Berkshire

Slough racism charity Aik Saath 'could have to fold'

Peer trainer Hassnain Khan supervises primary school pupils
Image caption The charity trains young volunteers in conflict resolution

A charity that promotes racial harmony between ethnic communities in Slough, Berkshire, will fold this year without additional funding, its manager said.

Aik Saath was set up in 1998 following gang violence between Hindu, Muslim and Sikh communities in the mid-1990s.

But fewer work contracts and failed grant applications means the award-winning charity will not last after six months, said Rob Deeks.

He added: "Without significant funding we will go under."

Mr Deeks said the charity had this year trained more than 100 young people in conflict resolution and anti-racism skills to work in schools and youth centres.

Local authorities including Slough council previously contracted Aik Saath to some of its schools but the charity said work had dried up.

Mr Deeks said that while ethnic tensions in Slough had eased, the charity was still important.

"A lot of what we do is preventative, making sure children feel comfortable with each other before a problem arises," he said.

'Clarion call'

Its funding application was rejected by the Government Transition Fund, set up by the cabinet's Office For Civil Society to help charities amid income cuts.

In a letter it stated that "unfortunately we received more good applications than the programme could fund".

The charity is currently employed directly by two schools in the borough of Windsor and Maidenhead and three in Slough, but that income will not be enough to sustain its work, said Mr Deeks.

"Every day we are putting in grant applications. We're hoping that some of the individuals we've helped will have us as their chosen charity.

"The reason we're making this clarion call is because we've done everything we can."

Last year Aik Saath won a Phillip Lawrence Award, named after the head teacher who was stabbed outside his school gates while trying to defend a pupil in a gang attack.

It has also received a Diana Certificate of Excellence from the Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Award, which recognises the outstanding contribution of children who improve their communities, organisations or schools.

Aik Saath means "together as one" in Hindi, Punjabi and Urdu.

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