A group of Bengali women from Brighton received help from a charity to visit a community garden in London in the hope of setting up a similar project back home on the south coast.
Community Development charity TDC (Trust for Developing Communities) helped the Moulsecoomb Bangladeshi Women’s Group secure funding from East Brighton Trust to take an educational trip to the Coriander Club at Spitalfields City Farm.
The Moulsecoomb Bangladeshi Women’s Group is based at St George’s Hall in East Brighton and aims to promote the wellbeing of female Bangladeshi residents living in the city. A key function of the group is to organise social activities and trips for the members which is does with assistance from TDC. The group were told by TDC about The Coriander Club – a gardening and cookery club for older generation Bengali women living in the Spitalfield area.
Founder Lutfun Hussain is originally from Bangladesh and set up the Club in 2000 to help counteract her homesickness. The Coriander Club improves the mental health and wellbeing of local Bengali women, many of whom speak very little English, suffer with long term health conditions and social isolation.
The club provides a regular opportunity to volunteer and socialise with others, where women can learn to grow vegetables, cook and share healthy meals together. Every Tuesday a women-only gardening session is held which helps offset isolation, loneliness and homesickness amongst the volunteers.
The members of the Moulsecoomb Bangladeshi Women’s Group were inspired by this story and wanted to find out more about the project themselves. Many of the Brighton women already grow their own food so the aim of the trip was to learn more about cultivating specific native Bangladeshi vegetables and explore the idea of starting a food growing project on a shared allotment in Moulsecoomb. Members of the group learnt about how the project operates and had the chance to pose their questions to Coriander Club founder Lutfun Hussain.
Mishruna Kibria, co-ordinator of the Moulsecoomb group said, “I just loved the whole atmosphere of the garden. It’s fantastic – it’s a charity not a business – a charity vegetable garden in the middle of the city! For the women in our group to see all the traditional vegetables from Bangladesh is amazing. For someone like my mum who lives in the UK it makes her so happy.
“In Brighton, there isn’t anywhere for Bengali women to come together outdoors and do something active together. If we could pull off something like this in Moulsecoomb it would be something so incredible and important – people would come to visit us!”
Ratna Jan Bibi, TDC Community Development Worker for Black & Minority Ethnic Wellbeing said “The trip was truly wonderful! It was pure magic seeing the ladies so happy, smiley, confident, ambitious, capable and full of sparks!”
The garden visit was followed by visit to East London Mosque in Tower Hamlets – one of the largest Mosques in Europe. At the Mosque, members of the Moulsecoomb group learnt about the history of the building, the services provided (such as counselling, legal advice and religious education) and were able to pray at the Maryam Centre, a dedicated safe space for women.
Find out more: www.trustdevcom.org.uk