Community leaders in Northampton have hailed the ‘impact of integration’ as part of celebrations to mark 50 years of Bangladeshi independence.
The positive role Bangladeshi residents play in society was recognised at The University of Northampton’s Waterside campus on Wednesday (June 30).
The event honoured the sacrifices of the three million Bengali people who lost their lives as they fought for independence from Pakistan in a nine-month guerilla war in 1971.
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University vice-chancellor Nick Petford said: “Northampton is rich in diversity and culture, a melting pot that showcases the positive impact of integration as communities come together to fortify the fabric of a town.
“The role our Bangladeshi community plays cannot be underestimated, creating employment to boost the local economy and inspiring others with their generosity and commitment to charitable causes.”
The event, part-organised by Northampton restaurateur Tipu Rahman, was staged by Freedom50, a new project which aims to celebrate the heritage of British Bengali people and their role in modern British society.
As part of a £100,000 fundraising mission, the group is taking part in a charity bike ride from Oldham to London, connecting the six cities where British-Bangladeshis first settled.
Money raised will be used to raise awareness of the impact of global warming, support vulnerable children and build a school in a part of Bangladesh where severe flooding regularly displaces people, while putting a focus on the importance of physical and mental health.
Shale Ahmed, from Freedom50, said: “We need to highlight the impact of global warming both here in the UK and Bangladesh and what we can do in our communities to play a part in reducing our carbon footprint.
"The pandemic has also shone a light on mental health and wellbeing, and we are committed to supporting everyone in our communities to live a healthier life.
“Freedom 50 is going to provide an amazing start for young children from extremely poor backgrounds in our homeland, many of whom are from families displaced by flooding and riverbank erosion.
"Funds raised will provide a school building with play equipment for children, ensuring that the school can provide a safe place for them to thrive, realise their dreams and get a good academic start in life.”
Secretary of the Conservative Friends of Bangladesh, Naz Islam, added: “Freedom50 represents an opportunity to work in collaboration with cities and communities throughout the country on a shared vision and celebrate the sacrifices made in 1971.
“Now is the time to establish stronger relationships and strive for true community cohesion to make the next 50 years even better for generations to come.”
To find out more, email Shale at [email protected] or on freedom50.co.uk.