A new facility in Abergavenny where the Muslim community of Monmouthshire can practice their faith has been hailed a significant milestone for Muslim residents. The venue located in St. Michaels Community Centre means Muslim residents will be able to perform the Friday congregational prayer without having to travel outside Monmouthshire to places like Newport and Cardiff.

The securing of the venue follows the hard work and dedication of Monmouthshire County Council and partner organisations and is a step forward in recognising and celebrating the diverse communities in Monmouthshire.

The venue is central, on a bus route, accessible and benefits from a car park. The first service was held on Friday the 8th October 2021 with approximately 20 people attending the service, both men and women. It’s hoped the numbers will only increase as word spreads.

Local members are now seeking to create and develop an official community group, being the first group of its kind in Monmouthshire, and with a suggested name of ‘Monmouthshire Muslim Community Association’ to cater for the needs of the growing Muslim population in the county and will also create and develop projects engaging the wider communities. Examples of projects suggested:

·         Education – Faith open days for all communities, children & adult Arabic classes, exchange of good practice trips

·         Culture and religion – Eid card workshops, experience breaking fast during Ramadan, henna art, Muslim festivals

·         Health & Wellbeing  – women’s yoga, mental health workshop, health checks, cultural cooking workshops

·         Outdoor activities – day trips to experience welsh heritage, men’s fishing, walking groups

The local Syrian community, who have settled and integrated very well in Monmouthshire, will also be part of this project. Monmouthshire is also welcoming Afghan refugees and it’s hoped the new group will be able to connect those families who settle in the county, through catering and supporting their needs and help in introducing them to the community. This group will also be an important support group, not only for the existing community members, but also for any Muslim visitors or residents looking to visit or move to Monmouthshire.

Cabinet Member for Community Wellbeing and Social Justice, Councillor Lisa Dymock said: “Celebrating the diversity we have in Monmouthshire is extremely important and ensuring different communities can have the facilities and support they need to practice their faith or cultures in our county. I would like to thank Monmouthshire colleagues as well as partner organisations who have all worked tirelessly to make this happen. I am delighted this work will also focus on supporting Syrian and Afghan refugees who as we know have faced some of the most challenging circumstances any person can endure.”

For more information about the new facility or the Monmouthshire Muslim Community Association please contact shajanmiah@monmouthshire.gov.uk