Manchester MEND working group had its inaugural meeting in the summer of 2014. We have grown from strength to strength, retaining many volunteers who helped establish Manchester MEND, as well as regularly attracting talented and dedicated new members in our team. We are keen to encourage political engagement. We have organised numerous national election hustings for the Manchester communities to question the candidates, and a debate about the EU referendum between MEPs Dan Hannan and Sajjad Karim entitled ‘Should we Stay or should we Go?’. There are countless occasions where politicians such as Naz Shah, Julie Ward, Sayeeda Warsi, Kate Green and others have supported and spoken at our events. We engage with the local police and council and invite them to our events too.
We often work with local community organisations in order to raise awareness in tackling Islamophobia. When it was Ramadan, along with Share Ramadan and the Myriad Foundation, we invited the wider community to attend a big Share Iftar event where there was a brilliant turnout and excellent feedback from the guests. We also engage with young people in tackling Islamophobia by working with local school students and teachers. Journalists attend our roundtable event where we have the opportunity to inform them about our concerns; similarly we also invite local entrepreneurs to an annual dinner to gain their support. We hold a separate annual dinner to thank all those who form various sectors have worked with us throughout the year.
During Islamophobia Awareness month, we have held exhibitions at schools and universities, conversed with the public in the city centre, organised community talks and events where victims of Islamphobia have spoken, alongside spokespeople from the CPS, police, council and Victim Support. Throughout the year, we regularly visit Greater Manchester mosques to motivate the community to empower itself by learning about the ways in which to tackle Islamophobic news stories, become more politically literate, and challenge rising Islamophobia.
We continue to expand as a team and we are very keen for the Greater Manchester Muslim community to get involved with Manchester MEND working group.