I visited the Al Falah Institute in Hayes and met with Mariam Tariq who started the Institute over fourteen years ago to serve the local community, particularly women, who come together to learn and socialise. Langley College tutors regularly attend the Institute to deliver courses in the community from English and maths skills to helping children with homework.
In September of 2023, the Institute was the object of an horrific arson attack, with Qurans piled up in the middle of the centre and set on fire. the damage affected every room, making it uninhabitable for the members.
In mid-December I met with the ladies at the Institute, who greeted me with such a warm welcome. After giving me a tour of the damage, they invited me into one of the rooms they had managed to clean up for meetings and classes to carry on. They had all brought in rugs and heaters from home and washed the walls of blackened soot to make it cosy and hospitable.
Over tea, they told me about their time at the institute, some coming here for over 12 years. They talked about the things they have learned over the years, friends they had made and wanting to expand their offering to teach young children after school and hold more classes for adults.
They are stoic, compassionate and dogmatic in their belief that the Institute will go on. They don’t preach hatred for the assailants; they preach understanding and benevolence.
The Al-Falah Institute is not just a building, it is a vital hub in a diverse community, a place for everyone. The community understands this and has come together in force to raise money through a go-fund me page, led by Langley’s Community Programme Manager Nourine Ahmad, to pay for the centre to have enhanced security so that the women feel safe again.
The building will be repaired and the Institute will endure and the ladies will continue to grow and learn and come together as a community. Langley College and The Windsor Forest Colleges Group will continue to serve this community and remain its closest friends.