Sharma visits Indian Community Association to celebrate Big Lottery success

Reading West MP Alok Sharma visited the Indian Community Association (ICA) in Norris Road on Friday 22nd February to celebrate their success in winning a £10,000 grant from the Big Lottery Fund. During his visit, Alok also tried his hand at playing the tabla and cooking chapattis. ICA is one of seven projects in Reading which have received Big Lottery funding totalling more than a quarter of a million pounds.

The Community Centre was established over 30 years ago to provide a meeting place for the growing Indian communities in Reading and surrounding areas, and promoting and celebrating Indian festivals and cultural activities to all local communities.

The ICA is grant-aided and managed by a team of trustees, led by Chairman Mr Santokh Singh, who all give their time voluntarily. The day-to-day running of the Community Centre is delegated to two part-time staff, Mrs Veera Gupta, Centre Manager, and Farah Latif.

The £10,000 grant from the Big Lottery Fund will be used to support cultural activities which take place at the Centre. The funding will help to promote Street and Bollywood Dance, Tabla and Dhol Drumming, and exercising to Bhangra music. It will also assist towards lCA’s annual cultural event at the Hexagon in Reading.

Mr Pandher, lead trustee on cultural activities, said: “This grant will go a long way to ensure that ICA can continue with showcasing its cultural activities at the Centre as well as through its annual Dhoom Dhamaka programme held at the Hexagon Theatre in Reading during the summer.”

The Community Centre has a wide range of activities serving the young, middle-aged as well as senior citizens in the community, with some activities dedicated solely for women. For the young, ICA has an After School Care Club, music classes to learn how to play Indian drums, Indian dance classes and language classes to learn popular Indian languages including Hindi, Punjabi, Gujarati and Bengali. For adult community members the ICA offers Basic Computer Skills, Numeracy and Literacy courses, and Signposting. For women there are Zumba classes, Pilates, Yoga sessions and Swimming. The Senior Citizens Club at ICA brings together older members of the communities and runs a Luncheon Club, Chairobics, and Light Exercises for the 50+.

Alok said: “I was delighted to visit the Indian Community Association and to be received in such a warm and welcoming manner. It is excellent that the ICA has secured this extra funding from the Big Lottery Fund. The Association has been working for many years, taking the time to put something back into the community, and I am pleased that this is being recognised.”

Veera Gupta, Centre Manager at the Indian Community Association, said: “The Big Lottery Fund is a much needed boost towards the Centre’s cultural activities and we are confident that we will be able to contribute towards promoting cultural diversity in the area.”

Photos: (Top) Alok trying out the tabla at the Indian Community Association, (Centre) Helping to cook chapattis and (Bottom) Celebrating the Big Lottery grant at the Indian Community Association

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