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Festival of Cultures brings people from different backgrounds together

PUBLISHED: 17:01 20 January 2018

The Norwich and Central Norfolk MIND mental health charity's Festival of Cultures at the Forum. Bulgarian dancers from left, Sasha Todorova; Violeta Lasarov with her two-month-old daughter Victoria; and Violeta's mum, Mariana Vladova. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

The Norwich and Central Norfolk MIND mental health charity's Festival of Cultures at the Forum. Bulgarian dancers from left, Sasha Todorova; Violeta Lasarov with her two-month-old daughter Victoria; and Violeta's mum, Mariana Vladova. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Copyright: Archant 2018

A celebration of different cultures aimed at bringing people from diverse backgrounds together took place in Norwich.

The Norwich and Central Norfolk MIND mental health charity's Festival of Cultures at the Forum. Lily Cavell, eight, draws at the stand for Art 4 Youth at the Norwich School of Fine Art. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYThe Norwich and Central Norfolk MIND mental health charity's Festival of Cultures at the Forum. Lily Cavell, eight, draws at the stand for Art 4 Youth at the Norwich School of Fine Art. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Mental health charity Norwich and Central Norfolk Mind held its 11th Festival of Cultures at The Forum on Saturday.

The group said it wanted to celebrate cultural diversity and increase awareness and understanding amongst communities.

The Norwich and Central Norfolk MIND mental health charity's Festival of Cultures at the Forum. Bulgarian dancer Violeta Lasarov with some of her Bulgarian dishes. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYThe Norwich and Central Norfolk MIND mental health charity's Festival of Cultures at the Forum. Bulgarian dancer Violeta Lasarov with some of her Bulgarian dishes. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Paola Colombo, of the Wellbeing Service, described the festival as a day of celebration for everyone who came from a different cultural background to show how proud they were of where they came from.

She said while Norwich was becoming increasingly diverse, it was not easy for people from other countries to adapt to life in the city.

The Norwich and Central Norfolk MIND mental health charity's Festival of Cultures at the Forum. Patience Unazi at the Society Alive stand with colourful bags and shirts on display. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYThe Norwich and Central Norfolk MIND mental health charity's Festival of Cultures at the Forum. Patience Unazi at the Society Alive stand with colourful bags and shirts on display. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

“Many find it difficult to settle. It could be because they don’t speak English, battle with the weather or don’t have support.

“This creates stress, depression and anxiety,” she said.

The Norwich and Central Norfolk MIND mental health charity's Festival of Cultures at the Forum. Yoann Takev, five, with a picture he has made of a flying dragon. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYThe Norwich and Central Norfolk MIND mental health charity's Festival of Cultures at the Forum. Yoann Takev, five, with a picture he has made of a flying dragon. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

“We try to help them deal with these issues through a guidance and information service.”

She said exhibitors at Saturday’s festival included the Association of Norfolk and Norwich Muslims.

The Norwich and Central Norfolk MIND mental health charity's Festival of Cultures at the Forum. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYThe Norwich and Central Norfolk MIND mental health charity's Festival of Cultures at the Forum. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Lutfur Rahman, who was representing two mosques in Rose Lane, Norwich, said the event had been a success.

“We have been promoting Islam and there has been a lot of interest from people,” he said.

“We have found Norwich people to be very friendly and interested in what we do.”

Arabic coffee and food from west Africa and Bulgaria were also available for visitors to try.

“We also had some fitness activities on the go for people to take part in,” said Mrs Colombo.

Ruth Taylor, of Norwich and Central Norfolk Mind, said cultural identity was the cornerstone of “our wellbeing and good mental health”.

“Norwich has a long history of being welcoming to strangers,” she added.

“But in recent years we’ve seen a rise in Islamaphobia, issues around immigration and a rise in hate crime, which places stress on minority communities.”

She said events such as the Festival of Culture and community work undertaken by a range of organisations was making a difference.

“We’ve definitely built stronger relations with the black, minority and ethnic communities and have helped changed perceptions.”

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