By Janet Tansley
FAMILIES from different faiths, cultures and backgrounds who live side by side in Liverpool came together for a very special street party at the weekend.
Muslim home partners who helped build some of the new homes at the Housing People, Building Communities’ development in Granby-Toxteth organised the Eid al-Fitr celebration and invited all their neighbours along to join in.
A few special guests turned up too, including the Lord Mayor of Liverpool Malcolm Kennedy and the Lady Mayoress Mrs Liliana Kennedy.
Amel Mohamed, who lives in one of the charity’s Alt Street homes with her two daughters aged 15 and 12, helped organise the celebration.
“Eid is a very special festival for us and marks the end of Ramadan fasting, although we held this a little later than usual to fit in with other things,” Amel explained.
“The ending of the fasting month brings forth the celebration of Eid, where families cook and break bread with their loved ones. And so I thought what a wonderful way to share love and celebrate over food. It was in this spirit that the Alt Street Eid party came to mind.”
Amel continued: “In our faith our neighbours are very important to us and this was a chance for everyone to get to know each other better too. We all lead busy lives, we go to work, come home and don’t always spend enough time together. This was the perfect opportunity.
“Whatever our descent, lifestyle or background, we all have the capacity to extend love and be neighbourly. It was such a great way to connect and get to know one another and show each other that we are essentially the same, all striving for safety, security, love and connection, peace and unity.”
Invitations for the Eid celebration were headed up “You cannot love your brother across the world if you do not love your neighbour across the street” and, as well as providing food and drink for all their guests, the Muslim families organised a bouncy castle for the children, face painting and henna art.
The Lord Mayor Malcolm Kennedy said: “It was marvellous to talk to residents and the children. I’m so proud of what HPBC has achieved. It was great to be able to relax and enjoy everybody’s company.”
More than half of the 32 families who’ve made the HPBC Kingsley Road and Alt Street development their home turned up for the street party and many of them invited along other family members and friends to join in the fun.
Home partner Jess Lunt, who also helped build her Alt Street home, said: “It was fantastic to see everyone without tools in hand, and meet the last couple of neighbours we hadn’t met properly during the build. This was my first experience of an Eid celebration and I really enjoyed spending quality time with neighbours, eating the delicious food and getting a beautiful henna tattoo.
“Seeing the Lord Mayor on the bouncy castle with all the kids was also a highlight. I can’t wait for the next one and I’m already thinking about how I can contribute.”
Indeed plans are already in hand for the Eid al-Adha festival in September, also known as the Great Eid, which just happens to coincide with the 15-year anniversary of the HPBC charity being founded.
“All of the home partners have offered to pitch in and help with food and drink in September so that the hard work doesn’t just fall on the small group who mostly organised Saturday’s street party,” said Liza Parry, chief executive of Housing People, Building Communities.
The HPBC charity has won awards for its work in Liverpool, allowing home partners on modest incomes to help build their own home in return for a £10,000 contribution towards owning it. With the 32 homes in Kingsley Road and Alt Street now occupied, the charity is deep in negotiations to secure a second scheme to meet demand for its unique brand of low-cost housing.
For more information see www.hpbc.org.uk.