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Community Heroes in Tooting & Balham Recognised by BATCA

Community Heroes in Tooting & Balham Recognised by BATCA


The Balham & Tooting Community Association (BATCA) held its annual Community Heroes event on Tuesday night, where a number of individuals and teams were recognised for the outstanding service they provide to the local community.

In an event held at The Grand Room and compered by the Reverend Dr Andrew Davey (St Augustine’s and Holy Trinity Church) and Arshad Daud (of Gold Sponsor, Flexicom Solutions), the large audience were treated to live music from Dynamic Sound Collective and Hannah White & Kieron Marshall of The Sound Lounge as well as speeches from BATCA Chair Ali Jaffri, the Mayor of Wandsworth, Tooting MP Dr Rosena Allin-Khan, Marie-France Dorcely (senior teacher at Ernest Bevin College) and one of the award-winners, Hassan Khan. Excellent food was provided by Mehman Restaurant.

The full list of individual and team award winners is below, along with the reasons why they were nominated by other local people. As you will see and as we well know, there are some truly remarkable people in our community, many of who are listed here and many more who are not, all of whom contribute so much in helping Balham and Tooting to be a fantastic area in which to live.

Individual Award Winners

Hassan Khan – Special Award

Hassan Khan is a truly amazing individual. Born in Pakistan in 1986, he unfortunately, very suddenly lost the sight in both eyes at the age of 3. For the next six years he struggled in his daily life until his father migrated to the UK in search of a better life for his son and they moved to Tooting in 1995 and have lived here ever since. It was here where he was introduced to specialist education at Linden Lodge School. Remarkably he used his new found path to raise himself out of the adversity and went on to higher education at the Royal National College for the Blind. Through determination, hard work, strength and growing ambition Hassan enhanced his skills and was eventually selected for the England blind cricket team in 2004 aged just 18. He has represented England at international level around the world and participated in numerous World Cups and tournaments. Through his sport he has also achieved academically and now works as an events coordinator for charities.

He is always forthcoming in advising and helping local organisations such as Balham and Tooting Islamic centre on how they can tackle the ever growing issues of disabilities in the community. This also goes on in the form of helping local individuals. His endless support for charities has grown into his motivational speaking which he is now taking on internationally. A truly selfless, inspirational individual, he has truly represented, and will continue to represent Wandsworth on the international stage.

Aslam Haidri

Aslam has been serving the local Muslim community for the past 30 years. He is always available to volunteers for funeral services at the Idara Jaaferiya mosque and community centre. This could take up to 3 hours when he will arrange cover for himself at the post office he runs to come and take part in the funeral activities. Over the years he has also trained a number of community members who are now able to provide these services independently. Alongside funeral services he is always there to give helpful and reassuring advice to family members in some cases help them with procedures to transport the deceased to foreign countries as well. Aslam is a very well respected community member and has never been nominated or highlighted. This award will be a good recognition for him for the selfless and needful services he offers to people and families he doesn't even know off, all for no return but to service humanity.


Taha Suleman

Taha is a student ambassador at Ernest Bevin College and always polite, considerate and quick to help. He is captain of the school cricket team and he also helps at a cricket camp for younger children and people with disabilities play cricket organised by Twenty20 cricket.

During the summer holidays Taha volunteered in Tooting Library (where he plays chess on a Saturday morning) and worked for more than 70 hours between 31 July to 22nd August. He assisted with the summer reading challenge by listening to children talking about books they have read and making sure children get the correct prizes on completion. He also helped with shelving books and carrying stock up and down the stairs whilst the lift was out of order. He helped with stock works, which includes discharging stock, processing reservations and withdrawing old and damaged stock. He helped customers with self-service machines, finding books and making book recommendations. He helped with events, story times and accompanied the children’s librarian on a visit to another children’s centre.

Taha was also involved in raising money for charity whilst he was at the library. He helped raise around £300 for the charity GLL whose aim is to get more people, more active, more often and live a healthy lifestyle and a charity working in Ghana (Action Aid UK) to build new houses, schools & water/toilet facilities and help to tackle extreme poverty.

