About Dacorum Indian Society (DIS)

Dacorum Indian Society evolved over number of years. In 1972, 30 families who were expelled from Uganda decided to settle in Hemel Hempstead. They were helped to settle by New Town Commission, currently Dacorum Borough Council, Salvation Army, Churches Together, Hemel Hempstead Lions Club and a few resident Indians. They came penniless and the housing and jobs were provided to them by the council and the local industry.

In order to preserve Indian Culture, Language, religion and social structure an organisation under the name of Friends of India was formed.

Some members of Ugandan Asians Major Frank Ward of Salvation Army & Peter Bhagwat of Hemel Hempstead Lions Club

This enabled them to start Gujarati Classes with the voluntary help of Mr & Mrs Brahmbhatt and Mr Toprani.  To preserve culture and religion, majority of activities such Holi, Janmashtami, Navratri, Diwali and Jalaram Jayanti were regularly celebrated each year. In late seventies the name of the organisation was changed to Eastern Cultural Society.

In order to combat racism Hemel Hempstead Anti-Racism Council (H.A.R.C.) was formed, in which some of our members joined, and promote multiculturalism Dacorum Multicultural Association was formed. The main purpose of the DMA was to discuss the difficulties faced by the ethnic minorities and present them to the executives of the Borough Council. A need of Multicultural Centre was identified by research, but it never transpired. Some of our members took active part in local charitable organisations like Dacorum Council of Voluntary Service (DCVS), Age Concern, and Lions Club, which aided recognition of the Eastern Cultural Society. Vasanti Chury with the help of Age Concern started elderly peoples Saffron Club & Cinnamon Club. Cinnamon Club was initially run by elderly Asians preparing lunch and sharing with the local elderly Asians. This ran for several years with the help of Vasanti Chury.

June Street Chief Executive of DCVS organised an event The Family Around us to bring all the ethnic minorities together. In the exhibition each organisation demonstrated their cultural values, Henna Painting, Indian Music & Dance. It was a successful event.

Parents of Ugandan Asians worked very hard to meet the children education and also buying property for themselves. Their struggle eventually paid off, by their children achieving good results and securing good jobs as pharmacist, accountants, IT specialist, and dentist.

In late nineties an event European Year against Racism was organised by the current Chief Executive of DCVS, which resulted in forming Communities Together Forum replacing Dacorum Multicultural Association. Eastern Cultural Society was renamed in year 2000 to Dacorum Indian Society. A further need was identified to the council to have an ethnic minority development worker, and Santoshni was appointed to carry out this job. Her role was to assist ethnic minorities and bridge the gap between the Council and the ethnic minorities.

Her assistance helped to develop Dacorum Indian Society in achieving grant to run Yoga sessions, Music, Dance, IT, English Language, cookery Classes. This gave lot of opportunity for the ethnic minorities to participate in various activities. She also helped to receive grants from various sources to run above activities. Dacorum Borough Council also gave an allotment to DIS to grow fruits and vegetables. With above activities DIS managed to grow faster and involve the community to participate in various activities. DIS managed to achieve membership of over 125 families.

Members of DIS also took part in multicultural evenings organised by Hemel Hempstead, Tring, and Longdean Schools, demonstrating Henna Painting, Indian Sweet making, and Indian traditional dance.

In 2015 it was fortieth Anniversary of the settlement of Ugandan Asians in Hemel Hempstead, and to commemorate this event a program was organised in John F. Kennedy School to thank all the organisations, which helped Ugandan Asians to settle in Hemel Hempstead peacefully. With the help of the DIS committee members and the volunteers and event raised over £3000 towards the local charities. A booklet was written by number of people associated with DIS over the years, which gives history of migration by Ugandan Asians to United Kingdom and the achievement by them to help the economy of UK. The booklet was sponsored by Manojbhai’s mother & Masi.

Following amount was donated to various local, national & international charities:-
UNICEF for young children……………………………… £500.00
DENS Dacorum Emergency Night Shelter………           £250.00
Salvation Army……………………………………………   £250.00
Shop Mobility………………………………………………  £250.00
Iain Rennie Grove House Hospice……………………     £250.00
St. Luke’s Hospice…………………………………………  £250.00
British Heart Foundation………………………………… £200.00
National Blind Society for the Children……………       £250.00
National Deaf Society for the Children……………        £250.00
Diabetic UK…………………………………………………  £200.00
RNOH Charity………………………………………………£285.00

Total                                                              £2935.00

 

DIS Secretary Chimanbhai