A CASE STUDY
Gujarat Hindu Society is a registered charity, established in 1965. They have a membership of 600 Hindu families residing in the Preston and district. The Society bought an old school in 1974 for the purpose of socialising and creating a place of worship. The building was bought for £17,500 with £900 in the bank. A bank loan was obtained with the help of security given by the trustees.
The official opening took place in August 1975 and the centre became a focal point for the Hindu community both locally and nationally. Within two years, the bank loan was repaid. Plans were put in place to build an extension for the provision of teaching of Gujarati Language. In 1981, HRH Prince of Wales officially opened the Gita Hall.
The centre continued to provide various activities functioned by the committee members and volunteers. The youth initiated and hosted Youth Festival for three consecutive years.
In 1988 with the co-operation of all other Hindu organisations in the North West the Society organised the first Ramayana recital by Pujya Morari Bapu, a renowned and revered high priest. The nine day programme attracted 8000 devotees and accommodated 2500 in Preston. The event raised £108,000 net for the water relief programme in remote villages in India. The Society actively organises events and have raised and distributed £10,000 to local charities.
In 1992 when unemployment was rising the Society made a decision to tackle this issue by making an application to Home Office under the section 11 Ethnic Minority Grant. This was the beginning of the new phase and in its core activities and established the Gujarat Training and Resource Centre, providing adult guidance and customised training. The project with support from the then Lancashire Area West Training and Enterprise Council, has helped many members from the community, from all cultural background, to obtain employment, receive guidance and support towards further and higher education and enterprise opportunities.
As activities and provision augmented, the Society created a vision to expand the accommodation to meet these needs. In 1995 a feasibility study was conducted and ventured to redevelop the whole Centre and provide a new purpose-build facility for the new millennium. The Management had a vision of creating a Centre of Excellence to promote the Hindu culture, provide recreational, leisure and healthy lifestyle facilities together with temple for the Hindu community of Preston and District.
At the end of 1996 Enterprise plc was appointed as consultants to submit an application to the millennium Commission for a capitol grant towards the redevelopment of the new Centre. The application was successful and a grant of £1.64 million was awarded towards the total project cost of £3.28 million. The project commenced on 23rd March 1998 and was completed on 22nd November 1999. During the redevelopment phase the office and activities transferred to a site on 48 West Cliff purchased by the Society. The Centre was officially opened on 4th December 1999.
From the beginning to the end of the redevelopment stages, auspicious religious ceremonies such as land purification, stone laying and inauguration were performed keeping within the conformity and principles of Vaastu Shashtra to provide mental and spiritual peace, prosperity and progress for the users of the Centre.
The complex covers 24,500 square feet floor space. A purpose built temple features carved and sculptured Shikhar (spire), Gopuram (dome) and pillars in marble and pink stone. The main multi-purpose hall with a capacity to seat 800 is used for conferences, weddings and other events. On the first floor, the Centre offers a range of meeting / training rooms varying in size from 200 sq. ft. to 400 sq.ft. One of the room contains a tailored ICT suite with 18 computers. A dedicated PA control room provides sound and media facilities. A large customised kitchen provides catering facilities during major functions.
The Society, with a management committee of 15 volunteers who manages the day to day management of the Centre is supported by a full time manager, a care taker and two part time administrative staff.
The key to fulfilling the vision and attaining a Centre of Excellence, the success of the South Meadow Lane Community Centre / Temple project was a combination of dedication, commitment and professionalism of the voluntary committee members, the Hindu community and the support from the local agencies, operating within the constraints and issues of a voluntary and charitable status. Jay Shree Krishna..