Charity Awards 2024

Kumon Y’all

Bridging community divides through an interfaith football event

Divisions in our local communities can be deep-seated, particularly when it comes to race and religion. For one predominantly Muslim community in Dewsbury, two events shone a harsh spotlight on how the Saville Town area was divided: the neighbourhood was the location of the UK’s youngest-ever terrorism arrest and home to the youngest suicide bomber; and the scene of a violent stabbing of a young person by members of a far-right group.

Kumon Y'AllThese events spurred local charity Kumon Y’all to take action to tackle drug abuse, anti-social behaviour and the rise of radicalisation and extremism among the town’s young people while challenging misunderstandings between local communities, especially Muslim and non-Muslim.

Engaging with young people directly, the charity asked them to brainstorm what could be done to bring people together. They came up with the idea of a football tournament. The young people contacted the different religious groups and their leaders to create the teams and, in 2013, the first Let’s Unite event brought together 15 teams of all ages and different religions in friendly competition, including a vicars versus imams match. Over 10 years, the event has grown to involve 40 youth teams and 12 adult teams, with more than 5,000 attendees and over 200 volunteers.

Young people’s engagement with both the charity and the community has increased since the inaugural tournament, while incidents of hate crime in the area have fallen. The charity ensures that women are given a voice and role in the management of the charity, and provided with equal opportunity for projects and resources.

Nowadays the event doubles as a fundraiser for Kumon Y’all and other local groups, and the charity has been approached by people from Bradford and Huddersfield to set up something similar for youth charities in those cities.

Awards judge Martin Edwards said the value for money is “off the scale” as the tournament is entirely volunteer-run and actually raises money for other charities. He also praised its focus on women’s empowerment and the fact that it is talking to other cities about exporting the model. “With 5,000 people coming along each year, it must be breaking down barriers. And they make a point of promoting women’s empowerment which I thought was very powerful.”

Judge Su Sayer said: “It’s totally replicable and could make a real difference in a lot of communities.”

CC Reg no. 1157414

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