Ismat Jafri

Mrs Jafri dedicates all her time to being a silent hero. From organising coffee mornings to yoga classes and small trips to the park for elderly women she has helped many for whom English is a second language feel confident and not alone. To encourage them she helps them do their paper work, pick-ups, drop-offs and sometimes their shopping. Alongside her work with the elderly, she is always willing to help at charity events and work with the Wandsworth community to help publicise their business as well as support charities.

Diane Holmes

Diane Holmes is a cheerful, caring person who makes a great contribution to the community. She has been a Guide leader for 40 years, having been both a Brownie and then a Guide herself. Eventually she took up the leadership of the Brownies too. Over these years she has given up every Friday evening (including when she was a full time teacher) to work tirelessly, organising many and varied activities and also ensuring that the children and young people are able to enter for and achieve badges showing they have attained competent knowledge and skills in many areas.                                                                                                            

Diane encourages all those whom she leads to get involved in community and charity work. Every year, before Christmas, the Brownies and Guides make mince pies which they sell in aid of Crisis, an organisation working for the homeless. In May they deliver envelopes for Christian Aid (a UK charity fighting global poverty and injustice).         

Apart from her work with the Guides and Brownies, Diane serves the community in many other ways. She is a School Governor at Trinity St Mary's, Balham. This year she has been allocated to work with the nursery class, which involves visiting them on a regular basis.

Within St Mary and St John's Church, Balham, Diane gives many hours doing administration work, organising collection boxes for the Children's Society and last, but not least, as an accomplished caterer she organises the food for all social events, including supplying her own amazing canapes and pies!

Suky Karim

Suky has built up a very successful local tax and accountancy business but is equally devoted to meeting need in the local community. She believes in reaching out beyond the business world to help others. 

Suky took over her father’s tax advice business after he sadly passed away in 2007. This took a lot of courage and determination in a not always woman-friendly environment, but she’s built up a flourishing business, not least due to her listening ear and tact. She’s a strong entrepreneur, always looking ahead and seeing opportunities where others might see problems.

But she does a lot more. Aware from her mother’s experience of the isolated lives of many elderly people, Suky runs a non-profit service, Little Local Tours, that organises low cost coach trips to the coast and beauty spots for elderly people and others who don’t get out much. She’s taken groups to Eastbourne, Blackpool and Windsor Castle among other places. Everyone enjoys themselves and there’s a clamour for more. Organising this is time consuming but it meets a vital need.

She’s also done a lot of work for BATCA using her financial expertise, and is a lynchpin of her local stretch of Garratt Lane. Suky is a proactive, energetic person who never lets obstacles stand in her way. Her commitment both to business and the community is exemplary, and she’s a role model for others.

Melissa Taylor

Melissa is an outstanding volunteer who has injected passion, enthusiasm and professionalism into her volunteering activities with Wandsworth Vision over the past 3 years. Melissa has achieved some fantastic outcomes with the vision impaired people she supports through her weekly sewing and knitting sessions. Some thought it would never be possible to learn how to use a needle and thread or a set of knitting needles but Melissa used her unique sense of fun, communication and high levels of patience to show people that they can. Melissa has certainly created some huge smiles as vision impaired people make their own clothes, Tea cosies and winter scarves which are truly impressive. Social isolation is an issue that can affect people with sight loss so it is wonderful to see how well Melissa manages the dynamics of her sewing group and the firm friendships that have formed between those who attend the group.

Melissa has also supported a number of our group outings to various places of interest across London. She has a fantastic way of describing environments to vision impaired people as well as making individuals feel at ease.  She is extremely popular and valued by staff, service users and other volunteers.
Melissa is kind, thoughtful, reliable and a joy to work with, going the extra mile wherever she can. We know that Melissa also volunteers for other charities so we are extremely grateful for her time, dedication and effort and we hope that Melissa is recognised as a Community Hero.


