Lalita Parmar has been nominated by IWC member Pria Bhabra. Pria says “Lalita is a key figure in the Indian community in West Leeds. From a young age (she is now retired), she has volunteered with the local temple to bring people together and has been key in helping to connect those furthest away who are elderly, vulnerable, or isolated.
Lalita is often seen at events with key people from the temple who appreciate the links she makes. Whatever Lalita feels something could benefit the community, she takes action by listening, finding out information, sharing information, signposting, engaging the temple to become part of networks and to share good practice.”
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Who has she helped/who will she help?
“Lalita initially started to bring young girls together to learn dance, to talk about the things they liked and helped improve their confidence and wellbeing. This then led to a boys group to participate in sports activities. She maximised the use of the community hall and this created a wonderful atmosphere for people of all ages.
She then went on to deliver education classes that lasted for many years. The key was for people to learn English, to engage with services, integrate and promote their independence.”
“Trust and building relationships has taken time but has led to change in the community over the years as she has given the community what they have asked for. She has maximised the use of the community hall as a ‘for all’ to use and participate.
Women discussing issues in relation to health led to Lalita bringing services closer to the community, the women never thought this was even possible. Her volunteering efforts also supported a group for older people and she spent a lot of time listening and signposting to services where she would start to support engagement through interpreting and advocacy.
She has engaged closely with services including Leeds City Council and she said ‘working with services keeps me updated so I can ensure I share accurate information and messages and this is even more important now during this pandemic’.
She raised concerns about the community kitchen and the need for those who cooked, cleaned, and served, to have a Food Hygiene certificate, all of whom have now achieved. This too was achieved by bringing the training to the community and negotiating the budget.”
What has she learned? Any challenges?
“Lalita feels that it is not always easy to just signpost people even when services are available. She once supported a woman with two children to flee domestic violence and supported them on an ongoing basis for six months to access support before they were ready to take the next step of independence.
This changed the lives of this family who never thought they would be out of the situation that they were in. Lalita feels that it is not always about money either and that challenges continue with funding cuts. She has achieved so much through her volunteering efforts and encourages the community to come on board to put back, and continue supporting each other.”
“Lalita has been busy during the pandemic to ensure that older people are engaged. She has made phone calls and encouraged sons and daughters to support their parents with technology and access zoom.
She has also visited those isolated members to support them. She is now working on how to digitally include those who have limited access, or skills and is ensuring that they are able to engage via zoom with the help of other volunteers.
Some vulnerable older people are becoming more engaged through virtual support and Lalita continues to support and provide language skills to improve communication.”
Why we’re sharing these stories
Each year, an individual or organisation from each of our five categories plus one exceptional judges’ choice individual is recognised at our annual Igniting Inspiration celebration event.
We publish each and every nomination to raise awareness of all the positive work that goes on in the North. While, this year, our physical event had to be deferred, our campaign to spread stories of positive social impact continues – good news is needed!