by Elyas Hussain
A retired Glasgow police officer has recently raised £40,000 for a charity caring for abandoned girls in India.
For some years, popular community and race relations officer Tom Harrigan, MBE, has been working closely with managing trustee Bibi Prakash Kaur (Bibi Ji), the founder of Unique Home for Girls in the Punjab.
After raising the £40,000 in a series of events last year, he took the money to India where the charity had decided to use it to build a new, purpose-designed home for the girls and the staff.
On his return Tom said: ‘I have supported the home for years and have now set up a registered charity in the UK. This is called Friends of Unique Home for Girls and the aim is not only to raise money but also to raise the charity’s profile here.
He added: “From my first visit, I have been impressed and humbled by the hope offered to the most vulnerable people in society – new-born babies and young girls who had been abandoned. All the staff there really care and are committed. They do an amazing job bring up their charges. It was a great privilege for me to raise £40,000 and I’m very happy it will be used for a new building for the children and staff.”
Tom also assists with the charity, Glasgow the Caring City,
In India little girls are abandoned for cultural reasons or because many poverty-stricken parents see them as a burden. Unique Home for Girls provides shelter and support and raises the girls to be healthy, self -respecting citizens. As well as a roof over their head and the basic necessities, the charity gives the girls an education at recognised schools, colleges and higher education establishments.
Currently, there are 56 girls living at the home. An additional 65 infants have been left in the baby cradle at the door of the premises. The centre was set up in 1933 by the Bhai Ghanayya Ji charitable Trust. While some of the girls get married and leave, there are a few like ‘Susie’ who have chosen to stay on and give their services voluntarily to the Home in appreciation of their up bringing.
To make a donation or for more information about the Unique Homes for Girls visit their website –www.uniquehomesforgirls.co.uk
Who’s not in need of some Grace and Flavour now and again? Well, a new cafe in the Trinity Church in Daisy Street, Govanhill is serving up ample portions of both. The flavour is in the soup, sandwiches and cakes, the grace is in the service – the new cafe -named Grace and Flavour – is run by church Minister, Rev Lily McKinnon plus a fleet of 19 lady volunteers who have successfully taken the Food Hygiene Certificate.
Grace and Flavour is open every Tuesday and Wednesday from 10am till 1.30pm. Previously, the space was a computer room. When funding dried up the service had to be discontinued and the 20 computers were given to local causes. But, undeterred, Lily has redeployed the space thanks to a £5000 grant from the Church of Scotland Pilot Scheme for Parish Development Fund. She believes the new cafe will help weave communities together in an area plagued by social problems.
Said Lily: ‘We opened on 21 September. Trinity Church of Scotland is in the heart of Glasgow’s largest multi-cultural priority area where long term unemployment, crime, drugs and alcohol abuse are the normal way of life for many.’
For Lily though, the enterprise is much more than simply providing a cafe: ‘I want to get these volunteers beyond just preparing and serving’, explained Minister Lily. She added: ‘Part of the whole idea is to get them integrating in the local community.
‘For example, we are going to run a creche on a Monday so that the Roma women can bring their children and they can integrate with the English speaking people of this community. At the moment they are isolated and we want to break what I see as a communication barrier.’
On Friday 5 November the Cafe will be opened officially by the Rev Neil Galbraith, Moderator of Glasgow Presbytery and founder of Glasgow, The Caring City Charity.
All baking is homemade and prepared with local produce and complements the rich array of aromatic, freshly ground, coffees and varieties of teas. All art work that adorns the walls is provided by students from Hollybrook special needs Secondary School. Two students from the school, Abbas Shaukat and Amy Balantine, are currently doing work experience at the cafe.