Team Award Winners

Memon Association Ladies Wing

In the early 80s, a group of hardworking, dedicated women founded the Memon Association Ladies Committee with the objectives of helping create a sense of belonging in British society, promoting youth participation and advancing the well being of the Community. Among their many activities in the years since, their tireless work to fundraise for those in need globally stands out. They have raised many thousands of pounds for charities helping refugees and victims of natural disasters, empowering women and tackling poverty, including:

- Syria blanket appeal
- Syria Refugee Crisis/medical Aid
- Malawi flood relief
- Nepal earthquake appeal
- Widows charity in India
- Girls orphanage in India

Nearer home, they recently donated £1,000 to a refugee charity in Streatham. They organise social events too, including this year a Family Fun Day, which was enjoyed by the whole community.

Be Enriched

Be Enriched has been running free community meals in South London for 4 years, with the longest and largest meal running from the United Reform Church in Tooting - The Graveney Canteen. They provide a hot, healthy meal for up to 50 people a week in Tooting and as well as this give out portions of fresh fruit and vegetables for guests to take home so that they are able to provide for themselves the rest of the week as well as enhancing their nutrition.

The food they use is surplus from local retailers so anther element of the initiative is saving food from land fill and reducing their carbon footprint. Alongside reducing food poverty, a large portion of the enterprise is to help fight social isolation. The Graveney Canteen provides a safe, warm and welcoming environment that has harnessed a family feeling and a real sense of community to all that attend. There are no stipulations to attending the meal, anyone is welcome to attend to take part in lunch with a difference!

I want to recognise the hard-work of the small team that run Be Enriched, including the CEO Kemi Akinola who works tirelessly to learning about and fighting food poverty. We also have a couple of regular volunteers that work so hard to help our initiatives and I want to recognise their contributions to the organisation. 

Residents Of Western Lodge

Western Lodge has been based in Tooting since 20102 in a large house on Trinity Road, providing accommodation for previous homeless men. The residents of Western Lodge have contributed greatly to the life of the community over the past 5 years.
In partnership with Holy Trinity Church, Western Lodge has initiated a homeless support project on Monday afternoons - residents provide hospitality as well as informal support from their own experience of homelessness alongside trained advisers.

Over two years the support project has welcomed over 70 people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness. Residents have trained alongside other volunteers and have been key advocates of the project in the homeless community. Residents have supported events in the community including the Funday, willing to provide some of the 'muscle' needed as well as a presence during the vent with their homemade card stall. At other times residents have volunteered to help with gardening, decorating and 'shifting' tasks in local churches. 

The Sound Lounge

There are so many reasons to nominate the Sound Lounge - Hannah and Kieran are true community heroes. They have created a genuine community hub in a very short space of time, bringing live music to Tooting but also offering warmth, welcome and kindness to all. They have invited the community police in, host regular parent and toddler sessions, have a happiness coffee hour, and have trained a group of young refugees in barista and sound engineering skills. They embody what it means to have a safe, inclusive, outward looking, joyful community. They deserve all the support, recognition and plaudits we can give.

Highly Commended

Abdul Khaliq Amejee

Barbara Ryan

Basia Klimas-Sawyer

Chris Tucker

Colin Cooper

Councillor Jim Maddan

Dave Mauger (of Tooting Daily PRSS!)

David Crilly

Elays Corner

Hannah White & Keiron Marshall

Jason Rosam

Jayshree Patel

Keanu Jackson

Louise Simms

Mahmoud Osman and the Eritrean Muslim Community Association (EMCA)

Malik Gul

Moira Hodgson

Nick Samuel

Sarah Rackham

Tanya Matthews

Tooting Common ParkRun – Event Directors

Trinity Fields Trust

Wandsworth Radio

Yvonne Clarke


BATCA would like to once again thank the Awards’ sponsors for their generous support. These were: Flexicom Solutions (Gold Sponsor), St Augustine’s Church, Councillor Leonie Cooper (London Assembly Member for Wandsworth and Merton), The West Indian Families and Friends Association, Barkers Chemist and Mr Ilesh Patel of Miss U’s Stationers.

To find out more about BATCA, visit their website and follow them on Twitter.

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