Muslim-run centre aims to engage with all communities despite initial protests
Old pub to community hub
A new community centre, which took over six years to develop in the heart of Moortown, opened its doors for the first time last week with the aim of uniting the area’s diverse community.
The Lingfield Centre, on Lingfield Drive, has been established by the charity, UK Islamic Mission (UKIM), and aims to provide a space for people of all faiths and backgrounds to utilise.
At a cost of just under £600,000 to renovate, the former pub is now an asset to the area, with a prayer hall accompanied by a large community hall, kitchen, and soon-to-be gym, library and IT suite.
Despite far right protests against the site’s opening three years ago, chairman of UKIM Leeds, Mohammed Arif, says he is certain the centre will be warmly received.
“This site has admittedly been a long time coming,” he said. “It has been six years in the making and the launch event went really well with around 700 people turning out.
“I think opposition to the centre initially - certainly the more vocal opposition - came from a very small minority, fuelled by external factors. Today I don’t see working here as a challenge.”
Mr Arif added that it was ‘reassuring’ to see members of Muslim and non-Muslim communities turn out for the open day.
Plans are already in place to host a number of events at the centre in the near future to further strengthen interfaith relationships.
“The plan is to hold a number of events over the summer months,” he said, “with World Food Day and a barbeque afternoon already being discussed.
“The whole purpose of the centre is to get different communities to get to know each other, and stay true to our vision which is to engage with communities of different faiths and backgrounds.”
Although the site has opened without incident to date, a Facebook group - ‘Moortown and Leeds against the Islamic Centre’ – is still running with 735 members.