Chaitrali Chitre’s Sahyadri Friends Group wins UK PM award for Coventry community drives

Chaitrali Chitre’s Sahyadri Friends Group wins UK PM award for Coventry community drives
Courtesy: Sampad South Asian Arts

Chaitrali Chitre, from Coventry, runs Sahyadri Friends Group, an initiative which supports hundreds of women and families from the British Indian and wider South Asian community in the city.

Chaitrali was inspired to set up the group as a way of helping women who had moved to the city with their families and struggling with social isolation to connect with another, break down cultural barriers and take part in regular activities celebrating the differences and diversities within the community.

Prior to the pandemic, the group would hold over 30 events a year across Coventry, particularly around major Indian festivals including Holi and Diwali. Since the start of the coronavirus outbreak, Chaitrali and volunteers have moved all their activities online and have been running a range of sessions, such as Yoga, cooking, arts and crafts, to ensure people remain active and connected.

Chaitrali’s award coincides with the start of the Coventry City of Culture 2021 programme.

In a personal letter to Chaitrali, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: “I was inspired to hear about Sahyadri Friends Group, which brings together the British Asian community in Coventry. From cooking to Yoga and arts and crafts, your online activities have kept hundreds of families connected during lockdown.

“As we move to being able to meet again in person, and Coventry begins to celebrate its year of culture, I hope your groups continue and that those vital friendships flourish.”

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The Points of Light honours are conferred from Downing Street every weekday by the UK PM to outstanding individual volunteers and people making a change in their community.

Chaitrali said: “I am honoured to receive the award. I feel delighted and it is a great surprise to receive the award. I will keep up with the work I always love to do.

“I would like to thank my family (kids and husband) who are my strength. I would take the opportunity to thank my extended family (friends and well-wishers) who have been supportive throughout.

“I dedicate this award to my dad as what I am today, is because of him and his teachings.”

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