Preston's Pukar Centre says thank you to volunteers

Volunteers and carers were the VIPs at a special celebration held at Preston’s Pukar Centre.

By Fiona Finch
Tuesday, 26th April 2022, 12:30 pm

The Pukar Disability Resource Centre in Avenham gives disabled adults and their carers access to information, resources, education and training, with the help of trained staff and volunteers.

A special appreciation afternoon attended by city Mayor Coun Javed Iqbal turned the spotlight on those helpers.

During the celebrations trustees and staff highlighted the dedicated work of volunteers and the difference they make to the lives of local disabled people.

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Pukar Disability Centre volunteers Photo: Neil Cross

Service manager Younus Khan said “Although the doors were closed to the public for a short time during Covid, we provided continuous support for people over the telephone. Work did not stop. We remained pro-active and classes went online for a short time. We are now as busy as ever with case work and dealing with new enquiries.”

The mayor handed out certificates to volunteers and praised the charity’s work, especially during the pandemic. He thanked trustees, staff and volunteers and said: “Organisations like Pukar were the heroes and backbone of society, particularly how they managed during Covid.”

Nahid Qurban, Pukar’s outreach/volunteer coordinator highlighted the work of volunteers and revealed how, as part of a recent initiative with national charity the Shannon Trust, Pukar is working to train volunteer reading coaches who will be able to support disabled people who are struggling to read.

Preston mayor Coun Javed Iqbal meets Pukar Disability Centre Chair Keith Holden Photo:Neil Cross

Keith Holden, the Chair of Pukar, thanked all volunteers, trustees, staff and partners as well as funders for their support. Announcing that the National Lottery Reaching Communities fund has provided a further three years funding for the Centre in Oakham Court he said that further funding would also be needed: “We are delighted to have received this funding, but we still need to source further funding to ensure the much needed current service provision can be provided and the centre continues to be sustainable.”

The Pukar charity was founded in 1999 by Poppy Tana who contracted polio at an early age and became confined to a wheelchair following an accident. She challenged discrimination against disability and the isolation endured by many disabled people and their carers.

City councillor Coun Nweeda Khan, cabinet member for communities and social justice told those attending the celebration: “Pukar has reached many milestones since its origins. All credit to the work Pukar has done including the diversification of your work.”

The centre says it provides a range of support, advice and information which is sensitive to culture, faith and language, as well as organising educational, social and leisure activities. Its staff and volunteers are aware that if English is not a first language for a disabled person this can create additional isolation within the community and create more barriers in being able to access essential support services. The centre provides English language classes, IT classes, and supports people with disabilities, carers and volunteers seeking employment.

Mayor of Preston Coun Javed Iqbal pictured with trustees, staff and volunteers from the Pukar Disability Centre at the Centre's recent celebration afternoon Photo: Neil Cross

The afternoon event also featured acounts from those helped by the Pukar Centre who revealed how they had lost confidence as a result of their disability. The Centre is now looking for new reading coaches and training will be provided. If are interesting in volunteering or want further information about its work contact the Centre on 01772 822700 or see its website www.pukar.org.uk or here