groups of people to help as volunteers in their local community. A Chellow is the name for a community member who volunteers to support other community members supports, advises and links people to key agenices and support systems. The Chellows organisation has well developed volunteering programmes and delivers a range of community activities and is a life line to some people. The amazing aspect of their work is that it has people from all communities involved in helping one another.
Another group is the Frizinghall Partnership based within St. Margaret’s Church, which is itself an active and vibrant place of worship. The partnership has been involved in youth work, community building, developing community links between organisations, people and communities. Along with the St. Margaret’s Church is the emerging Shane Islam mosque, led by young people, aiming to get more people involved in the local community.
Heaton is full of these excellent groups, such as the Heaton Woods Trust, Upper Heaton Working Together, Minhaj Ul Quran Trust, Heaton Township Association, Heaton Allotments Association and any more besides.
However, the best groups I believe are localised and at street level. It is people living together and taking time to meet and getting to know each other that makes the real impact. A really good example of this ‘connecting’ is a group of people on Spring Gardens Road who have come together, cleared and landscaped their back street and made it into a communal space. Or the great work of Salem Cricket Club that was involved in bringing Imams and Priests from Bradford together and play a similar team from Leicester. These are the real visible bridges that we need to traverse. Communities begin and develop from the centre and that centre in any community is people recognising that they have a role to play.
From Stoney Ridge to Canal Road, in the valley below, Heaton is moving forward and has the foundations to recreate a shared landscape for the future. We may differ on the detail but the overall picture is one of similarity. So framing this picture into a few words I would say let’s ‘connect’ and build ‘bridges’ through taking individual responsibility and becoming involved in community groups. A good example of this was the late Stanley King, former Lord Mayor of Bradford.
Heaton is One so let’s make Bradford One a success.
Cllr M Shabbir