Locally

Empowering, Educating and helping the Dalit and other marginalised poor in London through free Communicative English and Community Help Desk in association with Southall Community Alliance , Southall, Ealing Borough, London. This is a project awarded by Big Lottery Fund

Our Local work in Ealing Borough

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After the closure of Southall Community Alliance (SCA) Resource Centre, home for many of our community activities since 2006, we, along with many other SCA members, found ourselves without a meeting room/training facility. Rev Michael Bolley at nearby Holy Trinity Church, Southall stepped in and offered us the use of the Church Hall. An initial grant from Ealing Council For Voluntary Services (ECVS) kick started our community activities there with some work around the National Census, not only in local partnership with the Church but also collaboratively with another local group, Help Link,

Holy Trinity Church hall is situated in the Dormers Wells ward, where many of our users live. Dormers Wells is an area of high deprivation with a Super Output Area of 1216. According to the Indices of Multiple Deprivation it is one of the most deprived areas of the Borough and sits within the 10% most deprived nationally. In 2007, in some measurement domains, the ward drops below this 10%, with over half of its residents unemployed, more than 70% of its children affected by income deprivation, amongst the 5% most educationally deprived nationally and health wise and 40% of its older people (60+) affected by income deprivation.

Area concerns highlighted at the Dormers Wells Ward Forum meetings include Houses of Multiple Occupation / lack of area hygiene / litter / vermin / infestations / street spitting / homelessness / alcoholism / drugs.

A grant from BIG Lottery’s Awards For All enabled us to draw in 2 regular volunteers, one to run a Community Help Desk from SCA’s limited space in their temporary new home in the Town Hall and another to support our trainings in the Church Hall – Communication English, Health awareness and DIY self help skills training. We were also able to start Family Fellowship Suppers, where we have seen many new families and individuals coming together socially to share food, fun and games.

Most of our users have poor English Language skills and little knowledge of local area and services available. Many have recently arrived in the UK and are without family support, living in poor, overcrowded housing with unhygienic and unhealthy living conditions. So it was really good to see them coming together – overcoming isolation and forming new friendships.

The Community Help Desk continues to offer practical support for all types of enquiries - form filling, letter writing, CV preparation, signposting and advice on local area and services. We also devised a simple ‘how to’ course – writing letters, filling forms and preparing CVs. We recommend our regular users to attend. This reduces their dependency on others for help and also frees our Help Desk for others who are kept waiting.

An earlier Health Pilot had highlighted that there was much work to be continued to improve access of available health information and health services, particularly for the ever increasing number of new migrants arriving in Southall from developing countries who are unfamiliar with the local area and having very poor English Language skills. So we were very happy to conduct our ‘Health Matters’ sessions, which seem ever important with the threatened closure of Ealing Hospital, the changes in Health services and shifting emphasis on individual responsibility to maintain their own good health and that of their families. Our growing users are very interested to know about health, hygiene, serious diseases and preventative measures, diet, exercise, and ways to maintain good family health.

Our work in the Church Hall has also attracted the interest from the Church and Community Fund (CCF) who have supported a Co-ordinator for our activities and also the Church Urban Fund (CUF) who have provided us with a second Community Help Point, this one being on Church premises. This provides us with a space where our users are able to discuss more confidential or delicate matters, which they may not wish others to hear. Whilst appreciating our new community facilities in the Church Hall, as one of 100+ member organisations of Southall Community Alliance (SCA), we continue to urge Ealing Council to make new premises available for us to have a replacement Community Resource Centre.

Free Communicative English,

Life Skills and Customer Service are organised to help the Dalit groups and other marginalised in the Borough of Ealing Aims for enhancing employment opportunities, providing local area knowledge and encouraging networking and voicing opinions. Generally it is to improve standards of living, equal opportunities, community cohesion and social inclusion.

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

The community Help Desk

This service gives people information about the local area and various service providers in terms of benefits, employments etc. It assists people of various walks of life with no one to help or to guide like the newly arrived migrants, with preparing CV's, drafting letters and filling up application forms etc. The Help Desk is also a Caste Discrimination Reporting Point.




