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Crossing cultures with housing advice

Date posted: 17 Feb 2014

Housing provider Riverside’s The Crossings hostel in Hull held a fantastic diversity day to celebrate the expansion of its advice services. Performances, food and drink were part-funded by Church Housing Trust and showcased the city’s various international communities.

The event, on 29 January, was held at The Crossings housing and training centre, which provides temporary housing, support, training and advice to homeless people. Visitors were greeted with an array of craft stalls displaying traditional items from a number of nations and treated to creative workshops, music, dance and entertainment. Alongside hostel residents, Hull locals, partner organisations of the hostel and Hull City’s Councillors were invited to join the festivities.

Event highlights included members of the Hull branch of the Russian Community Association, who brought along a collection of regional headdresses and shawls, then performed a traditional folk dance routine for guests to enjoy, plus representatives from the local Ghanaian Association, who performed native songs with a selection of African drums.

Gareth Owens has been at the hostel for four months and volunteers at its café. He helped to prepare the various international dishes on offer to visitors at the open day. “The food was all new to me – cooking it was a good learning curve,” he explains. The global cuisine went down well, especially for those residents who had never had the opportunity to try dishes such as traditional Indian curry or chickpea soup before. Some food was so popular that the kitchen staff have been requested to make it a regular part of The Crossings’ menu.

Gareth and the others in the kitchen served about 150 people over the course of the day, so he was almost too busy to take part in all of the other activities going on. When he did get out to view some of the performances, he saw a number of the residents on their feet with the dancers – quite an achievement. He even got a henna design applied; delicate flowers that contrasted with his existing tattoos.

Gareth adds that it was such a great experience for the hostel that they want to do it again. “Everyone got involved – in the morning people were setting up stalls when they’d normally be in bed.” The event even improved the residents’ links with the local community. “People that I’d never seen before came in from other projects and met one another. Everyone learnt about other religions and beliefs.”

All in all, the event was thoroughly enjoyed by everyone, except perhaps Area Manager Linda’s sore feet at the end of a long day!

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