Nari Kallyan Shango – 25 years and still going strong

It was my privilege to address the 25th AGM of NKS today and there was certainly a lot to celebrate. 

The group was created 25 years ago to provide support and empower women and families from south-east Asian communities who had made their home in Edinburgh.   

Their first project was a crèche, then a health project and then an arts and crafts project for children over five years old.

Over the years the group has run training and development projects for its members including qualifications in childcare, community work and English lessons.   The key theme has been providing support particularly for women to enable them to contribute to society. There have been several projects focusing on improving women’s health: on depression, on the particular health problems that women from south-east Asian communities are more likely to experience and on health promotion generally.

When I last met with the group the topic was supporting parents to make sure their kids get the best out of their schooling.   Supporting better parenting has also been a theme running through the years.

Finally the group has run regular lunch clubs for older women, breaking down isolation and providing an opportunity for friendship and advice.

It was a real pleasure to hand out certificates to women who had completed the most recent project which was aimed at learning about Scotland’s culture.   In my presentation to the group I reflected on the group’s achievements, the work of the many volunteers over the years who have enabled the group to thrive, and the dedication of the staff of NKS.  

Three generations of women have now been supported and over the years the group’s members have played an active part in Edinburgh’s civic community.   It was great to see Bilquis Chowdhury, NKS’s first manager and Naina Minhas who has been the project manager for the last 20 years.

The group’s success brings with it new challenges.   A key issue for the coming year is to identify premises that meet the range of needs of the various projects that the group now have and are planning to run for the future.   New premises would be ideal, particularly for those for whom climbing stairs is now a problem, but that won’t happen overnight.