By Mrs Saj Ghafoor

Proprietor of HDM Spice Shop / ChiefOfficer

We opened our doors on 22nd January 2005.  Customers coming to HDM Spice Shop were and still are quite diverse.  For many ethnic minority groups, it was the first contact point, not just for ethnic food, but to find out about people from their minority groups, for friendship.  This led to me organising an Eid Milan celebration in October 2005, open to all, as an opportunity to get people socialising. Over 100 people came through leaflets handed out in the shop.

I organised another in October 2006, and what became evident was that people wanted more that just the opportunity to talk.

I then set up Asian Womens Group Carlisle (AWGC) with the intention to try and have activities focussed on involving & supporting Asian women, to help organise activities & events, by building their confidence & self esteem.  As a community group we applied for funding to host the 1st Culture Bazaar at Greystone Community Centre in July 2007.  Over 200 people attended.  There were some performers locally sources & Bollywood dance workshops.

In July 2008 the Culture Bazaar was at Trinity School in Carlisle.  there were workshops in music, dance, cooking and storytelling, activities and stands from various organisations, as well as performances in the main hall.  Over 1000 people attended the community’s Culture Bazaar.  Over 80 volunteers were ready to help.  It was a fantastic day, with a fun & friendly atmosphere.  But with the success of the Culture Bazaar, it also meant that more organisational help & support was required to make sure that the Culture Bazaar developed and got even better.  The most important ethos was to make sure that Cumbrians were involved in all aspects of the Culture Bazaar.  This is to get local people doing workshops, performances & demos, to build confidence in the whole community.

With that in mind, like minded people came together, who had skills and projects to enable Culture Bazaar to develop Culture Bazaar.  The aim was to try to involve people from all different heritages to get involved and represent a view of their culture and heritage through their eyes. Culture Bazaar allowed people the opportunity to share who they are and to be proud of their identity, young & old.  This includes British Culture as well as foreign cultures & nationalities and to be proud of who they are and comfortable in their own skin.

The Management Committee worked together to make sure that communities can come together to learn & experience different cultures in a friendly & sociable environment. All have other full time positions but all are committed to making a positive difference in Carlisle and in Cumbria.

Culture Bazaar went through management transition initially organised by Asian Womens Group (Carlisle), then by Cumbria Multicultural Network which was set up in January 2009, working with other groups such as, Asian Womens Group Carlisle, Nepalese Association & One Culture.

In December 2010 it was agreed to change the name again to Multicultural Carlisle, with changes to the management committee to enable adherence to the original aims & objectives.

In November 2019, Multicultural Carlisle registred as Multicultural Cumbria (CIO) a charitable Incorporated Organisation, with a new team of volunteer management.