A recent visit to Crawley Town Hall marked a significant step towards strengthening ties within the Chagossian community in Crawley.
Representatives from several community groups and charities, with a shared goal of wanting to learn about and access support from The Chagossian Fund at Sussex Community Foundation, came together this week.
Frankie Bontemps from Chagossian Voices coordinated the gathering to provide information on the funding application process and address queries related to the Fund’s objectives.
Acklowedging the past
During the meeting, the group acknowledged the past struggles endured by Chagossians arriving in the UK. Two of the attendees described their first days in the UK over 20 years ago from Mauritius as British citizens, having left their families and loved ones behind for a better future here. The women described living within the confines of Gatwick Airport, without food or access to proper facilities and nowhere to turn for help and support. Since then, they have built lives here for their families, finding work, gaining qualifications, and joining local organisations, demonstrating a strong commitment to community issues and social justice.
Looking to the future
Insights were also shared about some of the pressing challenges faced today by Chagossian people living in the Sussex, along with those preparing to embrace citizenship through the new Nationalities and Borders Bill, which opened in 2022.
Attendees demonstrated a strong spirit of unity, envisioning collaborative projects to boost community cohesion. They shared project ideas that would create inclusive spaces for communal activities, provide essential services for families and young people, ensure access to healthcare and interpretation services, and celebrate the rich heritage and language of the Chagossian people.
Hannah Clay, Head of Grant Programmes, said:
“As this gathering culminated, it left a sense of ambition and determination from all those present. I was particularly heartened by the commitment to cultivating partnerships and how those present demonstrated their strong sense of hope and persistence, promising a brighter future for Chagossians in the UK.”
The Chagossian Fund, established in partnership with the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office as part of the support package for the Chagossian community in 2006, offers small grants to not-for-profit organisations working to improve the lives of Chagossian people living in Crawley and other parts of Sussex. To find out more and apply visit here.
For more information on the UK Government Support for Chagossian people from the FCDO visit here.
Chagossian Voices is a grassroots Chagossian community platform that promotes the varied voices of the Chagossian community through conferences, webinars and direct communication with official bodies and the general public. You can contact the organisation via email or visit their Facebook page.