The Community Cohesion Award supported by Blackburn with Darwen Council features groups from across the region who have helped to break down barriers between communities through their efforts.

The Fusion awards will take place on Saturday 13 May at King George's Hall, Blackburn.

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Blackburn Youth Zone (BYZ)

A youth centre which has helped create a positive future for young people in Blackburn with Darwen. In doing so, it has been one of the major driving forces in improving community cohesion in the town.

Blackburn Youth Zone (BYZ) opened in 2012 as a unique partnership between public, private and community sectors.

It is accessible seven days a week with 10% of visits from disabled young people. Three thousand young people from all backgrounds come to the BYZ every week to participate in activities with forty percent of their members from BME communities.

The centre has among other things developed a girls-only group which allows girls and their mothers to take part in activities at BYZ in a safe space. BYZ have helped improve LGBTQ support for young people and raised awareness for all young people to gain a better understanding of each other and to tackle hate crime and homophobia.

A diversity club with dedicated sessions for disabled young people was introduced as a direct response to the needs of parents and young people.

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Bolton Hindu Forum

The Bolton Hindu Forum (BHF) has been one of the most active North West community groups and their series of events have helped to break down barriers and improve understanding between communities.

The group pride themselves on being completely community based and open to everyone. 

The BHF is a platform for the Hindu community to work together in unity and cohesion. The BHF represent the Bolton Hindu community at all official events including interfaith activities, representing the community to the Council, attending the Mayor's Inauguration, Armed Forces Day, Remembrance Sunday and more.

For the first time ever, BHF represented the Bolton Hindu community on a national level when they were part of the documentary 'You Make Me Feel Like Dancing.' They were able to present the traditional 'raas garba' dance on the programme which aired on BBC 2 last year.

Their Raksha Bandhan event with the armed forces was part of a national event and their annual Dusshera event attracts over a thousand people from all backgrounds.

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Faith Network 4 Manchester (FN4M)

During a year when relations between communities have been tested post-Brexit, Faith Network for Manchester (FN4M) has aimed to allay fears through a series of campaigns and projects.

The aim of the organisation is to bring together people of different faiths and represent the voice of faith in the life of the city, especially to public bodies.

Since 2004 FN4M has developed into an able and committed body that delivers effective tools for engagement through conferences, dialogue, meetings, projects, newsletters, website and social media.

In the past year the group hosted a celebration of International Women’s Day where women of different faiths from Cheshire, Manchester and Wigan attended a special gathering in a bid to promote peace.

In 2016 FN4M, alongside the Muslim-Jewish Forum of Greater Manchester held an interfaith meal to mark the end of a Ramadan fast in Manchester and the group also took part in the #WeStandTogether campaign to promote community cohesion.

Most recently FN4M supported an event which saw the North West chapter of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Youth Association join hands in Salford Quays.

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New Beginnings Project

The New Beginnings Project is a ground breaking initiative that works with the refugee community. 

The aim of the Blackburn based project is to welcome refugees and asylum seekers who are fleeing war, violence and persecution.

The project’s objective is to help them settle well into British life, to become an integral part of the local community and stay safe.

The project manages to involve 14 different nationalities and four distinct religions using a champions and peer mentoring model.

The YMCA runs the project with 25 members of Christian, Muslim, Hindu and Buddhist faiths who are part of the ‘Champions Group.’

The champions have been empowered to play a leadership role in their own small communities through skill building and education.   

A women’s group consisting of 20 women of all ages from different countries also meet on a monthly basis.

The wide range of workshops allow everyone to get involved in the discussions surrounding the refugee community and their role in making their communities safe and largely making Blackburn a better place to live.

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Preston Muslim Society

This inspirational group of mosques have helped to dispel myths about their community.

The Preston Muslim Society which is made up of a group of mosques in the city have now raised over £100,000 for their local hospital.

In 2015 the group raised £40,000, in 2016 the group surpassed that figure and donated £66,000 towards the Rosemere Cancer Foundation.

The group aim to raise funds every two years to ensure they are able to reach a substantial figure to assist their local hospital in buying specialist equipment.

Every mosque has two members whose duty it is to encourage their local congregation to donate towards the cause.

The fundraising drive is backed by the imams who create awareness of the services that will benefit from the donations. In all cases local Madrassa children and nurseries were also encouraged to assist with the drive.

Their most recent £66,000 donation will go towards the £100,000 cost of buying a new high definition imaging system that can help doctors get a clearer picture to pinpoint certain types of cancers at Royal Preston Hospital.