OMC Has Something for Everyone

THE north west Muslim community is benefiting from a pioneering new community centre, which aims to build a better future for all.

The multi-million pound flagship Oldham Muslim Centre has been running since February at its new base in Compass House on Neville Street.

The two-storey centre is the Oldham branch of the Islamic Forum Trust, which was inspired by the £10.5m London Muslim Centre in Whitechapel. It includes a community hall for meetings and functions, quiet rooms, an education and IT suite, classrooms and there are also plans for a multi-purpose gym and library.

Priority has been given especially to women and children with the centre providing an exclusive area to women for various activities and events.

Members at the centre have also been working tirelessly to see a vision which started in a two-up-two-down terraced house on Chadderton Way become a reality.

Said fundraising manager, Nanu Miah: “The centre was an initiative of Islamic Forum Europe, Young Muslim Organisation and Muslimaat UK when we were still based at Chadderton Way many years ago.

“Originally we had one terraced house to work from but as we got busier and we took on more projects and more volunteers, we needed much more space. We then bought the next door terrace but even then it was still too small as our work was expanding.

“With the demand of our work growing we realised there was a need for a Muslim Centre in Oldham.”

Land was soon acquired at Dunbar Street and fundraising was started to build the north-west’s largest Muslim centre but last year after much consideration an opportunity arose to buy Compass House and relocate the centre.

The land, which was originally bought for £41,000 was sold for £300,000 and with £400,000 of funds collected from fundraising and kind donations from the local community, Compass House was eventually bought in January this year and a community open day was held in February.

Said Nanu: “With help from the community we managed to raise enough funds to help us purchase the building,

“Though the centre is a £2.2 million project we still need to raise over £1million.

“The community has been very very generous so far and we couldn’t have asked for better support but there is still along way to go.”

As part of the new fundraising initiatives a charity car boot sale is being planned and young volunteers will also be helping to pack bags at the local supermarket.

Another initiative is to get 5000 people to donate £300 each to raise the remaining amount of money.

“There’s a lot more we can do to raise the rest of the funds, said Nanu.

“If we can get enough people to donate £300 each we could reach our target very soon.

“The centre is here for the whole community. The building was secured through the generosity of the local community, and this shows the determination for positive action needed in our community to tackle issues such as crime, increasing of anti-social behaviour, the need of educational achievement to strengthen interfaith dialogue and community cohesion.”

One local resident who was so impressed with the work of the Oldham Muslim Centre raised £35,000 on her own.

Said Nanu: “This lady is in her 60s and she managed to raise us such a huge amount of money on her own, this just goes to show her determination and faith in us.

“If this generous woman can raise that amount of money on her own surely we can get more people donating.”

As far as community work goes, volunteers at the Oldham Muslim Centre are tackling social issues including the rise in drug use by going out to the local community and talking to young people about the dangers of drugs and the importance of contacting the police if members of the public are aware of drug dealing in the local area.

They are also tackling problems around Islamic extremism by talking and educating young people about the real values of Islam, which teaches mutual respect for all human beings.

Former rapper Napolean also made a visit to the centre to talk to young people about the dangers of wanting to lead a ‘gangster’ lifestyle. The event attracted more than 500 youngsters.

Said Nanu: “A positive aspect of the centre is that it’s run by professional young people who are determined to see success and positive work going in the community. They are also much more aware of social problems and can also connect with the local youth in the community.

“Our secretary for example is only 24-years-old but with him he brings a fresh approach to the centre and we all respect that.”

There is also huge emphasis on inter faith work and dialogue. Non-Muslims are welcome to use the centre at any time to see the work that is going on and to learn more about Islam.

The centre will also be taking part in the harvest festival, which is being organised by the Oldham Inter Faith Forum during Oldham Diversity Week.

Added Nanu: “We wanted a centre that will become a focal point for the Muslim community.

“We want the whole of the Muslim community to use the centre for different activities whether it is for Islamic studies or learning IT or just to socialise in a halal environment.

“Our main focus is to educate people and provide them with opportunities and with the help of our local community, inshallah, we will be able to fulfil this.”

For more information or to donate ring 0161 633 7586.

Weekly events taking place at the centre are as follows;

Quit Smoking 1-3pm Meeting Room Public Oldham Community Health Service
Tuesday Halaqah 7.00pm Multipurpose Room Youth and young professionals YMO
Luncheon Club 1.00pm Conference suite Public OMC Elders Service
Junior Muslimaat Circle 11.00am Women’s Prayer Hall Young Girls 7-12yrs Muslimaat
Junior Muslim Circle 11.00am Multipurpose Hall Young Boys 7-12yrs IFE/YMO
Halaqah 12.00pm Women’s Meeting room Public, English speaking sisters Muslimaat
Youth Circle 5.00pm Main Prayer Hall Public Young People YMO
Oldham Muslim Centre Weekly Programmes

Ruhel Khan