It is an honour and privilege to be able to represent the residents of Crawley as their mayor. I have done this conscientiously, without prejudice of colour, creed, race, religion, disability or gender.
From the outset, it was my mission to promote diversity, unity and cohesiveness in the form of there being One Crawley-One Community. I had also decided to bring the community into the Town Hall, to share the glorious heritage of our fantastic council chamber and the Mayor’s Parlour. I had vowed to celebrate all of the varied religious festivals in the Town Hall.
The first of these was the Holy Islamic Festival of ‘Eid-ul-Fitr’, following a month-long period of Ramadan, a period of fasting and self-reflection. We were able to invite the community and the leaders of the various Muslim groups under one roof in the Council Chamber, along with the religious and community leaders of other faiths, Christians, Sikhs, Hindus, along with local councillors and dignitaries. The opportunity availed real and open dialogue between the diverse communities and our officers, whilst enjoying a good meal and networking.
This was repeated during November, whilst celebrating Diwali with the Hindu, Sikh, Jain and Buddhist community, opening up the doors to further include the voluntary sector of Scouts, Girl Guides and uniformed organisations, including our police force. The networking session resulted in increased interest from the BAME community in joining the Scouting AND Girlguiding movements. “Tiny steps towards integration and cohesiveness.”
We repeated the exercise by celebrating Christmas with a Carol Concert at St Mary’s Church in Southgate. We now have plan for celebrating ‘VAISAKHI’, a Punjabi/Sikh festival, in conjunction with Easter.
My chosen charity for the year is ‘Crawley Community Youth Services’, a voluntary organisation set up to cater for the wellbeing of the youth of Crawley. As a practicing youth tutor this was an obvious choice. We have managed to raise thousands of pounds over the year, through a ‘selfie with the Mayor’, the Annual Charity Ball at the Hawth and several other mayoral events. I shall be ‘skydiving’, in April to raise additional funds.
As the first Hindu Mayor of Crawley and a dedicated youth and community worker, I shall endeavour to build bridges within the various diverse communities and strengthen the bridges which already exist. There is One Crawley and One Community and I am very grateful for the opportunity to serve the town in its Platinum Year.
Cllr Raj Sharma, Labour Southgate