Somalilandsun- The Wales Somaliland Community Achievement Awards returned to Cardiff after a brief pause for a few years, its return was highly anticipated and it didn’t disappoint as it certainly wasan exceptional and more enriched ceremony than previous years. Cardiff hosts one of the largest Somali communities in Britain, with seamen settling in Wales during the late 1800s, fast-forward to today and the community is thriving with Graduate Engineers, Doctors, Pharmacists, Accountants, Educators and other professionals ready to help shape the future of Wales and contribute to the development of Somaliland.
The awards were re-established for the purpose of acknowledgement, encouragement and raising the awareness of the talent that exists in the community. The awards celebrated the success of students from Key Stage 3 right up to PHD Level, Sporting Excellence Awards and Community Contribution was also recognised during the day. The ceremony which took place on Saturday at thenew state of the art Cardiff and Vale College, City Centre Campus and was opened by the college Vice Principal Emil Evans who set the tone for the awards and declared the college’s support for the community who live a stone throw away, there were many dignitaries from Councillors, University Professors, Cardiff and Vale University Health Board Executives, local MP Stephen Doughty, Third Sector Partners and Alun Michael, the Police and Crime Commissioner for South Wales and also theDeans of various faculties of the college who made presentations on the pathways available at the college.
Rt.Hon Alun Michael, the Police & Crime Commissioner for South Wales has himself been actively involved with the Somaliland Community for over two decades and said: “For 25 years as an MP and five years as the Police & Crime Commissioner I have worked closely with the Somaliland community in Cardiff and I am very proudof the contribution they have made to our Capital City of Cardiff.Achievements from this community have been many but they are not always seen and celebrated. That’s why the awards event is so important to buildingconfidence within the community and support from the wider communityofCardiff. I am delighted to see the awards event renewed and to give it myfull support.”Rt Hon Alun Michael
Hayaat Women Trust and SEF-Cymru were behind this year’s awards and often work together on projects and activities that enhance the livesof the Somaliland Community in Cardiff andFowzia Ali, Director of Hayaat Women Trust said that “I am very proud of the awards ceremony and recognising all our stars in the community and I want to say a massive thank you to all the Sponsors and Supporters who without them we wouldn’t have been able to pull this off and the Mums, Dads and Carers of the Achievers who go above and beyond to help their children succeed and become successful, last but not leasta huge Well Done to everyone recognised and that achieved an award – next year will be even bigger.”
Cardiff University has recently began conducting a pilot research project which focuses on the needs of the Somali community in Cardiff. Dr. Richard Gale and Dr. Andrew Williams who have worked closely with the community also pledged their support for the achievement ceremony. “Cardiff University expresses its full support for the Somali Awards Ceremony. These awards powerfully express the vital, though sometimes overlooked, role the Somali community plays within the social, cultural and economic life of Cardiff. We are proud to participate in an event that celebrates and gives voice to members of the Somali community in the city.” Dr. Richard Gale and Dr. Andrew Williams- Cardiff University.
Tom Overton, Head of Community Sport (Governance & Leadership) at Sport Walesthe national organisation responsible for developing and promoting sport and physical activity in Wales, said “It is so exciting to be part of this celebration to recognise the achievements of the Welsh Somali Community, particularly the sporting achievements. I hope that those receiving awards today can be the aspirational role models for others to achieve their potential in the future.”
The awards were also a chance to bring people in the community together by creating volunteering opportunities in the planning process and to identify nominations to ensure the event runs smoothly. Somali students studying at Cardiff University organised themselves commendablyto be available and lend a hand every step of the way and they were rightfully recognised for this. The country’s first ever Somali society was co-founded by Sara Kalinleh, as the Society President she said: “We’re thrilled that the awards have returned this year and we are even more pleased to be part of the revival which has allowed society members to actively become a part of the community and be role models for those growing up. We are also pleased to have been given the chance to assist and look forward to mentoring young people being awarded today on reaching university.”Co-founder and President of Cardiff University Somali Society- Sara Kalinleh
Mr. Ali Abdi, one of the Awards Organiser says “the awards ceremony was attended by over 250 members of the community and was an opportunity to shine the light on the hugely talented and successful members of the Somalilandcommunity who often don’t get any positive attention, however after 100 plus awards in 10 categories there is a buzz in the air now that will pave the way for younger members of the community to identify with their new role models and one day follow in their footsteps, work hard, not give up and be recognised at future awards.”