My Home Away from Home: Untold Immigration Stories from the South Asian Community in Harrow

My Home Away from Home: Untold Immigration Stories from the South Asian Community in Harrow.

Mental Health still remains a huge taboo subject in all South Asian Communities and taking part in an exhibition for mental health awareness week is a great opportunity for us to share what some groups and individuals  are already doing to change this as well as share about our South Asian Heritage.

This exhibition allows us to showcase what’s important to us and can hopefully support people to start those difficult but important conversations.

Scroll down through this exhibition

Roundtable Mental Health Discussion

The roundtable discussion on mental health and immigration was an opportunity to explore how far we have come in talking about mental health in the South Asian community and the things we need to continue doing. There is such a rich history of our movement in the UK and how far we have carried our heritage but also how much we have evolved and challenged our cultural norms. Exploring these topics with ReRoute, Mindful Mens Club and MforMenopause, who have all been created and run by South Asians, covering how we work, how we talk about mental health, the power of language and how, even in our own lives, so much has changed about how we talk openly about mental health, was an enriching and lively discussion. 

With thanks to Aarti Kumari from Mental Wealth, Madhu Kapoor from M for Menopause, Sonam Patel from ReRoute and Manoj Sangany from Mindfulness Men’s Group

About Mental Wealth

A confidential, safe and supportive space for South Asians (aged 30 – 60) in North West London who are on a journey with their mental health.

About Reroute

We are a peer support group for South Asian (SA) women in their 20’s and 30’s. We provide a means to have conversations about issues related to mental health, wellbeing and mental health awareness. 

Since mental health is still a taboo in the SA community, often we’ve not had a chance to speak openly about this in our homes, work or relationships. Having a dedicated space where we can freely talk without being judged is our way of breaking the taboo. By consistently talking about mental health, we normalise it and it increases our confidence as individuals in speaking about mental health awareness, our own struggles etc. We are able to reassure one another that this isn’t just us, and then also increase our own knowledge and awareness.  We currently meet once a month (Saturday afternoons) via zoom.

About Mindfulness Men's Group

The Mindful Mens Club is a group for men brought together by a common purpose: Inspiring positive motion forward through conversation, personal growth and self-development. 

This group was initially created for men of the South Asian community to come together to discuss mental health as none existed at the time. Our events are now open to all men over 18 as mental health affects us all. This is a space for like-minded individuals to come together to connect, grow & inspire each other. Throughout the course of our events we will go deep into a wide range of topics that impact mental health, including finance, wealth, health, relationships, spirituality, business, career and many more.

Follow us on social media to stay updated on our latest posts and events! 

About M for Menopause

Madhu Kapoor is 55 years old, a British Asian who is the founder of M for Menopause and who has supported and became the Co founder of Mental Wealth. Madhu’s menopause journey was horrific; she struggled at home, socially and at work. As her symptoms became severe her relationships broke down and she resigned from work abruptly. Having been surrounded by women all her life she had never been involved in any open discussions about the menopause and unexpectedly it hit her like a ton of bricks. 

For this reason M for Menopause aims to encourage open conversations about the menopause and to increase knowledge by holding workshops, to support women, employers and families.

Visit here for further support or guidance

Mind in Harrow

Whether you need support for yourself, or are supporting a friend or family member with their mental health, Mind in Harrow have a range of services to empower anyone experiencing a mental health problem from all our local communities. You can find out more about what we offer here.

Food

Across all South Asian Communities, food is an essential part of our heritage.  Food is something that brings people together, be it on festival days, special occasions such as birthdays/anniversaries or  just an excuse to eat good food. Many of the dishes are similar.  Alot of communities use similar spices but it’s the way in which things are made that can vary as well as the ingredients.

Food connects us to our culture and heritage and reminds us of home when we are far away and is often connected to many stories shared over a meal.

Diwali Recipe Book

Check out our Diwali in Harrow 2020 project for recipes and cooking videos from the South Asian community in Harrow.

Music & Film

As South Asians, most of us have been surrounded by Bollywood be it through movies or music. I was fortunate enough to interview two key individuals within the industry. Firstly, Pushpinder Chowdhry, Co Director of Tongues of fire (UK Asian Festival) which commenced in 1998. Secondly, Tony Gill Co-Director of Media House, a Diversity PR/ Marketing Agency. We spoke of our fond memories we had growing up with Bollywood, the role cinemas play and the special place Bollywood holds within the UK Asian community. Our discussion also covered our culture, our values and the evolution of Bollywood through technology and down generations.

