Charity No: 1081286
By Ismail Mulla – AWAAZ investigative journalist
Local newspaper Awaaz has put to bed the accusations made by The press newspaper recently regarding the alleged ” Mystery Groups” set up by Savile Town Community Centre. Below is the full article which proves that these groups do indeed exist.
COMMUNITY groups have responded angrily to allegations that they are “mystery” organisations that exist in name only, as part of an alleged “money pit” at the Taleem Community Centre in Savile Town. But Awaaz can reveal that these allegations are unfounded.
A lot of the funding listed dates back to the early 2000s and since then the economy has taken a downward turn and funding for a lot of groups has dried up.
Awaaz spoke to a representative from the Shawcross Women’s Group, which is one of the existing organisations that was dubbed a “mystery group”. Hafeeza Razzak confirmed that the group was still active although they were struggling to gain funding.
“I’m very disgusted, very angry. Saying that we’re a mystery group we’re not a mystery group we exist,” Hafeeza told Awaaz unequivocally.
A local newspaper also alleges that the Shawcross Women’s Forum and Westtown Women’s Forum are one and the same. When asked by Awaaz whether this was the case Hafeeza replied, “No, they’re totally different groups.”
“I never said that they were of the same group.”Lubsir Latif – Savile Town Centre Manager
The basis of this claim according to the paper was the centre manager. But the centre manager, Lubsir Latif said: “I never said that they were of the same group.”
Further claims that the women had only used the Taleem Community Centre years ago are also unfounded. As Hafeeza confirmed that the group last used the Taleem Community Centre in July 2012 for a meeting to decide the future direction of the group.
Equally upset is Sofia Sadiq who is a volunteer involved with North Kirklees Volunteer Network and the Savile Town Health Action Group.
Speaking of the North Kirklees Volunteers Group she said: “The group is active, we do get together but because we haven’t got any funding we can’t put any activities on, which involves money.”
Sofia also confirmed that Savile Town Health Action Group came together on the 25 March 2012, to finish a project they had started the year before.
The existence of the Taleem Youth Forum has also come into question with it being alleged that the group had been awarded £9,892 in 2007 whilst it had disbanded in 2005. But we can confirm this isn’t true. The Taleem Youth Forum still exists today.
The chairman of TYF Asif Patel said: “The group isn’t dormant but it hasn’t been as proactive as it has been in the early years.”
He confirmed to Awaaz that the TYF had actually received funding from Kirklees council in 2011 to deliver a playscheme, which they did in April of that year, putting to rest any notion that the group was a phantom group that existed in name only.
The insinuation of financial misappropriation is based on the fact that a lot of organisations used the Savile Town Community Centre as an address.
But in a statement, the Savile Town Community Association said: “These groups are independent of Savile Town Community Centre and Association. They have their own management structure and mandate for operations, we do not have the authority, nor do we want to, inquire about the funding they have raised, that is between the groups and grant-making bodies.”
The newspaper’s attacks on the STCA went as far as suggesting a problem with the organisations’ accounts, pointing to the fact that four years’ worth of accounts had been filed late.
The current Chairman of the Association Mr Khalid Aziz said: “That’s not a big mystery, in regards to voluntary community organisations. People come and people go, they are volunteers. In our own case, the management committee went through a change in terms of the personnel. This is normal under the constitution we have adopted, on the recommendation of the Charity Commission, the regulatory government body for these types of groups. We have an AGM every year and people either resign their post or new people are elected. We are no different in this aspect than any other charity organisation. You are welcome to visit the Charity Commission website to look up documents that refer to this aspect, in fact, anyone can visit the website and check the procedures for community organisations. To say there is something wrong or underhand in this; is frankly ridiculous”
A statement provided by the charted accountants for the organisation said: “Accounts for the Savile Town Community Association (STCA) are prepared from information provided and are public record.
“In the last five years STCA have not received any Lottery funding and it is wrong to say otherwise. Income for the Association is earned from room hire at the centre.”
As to why groups use the centre, the answer is simple. As Hafeeza from the Shawcross Women’s group says, “the Taleem centre is near to our houses, has more facilities and women from our group feel comfortable there”
The groups, clinging on in the face of adverse economic times, are angered by accusations of existing simply to leach the system.
Hafeeza says, “We’ve done nothing wrong, we publicised our events, we put up posters, we distributed leaflets. There’s no wrongdoing.
“Our group exists it’s not a mystery group and people are still welcome, any volunteer can come and say that we want to join the group and do activities with us, anyone is welcome.”
They Do Exist
Savile Town Health Action Group – Still exist as an organisation. Finished off a project they started in 2011 on 25 March 2012 at the Taleem centre.
Westtown Women’s Carers Group- Still exist. The last activity was in 2011.
Shawcross Women’s Forum- Exist as an organisation. The last meeting was in July 2012.
Eastborough Youth Forum- Exist. The last activity was run in January 2011 to help young people develop mentoring skills in business and management, finance and networking.
Dewsbury Drugs Forum- Does exist, and carried out a project that ran through until 2010, doing anti-drugs work – providing information and leaflets on dangers of drugs etc.
Westtown Women’s Forum- Still exist, providing healthy eating and crafts programmes for women. The last activity they ran was in 2009.
North Kirklees Volunteer Network – Still exist as a group. They did one project in 2008 bringing ethnic minority groups together to develop volunteering skills. Last met in February 2012 to decide the future direction.
Youth Artz – Exist. Did one project which was in 2008, bringing together artistic talent to do arts-based activities.
Looking at the lottery award dates and the last time these groups had carried out activities there is a clear correlation between the two – as activities have been carried out after the grants.