SCA was established in December 2000 and is an umbrella network of 100+, mainly small and new, community groups working in Southall. The majority of these groups support BMER users and represent the Somali, Indian, Tamil, Afghan communities etc.
Our constituted aims are:
- To develop the skills and capacity of disadvantaged groups and communities in Southall
- To enable Southall groups to identify and meet their needs and participate more fully in society
- To promote equality, good race relations and community cohesion at a local level
- Provide facilities and activities specifically targeted at ethnic minority communities
- To bring together local businesses, residents and voluntary sector groups
- To act as a forum to represent the common interests of the community
- To develop and promote a shared vision for the regeneration of the area
Southall Community Alliance (SCA) has a history that involves local residents and organisations stretching back over three decades in Southall.
Unified Community Action (UCA)
In 1981 Ken Anderson, the then Ealing Council director of Social Services, highlighted the need for a comprehensive community program at a youth committee meeting of the Ealing Racial Equality Council (HREC). Following this meeting this concept was taken up by Yinnon Ezra (HREC) and funding was found by the Council to develop a Unified Community Action (UCA) programme, with co-ordinators employed in Acton and in Southall. The Southall worker was called Ashok Vashudev.
UCA could be seen as a response of those times to inner-city riots that had taken place around the UK and the organisation adopted a sectoral representation involving organisations and agencies that represented young people, women, religious groups and Councillors. Initially the organisation was based at Southall Library and then moved to a ground floor office on The Green. UCA also occupied space within Southall Community Centre. In this early period the organisation had a number of different chairs including Piara Khabra MP, Amarjit Khera, Ravi Jain and Harsev Bains. There were four UCA branches : in Southall, Acton, Hanwell and Northolt, Perivale and Greenford. The Southall UCA was particularly effective and received paperwork relating to every Ealing Council committee and was asked to comment on these and to contribute to discussions about local services and consultations. On one occasion the organisation commented upon the misuse of section 11 educational funds. In 1991 UCA was closed by Ealing Council. However Ealing CVS helped set up a new organisation, also based upon the principle of sectoral representation. This new organisation was called the Southall Area Community Network (SACN) and the group received approximately £1600 per year funding to cover printing and postage costs. As with the earlier organisation, there were four area community networks around Ealing.
SACN arranged quarterly meetings that focused upon local issues. The four ACN chairs were made trustees of Ealing CVS and the organisation had no staff, being run purely by volunteers. Harsev Bains originally from the Indian Youth Association was the Chair and Mrs Balvinder Kaur Chahal was Vice-Chair. The SACN had it’s office in Southall Town Hall and significantly was involved in successfully objecting to the first attempted sale of the Town Hall by Ealing Council in 1994.
Southall Community Alliance (SCA)
By the turn of the century the SACN was evolving into another organisation, that provided community voice. The Area Community Network was changed in December 2000 and the Southall Community Alliance was established as a company. Although established late in 2000, SCA’s journey as a resourced organisation only really began in 2002/03 with the advent of the national Neighbourhood Renewal programme. This new programme sought to tackle economic and social disadvantage by targeting resources at areas with the highest levels of deprivation At that time this included three large social housing areas in Southall : Havelock, Golflinks and Windmill Park housing estates.
Alongside the £2.06 million investment in these areas, Ealing Council also established a Local Strategic Partnership (LSP) in January 2002 to bring together organisations from the public, business and community sectors to focus on improving service delivery and quality of life. SCA was one of six voluntary sector organisations that were represented on the LSP. In order to help kick start the organisation, SCA received £30,000 of Neighbourhood Renewal Funding in 2000/03 and £60,000 in 2003/04 to employ staff and develop as a local network.
At around the same time, SCA was funded through the Government Office for London to deliver community cohesion work in Southall, that sought to build bridges between new and established diverse communities. One specific target we were set was to work with local community organisations and increase the participation of the Somali community in civic life. SCA initially committed to offering a hot desk facility at a new community resource that we wanted to develop. In October 2002 the organisation employed its first worker, Jagroop Kaur Dhillon, as an interim Network and Community Development Manager. By 2003 SCA was able to employ two new full time staff, Janpal Basran and Priya Chaphekar, as the Manager and Administrative Officer respectively.