Nationally
Creation of Awareness on Caste Discrimination and its impact on International Development and Human Rights of the Victims
Networking with Affected Communities in the UK
Awareness about Discrimination in Relief and Rehabilitation during time of Gujarat Earthquake – BBC
Awareness about Discrimination in Relief and Rehabilitation during the South Asian Tsunami
Formation of VODI – UK – sending people for training etc
Renaming of VODIUK to CasteWatchUK
Lobbying to include Caste Discrimination within the Single Equality Bill
Internship
Promotion of Casteaway Arts

Internationally


VODI India- tsunami, fisheries project, sponsor a child, Gujarat earthquake rehabilitation
Dalit Aid, Dalit Christian desk and Dalit development training
Dalit child education programmes
Campaigns and Advocacy

* DFID Funded Project - Promotion of Primary Education Among Dalit Children

* Training in Leadership for Social Change - Dalit


Training & Development of Dalit leadership

VODI Institute Of Development Studies is an outcome and long cherished dream of VODI to train and empower the present and future Dalit leaders through international training and exposure programmes. After years of experience VODI has formed this institute to serve this need for creating leadership among the affected Dalit communities.
First Dalit Development Exposure & Training.
castle humannetworkingThe Dalit activists who came in November 1999 were able to make the Churches and the local community aware of the plight of Dalits. They lived on the generosity of the local community of Grimsby especially Dr. & Mrs. Sarkar who provided accommodation to the Team for one year. The Team’s interaction and initiatives attracted even the local news on July 7, 2008 in the form of an article ‘charity plays host to Indian guests’.
The Team was able to organize seminar on Caste & Human Rights at Grimsby College on 7th June 2000. Rev. David Haslam of Dalit Solidarity Network- UK was the keynote speaker.  This seminar opened up the possibility of establishing VODI in London to be able to be located centrally.
it was realized the importance of the role that the Dalit Diaspora can play in the promotion and protection of human rights of Dalits. The initiatives in Grimsby also enabled VODI  to initiate and  promote the education of Dalit children back in India. (Read more - educational sponsorship programme)


Diploma in Dalit Development Studies


This international study and training programme is to provide international exposure, build confidence, leadership, capacities and skills of leaders and future leaders of marginalised, excluded and Dalit communities, who normally are denied of such opportunities. This 18 Months Course is jointly conducted by VODI Institute of Developmental Studies and London School of Arts, Merrick Road, Southall, Middlesex, UB2 4AU, United Kingdom.



Dalit Development and justice Course

justice courseTowards the middle of 2002,VODI made an arrangement with Southall School of Languages and Missionary Orientation to start an international Course on Dalit Development / Justice and Development Course. The Course officially started in 2003 and the next two years it took almost all the attention of VODI. For the first time in the history of Dalits, such an international Course was started. VODI was able to provide opportunity to 23 participants from India and Nepal. Some of them, after training have gone back to resume their work in their countries with a greater responsibility, some others joined with international Dalit movements and the remaining are continuing their higher studies in UK.



Dalit Christian Desk

DCD is an Unit of VODI established after the first ever international Conference on Dalit Christian Rights  held in London from 24-25, April 06. This Unit strives to mobilise international Churches and Church related organisations to tackle the problems faced by the Dalit Christians. 


Our conferences

 

International Conference on Dalit Human Rights 16-17, September 2000

internation conf First ever International Conference on Dalit Human rights was organized by VODI in association with of Dalit Solidarity Network UK the communities of Ravidass, Valmiki, Ambedkarites Buddhists and Christians with whom VODI was interacting from its inception.  It was a historic conference as it was for the first time Dalit Diaspora from various religious affiliations and many eminent Dalit leaders from India came together in an international conference.  The Dalit leaders Mr. G.S. Chambers and Mr. T. R. Bali of Sri Guru Ravidass Sabha, Mr. Satpal Muman and Mr. Gautam Chakravarthy of Ambedkarite Buddhists, Mr. Dharmpaul Nahar and Mr. Baldeve Gill of Valmik Community were very supportive of these initiates. Apart from the forging of unity and common strategy by the Dalit community, the conference also made a tremendous contribution through two specific papers – ‘Caste in Britain' – by Mr. Satpal Muman, second being, ‘International Aid agencies Addressing Dalit Issues'- by Mr. Leo Bashyam of Christian Aid. The Conference proceedings were published in a book form by www.ambedkar.org (click Publications)



