Queen's Award for Sikhs

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The Sikh Times - Queen's Award for Sikhs Oct 14, 2010

A Sikh centre was amongst this year’s winner of the Queens’s Award for Voluntary Services 2010

The Sikh centre Nishkam Civic Association (NCA), more fondly known as The Nishkam Centre in Handsworth, Birmingham, was amongst 103 volunteer groups from around the UK, Channel Islands and the Isle of Man to have been awarded The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service.

Special guests at ceremony

A special dinner was organised to receive this award, which was presented by the Queen’s representative, Clive Stone, Deputy Lord Lieutenant to Bhai Sahib Bhai Dr Mohinder Singh Ji, chairman of the Niskham Centre.

The Lord Mayor and Lady Mayoress were special guests at the ceremony and presented the official certificate from the Queen for the Award.

In the acceptance speech Bhai Sahib Bhai Dr Mohinder Singh said, “ I am humbled and honoured to receive this award from Her Majesty The Queen, on behalf of the founders of the organisation, the congregation and the Sikh community, an honour that I could not have received without you all.

The Big Society

“Talking about a big society, my thinking is we have a mini society within a family; mum, dad ‘I love you’ gives us a micro society, leading to respect, trust, sacrifice, this gives us a good family which gives us a good community which equals a good nation.”

The two guest speakers Cllr Alan Rudge, Cabinet Member for Equalities and Human Resources for Birmingham City Council and David Darlston, Regional Director for Business in the Community followed the theme of ‘Big Society’.

The master of ceremonies was Sewa Singh Mandla a Trustee of the NCA, vote of thanks were given by the Vice Chairman, Prof Upkar Singh Pardesi.

The proceedings started with an instrumental music performance by students of Gurmat classes and Amritpal Singh.

Before a lavish meal was served Sikh prayers were recited by children from Nishkam Nursery, accompanied by the Headmaster Kulwant Singh Khalsa.

Five Centres of Excellence

The Nishkam Centre is one of the five Centres for Excellence created by the faith-based charity, Guru Nanak Nishkam Sewak Jatha. Chaired by Bhai Sahib Dr. Mohinder Singh Ahluwalia, who holds two honorary degrees from the city’s universities, it aims to serve and uplift society through the practice of core values, with nishkamta (the spirit of selflessness), being one of them.

Inspired by spirituality, the organisation has generated a flourishing culture of volunteering, which has contributed immensely to transform its visionary projects into a reality.

Success in just 5 years

In just five years, the Nishkam Centre’s successful engagement with local social capital to deliver innovative education, training, health screening, wellbeing, art and heritage has been acknowledged as a model of best practice for community regeneration and development.

The Centre’s mission is to practice and promote the universal values of earning an honest living; sharing; active selfless volunteering (nishkam sewa) while seeking the wellbeing of humanity and all creation (sarbat da bhalla). By applying these values in all its work, the organization aspires to develop and empower individuals so that they may help themselves, as well as others, in building strong families and sustainable communities.

Over £Million of Sewa

The £6m Nishkam Centre was built with more than £1.5m worth of nishkam sewa. It is the selfless service of active volunteers that is the life-blood of the work that is emerging here. The organisation’s nishkam sewadars (volunteers) work with passion, allegiance and commitment and it is their tireless effort and devotion that helps to build strong and sustainable communities in the UK and further afield. This mindset is extended to the Centre’s core staff team.

In the 1860’s Birmingham City gave birth to a dynamic Civic Gospel. Today we are witnessing a new civic spirit taking shape at the grass roots calling for renewed civic responsibility and action from our leaders and institutions. Spirituality and secularity are two sides of the same coin - faith in action, and for the Nishkam centre, an opportunity to integrate core Sikh values into civic action. Secularity and spirituality must fuse together to serve the common good.

Centre at forefront

The Nishkam Centre is at the forefront of advancing community and economic wellbeing; promoting interfaith, intercultural, intercommunity dialogue; and championing social justice and inclusion.

To deliver its mission, it has embedded and promotes active volunteering and selfless service for the benefit of humanity in all aspects of its work.

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