Community cohesion campaigners and charity workers are among the finalists at this year’s Fusion Awards.

The ceremony in 2019 will be held at Blackburn’s King George’s Hall on Saturday, July 6.

The awards attract audiences from towns and cities across the North West, as well as people from all backgrounds, cultures and religions making it the biggest celebration of its kind in the North of England. It also honours some of our most popular and feel good stories from the year that inspired a lot of people in the region.

The 2019 ceremony is being sponsored by Trinity College London, BAE Systems, Blackburn with Darwen Council, AMT Lawyers,; Asian Image, Cleartwo and Supreme Dream. 

The official charity partner for 2019 is SKT Welfare.

The Community Cohesion award features Andrew Graystone who stood outside a mosque in solidarity with Muslims after the new Zealand Terror Attacks; Planet Mercy of Rochdale who host a range of warm meals and food parcels for the poor; The Hidden Gems Exhibition and project which showcased the experiences of women who wear the headscarf; Near Neighbours Lancashire are included for supporting projects that help break down misconceptions; The big foodbank drive by Blackburn mosques raised four tonnes of food in a mammoth effort. Also on the list is Preston based Masjide Salaam who have challenged prejudice.

The much coveted Community Group of the Year list includes Oldham based My Coldhurst who are helping to keep their neighbours clean; The Curry Club, a group of women aged between 45-70 years old who meet to cook wholesome food with fresh ingredients; the Soup Kitchen Rochdale; The Uniting Communities Organisation of Blackburn who help run Accrington Road and Little Harwood community centres; the National Forum for Health and Wellbeing who have been hosting a number of Health Melas across the region for many years and the Noor Food Bank are a Preston based organisation helping those less fortunate.

In our Man of the Year list we recognise the work of Neil Mistry of Community Spirit which feeds the homeless weekly; Zahid Chopdat who has raised thousands and also travelled to refugee camps to deliver aid and Amin Babor Chowdhury who has worked within the journalism, education and charity sectors to encourage community cohesion.

The Woman of the Year category features Hasina Khan who became Lancashire’s first Asian female Mayor this year and also helped to raise funds for local causes and Firoza Mohmed who has helped vulnerable women from across the region through the organisation Humraaz;  cancer fundraiser Shamilla Mirza who helped to raise funds for Cancer Research UK.

The BAE Systems Youth Leadership Award includes the longest running Asian youth group in Lancashire - the GHS Preston Youth Club; Community youth group SWITCH who have hosted a range of local initiatives engaging young people; The WEGs group at One Voice who have galvanised their own community to empower young members; The Bolton Mandhata Youth group host a range of activities and events regardless of age, background and personal beliefs. The Community Gateway Association based in Preston and their work in helping to promote youth opportunities makes up the list.

Recipients of our special awards will be awarded on the night. These include the Education Achievement Award; The Achievement in Sport Award; the Mumtaz Ellahi Community Sports Award; the Entrepreneur of the Year and the Community Achievement Award.

There will be a special honour to recognise the work of North West Unite Against Fascism and Stand up to Racism.

A statement from read, “Our Lancashire is a new online platform being developed to bring together local groups across the county, enabling them to connect with other similar groups, attract new members and find events and support to enhance members experience.  

"Spearheaded by Lancashire's Police and Crime Commissioner Clive Grunshaw, Our Lancashire is proud to support the 'Community Group of the Year' award and aims to become the one stop shop for local groups in Lancashire.”

A Statement from Blackburn with Darwen Council read, “We’re pleased to support the Fusion Awards once again, and look forward to celebrating the achievements of the Community Cohesion Award winner this evening. 

“There’s lots to celebrate in terms of social integration across our borough; we are blessed with many organisations who work hard to bring people from different backgrounds together, breaking down barriers and collaborating on projects that make Blackburn with Darwen a better place. 

“The Our Community, Our Future programme is building on this strong foundation to do more to bring our diverse communities together. 

"Working closely with the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government, we aim to create more opportunities for people to mix socially, at work and in school – and the work of community groups and community-spirited individuals is invaluable to us"