Dalits and International Development Aid - National Conference on - May 2002, Birmingham


This conference highlighted the indifference of the international agencies of development for the rights and development of the Dalits. The presence of the then Secretary of State for International Development, Ms. Clare Short M.P. was significant for the conference. The conference also highlighted the practice of caste discrimination in the UK by Indian Diaspora. These contributed to the BBC Radio to interview and investigate in to caste discrimination in the UK which was broad cast later as programme with greater impact.
grimspIn May 2002, VODI organised a Conference on the above subject in Birmingham, inviting This was to draw the attention of the international community of aid agencies to the realities of poverty and its relation to Dalit situation. This Conference also highlighted the existence of caste in Britain, which was followed up by Radio-4 by interviewing different resource persons from the Conference.
In this Radio programme, VODI's director Mr. Eugene Culas was interviewed and he spoke about the existence of caste practices in British schools, educational institutions, work places, religious places etc.



Dalits and International Development Aid – National Conference, New Delhi 2003


india confThrough the previous campaign and conference of VODI, the issue of International aid agencies addressing Dalit issues became more accepted. To further the campaign and advocating the concept VODI organsied this national level conference ont eh same topic folloed by various state level seminars. This conference in which many Dalit activists, intellectuals participated came out with ‘Delhi Declaration’ (See Conference for details).




Dalits and International Development Aid – National Conference, Kathmandu, Nepal, July 27, 2003


nepal seminVODI continued with the campaign for due share of Dalit in the developmental scenario by organizing another conference in Nepal in association with Jana Uttaan Pratishthan (JUP) of Nepal and other members of the Dalit NGO Federation of Nepal. It The Delhi Declaration and the DSN papers on the subject was widely discussed and debated.
The participants  acknowledged the relevance and uniqueness of such a subject and that that this was the first time such a subject was discussed from the people's point of view (See Report for details)



International conference on Dalit Christian Rights


VODI organised the first ever international Conference on Dalit Christian Rights  held in London from 24-25, April 06. The Christian population in India is drawn largely from the lower echelons of society. Dalit Christians constitute more than 70% of the Christian community, which in the 2001 census numbered 25 million, around 2.3% of India’s total population.
Dalit Christians find themselves in an unenviable position today. They are a people that are twice discriminated. The state discriminates against them and refuses them any rights and privileges that their Hindu counterparts enjoy.

In addition to the step-motherly treatment of the State towards them the Dalit Christians suffer inequality, injustice and inhuman treatment within the church. They realize the painful truth that their change of religion has in no way changed their pathetic, subhuman social condition. In effect the Dalit Christians live as refugees in their own homeland..



Gujarat Earthquake - January 2001


Caste Discrimination in relief works was found to be rampant in Gujarat. VODI took up the campaign against corruption and caste discrimination during relief for the victims of the earthquake by documenting evidences and conducting seminars in UK to make the public aware (click on Newsletters for more information)
gurapSince the relief was not reaching the deserving victims of the earthquake especially the Dalits, various UK based Dalit organizations entrusted the responsibility of providing relief to the victims. Hence VODI got directly involved in the relief and rehbilitaion works in Gujarat since 2002 based at Madhpura, in Kutch District
The original work was undertaken in co-operation with an existing local charitable organisation which is legally in control of an infrastructure for the community.



Tsunami & VODI


dalit tsunamiThe 2004 tsunami once again established the existing discrimination against Dalits even during times of disasters. Along with highlighting this practice even by the aid agencies, VODI used the opportunity to form a Working Committee under the leadership of Mr. Jagdish Rai, one of the community members with the aim of developing it into an aid agency in the future to reach out to the discriminated groups during times of disasters and to fund other developmental projects. One of the first contributions to DALITAID from the community groups was used to produce a film on ‘Tsunami and Dalit Resurgence' Contact Vodi for the copy of the film.