An introduction to the Kurdish Community Centre
The Kurdish Community Centre (KCC) is a refugee charity organisation formed in 1992 as a consequence of the growth and development of the Kurdistan Workers Association (KWA) from which it sprang. The KWA was first established in 1987 by a small group of Kurdish friends who perceived a need among the growing Kurdish refugee community arriving in London to get together, help each other and act as a reception centre for newcomers.
In 1989 over four thousand Kurds arrived in the United Kingdom within months of each other as a result of the intensified conflicts in their home lands. This meant that the need for KWA’s services immediately intensified. Volunteers had to start developing professional skills in welfare, advice, interpreting and running an organisation according to the legislative framework of the UK. The first fundraising bids were carried out and a Co-ordinator and Advice-worker were successfully recruited as a consequence of the London Borough Grants Unit’s support.
Following the AGM in 1990, the organisation was taken over by a new Management Committee. The centre’s membership rapidly grew and by 1992 the KWA’s client base was 2,500 and rose to around 3,500 clients a year later. The KWA acquired charitable status for its offshoot, the Kurdish Community Centre in 1992 and the two organisations sat down with lawyers and funders to discuss how formally to separate the work of the two organisations. The separation took effect in 1993 with charitable registration of the Kurdish Community Centre.
The KCC commenced on an independent operation with a separate Management Committee and its own workers in 1995. During this year the constitutions of both organisations were revised with the assistance of a specialist business consultant. For its part, the KWA remained a voluntary unincorporated organisation focusing on training and lobbying for the Kurdish community in the UK.
The old building had become a place which the community looked upon as a ‘safe haven’ in a hostile world until it was torched by arsonists for the third and most serious time, in the early hours of Friday 20 August 1998. The arson attack caused great distress for the Kurdish community - many families and individuals who had fled persecution, torture, and the burning of villages in their homeland. The feeling of security they had begun to build in the UK was devastated. As the damage to the premises had been so extensive it was impossible to give the necessary services. All medium-term planning of projects and services had to be undertaken within the framework of repairs to the building, replacement of equipment and attempting restore a sense of security to the Kurdish community.
Having rebuilt its premises The KCC is now a charity constituted as a company limited by guarantee, and is therefore governed by a memorandum and articles of association. The Centre working closely with its funding bodies aims to provide services designed to advance education, relieve poverty, promote health and well-being and support the recreational activities of the Kurdish people in the UK, empowering them to improve the quality of their lives.
The centre is organised so that the Management Committee meets regularly to manage its affairs. The primary worker, the Coordinator working closely with project managers has responsibilities regarding funding, financial management, quality issues, staff appraisals and training. The day-to-day responsibility of the Project Managers is to ensure that the services are delivered in a manner that meets the funding obligations and to supervise advice workers as well as assisting the Coordinator in all other affairs of the KCC. The remaining employed staff members are case workers dealing directly with our service users. The KCC also has many voluntary workers whom provide invaluable hard work and dedication in helping us deliver quality services.
The KCC’s Objectives
1 - To relieve poverty with the provision of advice in areas such as immigration, welfare rights, housing, health and education.
2 - To work towards the preservation and promotion of Kurdish language, art, literature and cultural heritage.
3 - To assist Kurdish children in their mainstream education by running a Supplementary School to develop their core subjects.
4 – To encourage adult education, increase access to employment and enable them to gain confidence by providing language courses and information technology training.
5 – To improve the social and cultural lives of the Kurdish community by organizing entertainment events.
6 – To detract the Kurdish youth from crime by providing social, cultural and educational activities for them.