26 January 2023 – Bexley Wellbeing Partnership Meeting, 2.00pm to 4.00pm, Council Chamber, London Borough of Bexley Civic Offices, 2 Watling Street, Bexleyheath, DA6 7AT. Join the Bexley Wellbeing Partnership Committee as this month we focus on Improving Accessibility to Services. You will hear about our work to ensure inclusive, equitable access to healthcare services for […]
“I love how rich and colourful Punjabi culture is and relish the opportunity to share it with others.”
Jattinder Rai is CEO of Bexley Voluntary Services Council (BVSC), which supports and amplifies the voice of voluntary and community organisations in the borough. Until recently Jatinder co-ordinated Community Connect social prescribing service, supporting local people to improve their health and wellbeing by connecting them with activities, support and services across the borough.
What does South Asian Heritage Month mean to you?
For me, it provides an opportunity to celebrate South Asian Heritage, and the various vibrant, energetic, wonderful cultures that it includes across different countries. It’s a chance to open conversations and raise awareness of different languages (If I had a pound for every time I’ve been asked if I speak Indian…), and learn about different religions, traditions, and customs. Regardless of our heritage, we all have so much to learn from each other, and equally so much to share.
Tell us what you are proud of about your South Asian Heritage
Oh, so much! I’m a British born Sikh Punjabi, I grew up in south east London, but Punjabi was, and is, my first language. The first English word I learnt was ‘teacher’ when I started school.
I am very proud to share my heritage through Bhangra, which is much more than ‘screwing a lightbulb’ and ’patting the dog’. One of my greatest moments, was being able to share this form of Punjabi folk dance at the 2012 Olympic Closing ceremony. It was a phenomenal experience and wonderful to be able to share with the world. I love how rich and colourful Punjabi culture is and relish the opportunity to share it with others.Putting aside the dazzling clothes and delicious food, I’m proud of the smaller moments – seeing the community come together during hard times, from food-packages home cooked by aunties (that technically aren’t related), to Guru Ka Langar – providing free hot food to all those in need. It’s always during the most difficult moments, that I appreciate my heritage the most. That, and weddings, if you haven’t been to a Punjabi wedding, you are truly missing out!
What support can the South Asian community access through BVSC and the Voluntary Sector?
Voluntary and Community organisations have been instrumental in tackling health inequalities to date. We’re keen to work closely with, and as part of, the Integrated Care System to build on existing work, and provide more targeted support within individual communities.