A Pendleside Hospice receptionist who identified the importance of integrating people from different faiths and ethnicities in Burnley and Pendle was invited to the Houses of Parliament to talk about her work.
Saniya Janjua (27) was asked to attend the celebration event in London by Near Neighbours, the charity which she approached to help support Pendleside’s community fun day in September.
She said: “I was midway through organising the fun day and just spotted Near Neighbours’ small grants fund online. I contacted Lynne Mitchell, the local co-ordinator for Lancashire, and she was a brilliant help from start to finish.
“She took me through the entry procedure and helped me to apply – Lynne was always there to point me in the right direction.
“I’ll always be grateful for her help.”
Lynne selected Saniya to attend the celebration event in London after seeing how she used the funding support to host the September event.
Baroness Margaret Eaton DBE, chairman of the Near Neighbours trustees, spoke to all the guests at the Houses of Parliament, sharing her extensive experience of working in environments that are diverse in both faith and ethnicity.
Saniya, a qualified teacher, said: “The day in London was brilliant. Baroness Eaton was particularly inspiring and encouraged us all to celebrate our achievements. We were also treated to afternoon tea and then invited to talk about how we used the funding.
“It was great to network with other people working hard to promote integration and to also share ideas between us about what we could look at doing next.”
The hospice’s community fun day in September saw almost 400 people attending and raised more than £1,000 thanks to many of Saniya’s contacts setting up stalls selling Asian food and clothes, henna painting and children’s activities including face painting and a caricaturist.
She said: “We purposely hosted the event on our day services wing so people could see the work that’s done first hand. We also took our visitors on a tour to reinforce these services are for everyone in the local area.
“For me, raising money on the day was a bonus – integrating our community is very important and there’s a lot of work still to be done. We provide a service for everyone but there’s a lot of negativity in the media about divided communities.
“People are stepping back through fear of the unknown but educating people only comes from talking. We need to do more to get people integrated and knowing their neighbours, hopefully this is a step in the right direction.”