What does South Asian Heritage Month mean to you?
This is the second year celebrating SAHM in the UK – as an event it’s in its infancy, the strapline speaks for itself - ‘Celebrate, Commemorate, Educate’. It a great opportunity for people to share their stories and experiences.
One thing that I particularly like about the programme of events is that it includes the LGBTQ+ community (historically, LGBTQ+ people within South Asian communities have tended to be silenced and marginalised to a greater extent than in other ethnicities).
What are you most proud of?
I am proud of my heritage and background; my dad is from the Punjab (state northwest of India) and came to the UK with my paternal grandad as an economic migrant in the 1960’s. My mum is born in Kenya. Her parents were indentured labourers recruited from India to construct the railways in East Africa, as Kenya was a British colony. I have forged my own identity and am fully connected to my roots.
What keeps you connected to your heritage?
Language, music and food! I speak Punjabi as this is my mother tongue and cook Punjabi food when I have the time! My children are exposed to the rich heritage of culture that spans the entire South Asian diaspora, and I hope they will pass on their knowledge to the next generation to come.
How can people support South Asian Heritage Month?
There is a lot of information on the SAHM website www.southasianheritage.org.uk
I can see SAHM growing and becoming bigger each year, much as Black History Month and LGBTQ+ History Month have grown from their beginnings to what they are today.
What conversations, if any, have you had with others inside or outside of work around South Asian heritage and culture?
I have had discussions with colleagues in the Group's Roots Network around race and identity – it’s great we have a safe space to engage in conversation without fear of judgment or unconscious bias.
What, in your view, could the Group be doing to be a more inclusive workplace?
There is always room for improvement, and any organisation needs to take the time to reflect on the area it operates in and the makeup of the employees it employs. I feel I can be myself at work (which speaks volumes in itself) – Progress Housing Group is an inclusive workspace. And we now have the LGBT, Carers and Roots networks that are open to all employees of the Group, which are going from strength to strength.
Find out more about South Asian Heritage Month by clicking here to visit the SAHM website.