Published on September 6th, 2013 |
by Shehnaz Bham
Image © S Press 2013
Salaam Peace: Be the change in the community you want to see
What started as a one-off event has grown into a multi award winning community organisation. Salaam Peace was founded in April 2009 by Sab Bham. Sab decided that he wanted to use sport as a tool to bring the community together. He came up with the idea of running an event called the Eid Cup. Eid Ul-Fitr is a festival celebrated by Muslims all over the world to mark the end of Ramadan (the Islamic month of fasting). The aim of the Eid Cup was to promote community cohesion and give Muslims and Non-Muslims the opportunity to play, learn and celebrate together. The Eid Cup brought together hundreds of adults and young people from across London to play in a football tournament, listen to a talk from an Imam (Islamic leader) and meet police and army officers. The outcome of the Eid Cup was twofold: it showed Islam in a positive light in the face of on-going media criticism and challenged some of the fears British Muslims have about integrating within the community.
Four years on, Sab and Salaam Peace are preparing for Eid Cup 2013 on Saturday 7th September. The Eid Cup is now an annual flagship event for Salaam Peace, as is the Easter Cup which takes place in April. The huge success of these events has led to Salaam Peace expanding their programme of events and activities. Salaam Peace now has community engagement programmes in both the London Borough of Waltham Forest and the London Borough of Hackney. The range of activities include youth and adult football leagues, multi-sport sessions, after-school clubs and P.E. lessons in schools, group gym sessions, outdoor fitness, cycling projects, a summer university programme, a homework club, a media team and much more.
Of course, Sab does not deliver this without any support. Salaam Peace has a highly-motivated team of staff and volunteers. The majority of the staff and volunteers are from Waltham Forest or Hackney and began their journey with Salaam Peace as a participant in an event or activity. This means that they can directly relate to the young people that Salaam Peace engage with, as they were once in that position themselves. For instance, Hatice first became involved with Salaam Peace by attending a weekly group gym session in Hackney. She then began attending other events and activities, bringing her friends along with her. Hatice is now a key member of the Salaam Peace young volunteers’ team. She supports the cycling projects, homework club and media team and has applied for funding from O2 Think Big and Live UnLtd to run her own projects for Salaam Peace. This pathway from participation to volunteering is pivotal to Salaam Peace. Not only does it allow the core values and ethos of Salaam Peace to be maintained, it provides positive and relatable role models for other young people to aspire to.
The great work that Sab and the rest of the Salaam Peace team do has been recognised by numerous awards including the Street Games Inspiring a Generation National Award, the Mayor’s Award from the London Borough of Hackney and, most impressively, the 2012 BBC Sports Unsung Hero Award for London. In addition to a feature on Sab and Salaam Peace appearing on the BBC London News and being able to attend the Sports Personality of the Year Awards alongside the likes of Jessica Ennis, a more recent outcome of this was Gabby Logan and the BBC coming to film a Salaam Peace event and interview Salaam Peace staff for the second episode of the Inspire: The Olympic Journey series. This highlighted the importance of the work Salaam Peace do to get young people into sport and the benefits this has for the community.
As much as Sab and Salaam Peace are flattered by and enjoy such recognition of their work, it does not distract them from their mission: be the change in the community you want to see. Salaam Peace was founded because of a desire to challenge negative perceptions of British Muslims and promote unity within the community. This is something they have shown using the Eid Cup and Easter Cup events, through their community engagement programmes and by the sheer diversity of the Salaam Peace staff, volunteers and young people. Salaam Peace continues to develop as an organisation and I have no doubt in my mind that they will continue to be the change in the community you want to see. The question is: will you?
Like Salaam Peace on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/salaampeaceSP
Follow @salaampeaceSP on Twitter https://twitter.com/salaampeaceSP
You can also find out more about Salaam Peace on their website www.salaampeace.org.