Inside Muslim Welfare House: Islington’s ‘biggest community centre’
- Credit: Archant
The Muslim Welfare House is one of Islington’s most widely used community centres. The Gazette speaks to its CEO, Toufik Kacimi.
Toufik Kacimi used to be neighbours with Jeremy Corbyn in Finsbury Park. But a couple of years ago, he was driven out by high rent.
Now living in Chingford, he remains an important part of our community as CEO of Finsbury Park’s Muslim Welfare House.
Located next to the Seven Sisters Road bridge, Toufik claims it is Islington’s biggest community centre. It is used by thousands of people every week, differing from mosques in its specific focus on social mobility and education.
Toufik, 48, oversees the operation. He says: “Our role is to provide a good focal point for the community. This is especially important for ethnic minorities to be able to integrate as Islington is such a diverse place. We have Somalians, Albanians, Bengalis, Indians, Algerians – you name it.
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“We offer everything from education for adults and children to private functions and weddings. We do parenting for life courses. We do yoga, martial arts and football.
“All this offers so much for the people who come here. Many may have difficult backgrounds and would otherwise be lonely – which can have a devastating impact. So the massive range of services we offer gives people a platform to meet other people.”
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Toufik, who became CEO in 2010, points to eight families that fled war-torn Syria and were housed by Islington Council last year: “They are a perfect example of what we try to achieve.
“None of them knew each other: they were not connected in any way apart from arriving here as refugees. We offered them a platform to get to know each other. We offered them psychological help. Without our help, I think these families would have found that transition very difficult.
“Lots of places in Islington, like Finsbury Park Mosque, do great work. But this is the biggest community centre in the borough and offers services that others can’t.”
For more information about Muslim Welfare House, visit mwht.org.uk