With the fast-growing community in the Bexley and neighbouring Kent areas, the strong need for a permanent, prominent location for practicing faith as well as running activities and facilities for the community is evidently pronounced.
Yog Foundation is actively seeking to acquire premises to establish a Mandir and Cultural Community Centre in the Kent/London borders.
We recognise that this needs to be more than just a place of worship - it will be a transformational, modern hub, fit for the 21st century where the younger generations in particular will want to return to regularly for the space, amenities and activities it provides.
We have engaged extensively with members of the Bexley and wider Kent community to understand their needs through door-to-door visits and discussions with several local community groups, as well as a comprehensive community survey. The main findings are as follows:
i. The absence of a single community centre and place of worship is a common concern. Local residents have to travel to Greenwich (where there are as many as five Hindu temples) and even as further to access community services and celebrate festivals. This places specific groups at a disadvantage such as the elderly, young and disabled who are unable to travel such distances alone or at later hours.
ii. The opportunity for community building and cohesion is undermined by the absence of a joined up Hindu/Indian community and single, shared community centre. Residents were unaware of the activities provided by different groups and thought there were insufficient support networks.
iii. Elderly residents, including those who are suffering from physical and psychological health conditions, feel isolated and disconnected from the community. They want more community specific support services and opportunities for participation in faith-based activities.
iv. Families are very keen for extracurricular activities and opportunities for children covering academic, cultural and moral development with an emphasis of being British with South Asian heritage.
We remain committed to maintain our free services, as they have delivered significant benefits to residents, particularly at a time of increasing pressure on council budgets and social services. These benefits include:
i. Support the building of strong, local social networks with peer support and increased community participation, leading to improvements in social cohesion, inclusion and cultural diversity.
ii. Ensure that vulnerable and hard to reach groups of the community, such as children at risk of underachieving due to having English as a second language; or the elderly due to mobility and language barriers do not become further excluded.
iii. Contribute to the improvement in wellbeing, health, employability and skills of local residents; thereby generating benefits from avoided costs of using public services such as welfare support, social care and medical treatment.
iv. Provide local volunteers the opportunity for developing a range of skills including leadership, teamwork, project management and public relations through practical experience.
Our commitment to preserving and expanding these free services will be dependent on us securing an affordable site in Bexley / Kent borders located within easy reach of the community and volunteers. This will provide a community hub for our services and a place of worship that the local Indian community are demanding