Premises – Resource Centre
One of the main needs of the fledgeling organisation was to find premises from which staff could operate. However, we also realised that there were numerous small organisations in Southall who similarly had no access to office resources and we sought to identify a site at which we could develop facilities sufficient to meet all these needs. After examining various sites, a vacant property at 10 High Street (formerly the Butt Tandoori Restaurant) was brought to our attention. The building was in a state of great disrepair and after many months of difficult negotiations SCA was able to acquire a 7 year lease on the property, at a peppercorn rent. We were then able to use our Neighbourhood Renewal resources to invest in capital refurbishment and developed a groundbreaking Resource Centre that had free hot desks for local groups, meeting space, back office support, a mailing address and accommodated a youth radio station (British Born Asians) on site. The creation of this Resource Centre was a major achievement and success. Not only did the building address our own needs but it began to realise our ambition of assisting partner organisations and residents living in the area. In the years that followed the Resource Centre would either accommodate or assist 25-35 voluntary organisations each year, from a wide a range of ethnic and faith backgrounds.
From its inception, SCA adopted an open and inclusive approach to working with partner groups. From 2004 onwards, not only were we assisting many local organisations in a variety of ways but we ourselves were a member of other local and borough wide networks such as the LSP, Ealing Community Network, West London Network Steering Group, BMER Forum, Dormers Wells Service Improvement Group etc. This was a very exciting phase within the development of the organisation and highlighted a growing appreciation of SCA as the voice for the local sector and a source of help with all things to do with Southall.
Membership and support
As SCA grew and developed, so did our membership expand and diversify. In 2004 we had 43 organisational members, the majority of whom were groups working in the Southall area. By 2010 our member organisations numbered over 115 groups. This large expansion in membership was due to a number of factors. Firstly, an actual growth in the local voluntary sector corresponding to the emergence of more newly arrived communities. Secondly, the emergence of SCA as the main source of support for local organisations. Thirdly and related to the Neighbourhood Renewal process, many smaller groups began to see the value of joining networks that could assist them and help them link with other like-minded organisations.
It became clear that one of the main needs of groups was the need for funding to carry on existing work or start new projects. Up till 2004 Ealing’s approach had been to make small grants funding available for small organisations. However, the local authority began to realise that this was not always the most effective form of support for groups and a decision was made to employ two fundraising workers, one in Acton and the other in Southall. The Southall worker, Suki Kaur, was employed in November 2004. Suki was a fantastic asset for the organisation and assisted many organisations in Southall and surrounding areas to both apply
for funding and also develop internal governance infrastructures that would assist them with their fundraising efforts. SCA was now in a position where we could not only assist groups in applying for funding but could also provide training, developmental workshops and assist them with quality assurance accreditation.
Funding and resourcing
As the SACN, the organisation had only been in receipt of small funds to pay for meeting costs and printing. However, within a few years of establishing our Resource Centre, the organisation began to grow and expand our funding base. Initially we were heavily funded through the Neighbourhood Renewal programme managed by Ealing Council but by 2008 we had numerous other funders, including Capacity Builders, Commission for Racial Equality, Big Lottery Fund, City Parochial Foundation etc. This reflected the growing profile of SCA and the credibility with which we were regarded by large regional and national funders. SCA’s model of working and Resource Centre setup was later to be replicated by Ealing CVS and Acton Community Forum. This provided local validation of the effectiveness of our work.
One of the pleasant consequences of being involved in many local fora and partnerships was that the organisation became the first port of call for the local authority when introducing visitors to Southall.
For example, in 2008 we hosted a visit from statutory organisations and politicians from the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland, who wanted to learn more about community integration in Southall. The visit was so successful that SCA and our partner organisation, Acton Community Forum were invited to participate in a community cohesion conference in Ireland. This experience was repeated in 2010 when, as part of the City-2-City programme, SCA was invited to an international conference in Southern Italy that looked at the impacts of international migration.
The confirmation of SCA’s as Southall’s key infrastructure organisation also saw the range of our work expand. We began to develop projects supporting local supplementary schools, develop health initiatives, offer IT training support, anti-female genital mutilation project, interfaith work and arts and cultural projects. However, one of the most satisfying and rewarding features of our work during this period was how we were able to support the development and establishment of new organisations that were helping isolated new communities. Two of these groups were the Bahar Centre and Access for Support & Development Centre. These groups assisted Iranian/Afghan and Somali communities who benefited very directly from the hot desks and meeting space we provided.