Bollywood Cinema Story by Munish Kalia

Tongues on Fire & The UK Asian Film Festival

Tongues On Fire is a not-for-profit organisation and we provide a platform for independent film and arts with a link to South Asia. We celebrate South Asian culture, its vibrancy and it’s many dimensions through storytelling, live events, master-classes and cinema screenings. The company provides a platform for emerging talent to showcase their work, offers networking occasions with industry leaders and provides wider learning opportunities for the filmmaking community. Tongues On Fire is also the producer of The UK Asian Film Festival, previously The London Asian Film Festival, which aims to entertain, inform and educate. This annual film festival has been going strong for over twenty years and champions the arts and cinema, intertwining political and social messages with entertainment

This film is part of the UK Heritage Lottery-funded UK Asian Film Festival research project Memories Through Cinema. Please contact info@tonguesonfire.com for any enquiries

Nature in Harrow

Nature is a big part of many South Asian Communities.  Looking through old photo albums of my grandparents back in Kenya, every family picture was taken in a local park which had lots of rose bushes and beautiful flowers.  These photos are very similar to scenes you would find in a good old classic Bollywood movie.

When a lot of families did come to the UK in the late 60’s/early 70’s many people couldn’t afford their own house with a garden and so many people would spend time in their local parks and get involved in local and community gardening groups.  This was a way to integrate into the local area as well as spend time outdoors.  Many people back home would have come from places where they mostly spent time on their farms and so were not used to the small, cramped spaces that England offered.  Being out in nature gave people freedom.

Mala Vadgama Nature Photography Exhibition

Mala Vadgama is an artist and photographer from Harrow who has struggled with depression and anxiety in the past thus started this project to show people that others in their community also have struggles. The collection of images were also part of the Equality Exhibitions held by the charity Equality Council UK. Mala continues to work on this passion project in her own time to share more stories and continue to encourage conversations about mental health.

See more on Instagram

Stories from the Community

Saz

Punitha

Sejal

Shay

Ramesh

Ritu

Raj

Krishna

Hitz

Nina Rajarani

Shereen

Sonam

Thank you for viewing this exhibition

About the co-curators:

Aarti Kumari:
I have volunteered with Mental Wealth for almost 2 years. Being so passionate about mental health and wellbeing it has been great to be part of a team and organisation that wants to de-stigmatise mental health in the South Asian community. Growing up as South Asian there were not many spaces for me to be open about the things I struggled with, and I found it difficult to give myself permission to not be okay. Being part of Mental Wealth means that I can help create these spaces for others which is something I am very grateful for.

Sonam Patel:
Founder of Reroute, HR professional and Mental Health First aider. Passionate about mental health awareness and women empowerment, especially in South Asian communities.

Madhu Kapoor & Mental Wealth:
My name is Madhu Kapoor. I have set up my company M for Menopause where I support women, families and employers by breaking the taboo of menopause. I became involved with Mental Wealth from when it first started in July 2019. I joined as I believed that there was a need in the community to support women, for them to know that they are not alone and destigmatize mental health.

Jennal Amin:
I founded Mental Wealth in July 2019 because I was often told by many South Asian women that they had no culture specific space to go to for support. Many people whom i supported whilst working in the mental health field often felt neglected, isolated and misunderstood.  Many voiced their concerns for the lack of South Asian spaces and so Mental Wealth was born.

Mental health still remains a huge stigma in our communities and I wanted to create a safe space where people felt they could be themselves, be heard and go away with something they could practically apply in their own lives.

I hope by having these difficult and uncomfortable conversations, they will one day lead to all of us being able to talk openly about mental health at least starting with ourselves.

Social Tags:

Mentalwealth 
Facebook – letstalkmentalwealth
Instgram – @mentalwealthorg

Reroute
Facebook – letsgetmentallywealthy
Instagram – @reroute_org

Acknowledgements:

Mental Wealth
ReRoute
Mindfulness Men’s Group
Tongues on Fire
Dr Pushpinder Chowdhry MBE
Tony Gill
Mala Vadgama
Cardamom Kitchen
Mr Munish Kalia
Queen Mary University of London
Hitz
Sejal
Ramesh Perinparaja
Raj
PUNITHA PERINPARAJA
Shay
Ritu Soni:
Krishna James
Saz Vora
Mind in Harrow