Spikes Bridge Park
One of SCA’s main achievements was in enabling the regeneration of sports and leisure facilities at Spikes Bridge Park. In or around 2007 Ealing Council had demolished a changing room and pavilion in the park, due to health and safety concerns. By 2008 the authority, in response to public demand, had decided to seek expressions of interest from organisations interested in developing new sport and leisure facilities at the park. SCA therefore submitted a proposal aimed at regenerating the park with the specific intention of rebuilding a new pavilion. It transpired that another organisation, London Tigers, had also applied and after lengthy discussion it was agreed that SCA and London Tigers would work together, develop a joint vision and action plan for the site.
Within a few years and with the excellent input of Ealing Council, we were able to acquire resources from Sport England, Football Foundation ECB and London Marathon Trust to build a new pavilion with changing facilities and a full-size artificial Astroturf pitch. The superb new park facilities were officially opened on 7 April 2014. The development of these facilities at Spikes Bridge has rightly been touted nationally as a model of partnership working and remains a well used facility to date.
Move to Southall Town Hall
By 2010 our seven year lease at 10 High Street was coming to an end and our attempts to extend it were unfruitful. Fortunately, we were able to negotiate a move, literally across the road, to the Southall Town Hall. We moved into the Town Hall in September 2010 and began the process of adapting to a change of location with lesser space and control over our new surroundings. One of the most immediate impacts of the move was that we were unable to offer access to meeting space in the evenings and weekends when many groups needed such a facility. Unfortunately this led to a number of groups folding as they were unable to access affordable alternative space.
Health improvement and self-care
By 2010/11 SCA had begun to consider ways of tackling ill-health in Southall, as local medical data showed that the town had the highest levels of type two diabetes, heart disease, TB and other long-term health conditions. SCA‘s response was to begin delivering activities that responded to the underlying factors causing ill-health. Some of our projects included:
- Pfizer Foundation funded project to deliver healthy cooking courses at Dormers Wells Community Centre
- Borough wide health improvement projects involving physical activity sessions, elderly recreational activity and awareness workshops
- Big Lottery under ‘Healthier Futures’ project in Southall
- Healthy walks project from 2011, that involved delivery of multiple weekly walks at different Ealing locations
- Diabetes week health checks with the local DICE team
- Self care work involving numerous partners to assist residents with health problems or long-term conditions in better managing their health and maintain their independence
Early in 2011 the LSP agreed to the delivery of work that was to become known as the Southall Project. This was a multi partner initiative to deal with community safety, health and economic prosperity issues in Southall. SCA was given responsibility for chairing a local project board that oversaw delivery of different strands of this work. One essential element of the project was the delivery of the ‘Big Conversation’ consultation and development of the Southall Charter, an action plan capturing all areas of work that residents had identified as their priorities. Following one of Ealing’s largest consultations, over 1200 residents responded, the Charter was launched in December 2012 and signed by Ealing Council, police, SCA, local businesses and faith groups and contained both a shared vision and plan of action.
SCA had received its first funding to deliver work relevant to one area of Ealing and in 2014 we led a consortium that sought to expand this area-based approach into different parts of the borough. This project to improve neighbourhood and community development also involved Ealing CVS, GNP Community Federation, Lido Centre and Acton Community Forum. Between 2014 and 2019 our consortium delivered a huge amount of work benefiting many thousands of Ealing residents. The consortium provided opportunitiess for residents to input into local consultations, arranged activities that enhanced social and cultural understanding, developed projects that improved local services and quality of life and contributed to the development and growth of local voluntary sector groups.
Let’s Go Southall
One of the greatest examples in recent years of collaboration between different sectors in Southall has been provided by the ‘Let’s Go Southall’ project. Conceived in 2017, this was a health project that sought multi-year funding from Sport England to tackle the low levels of physical activity in Southall. SCA lead on community engagement and participation in the development of the proposal and we were delighted when, in December 2017, the funder confirmed that Southall‘s application was one of 12 that had been successful across the UK. This was a tremendous affirmation for the power of the local voluntary sector to assist in attracting external resources and offered a once in a generation opportunity to tackle the underlying causes of physical inactivity and poor health.