30 March | Watford, UK [June Coombs]
A British Adventist, Enoch Kanagaraj, has been recognised for the contribution he has made to his church’s local community in Watford by being awarded the title of ‘Community Champion’ and travelled to 10 Downing Street, London, to meet the country’s Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak on Thursday, 23 March who thanked him for his contribution to society.
Each of the 650 Members of Parliament (MP) was asked to nominate somebody who has helped to make a difference to his/her constituency. Dean Russell, Watford’s MP, who is also a trustee of the charity One Vision, nominated Kanagaraj for his vision to tackle the needs of the town’s community. Later he wrote, ‘On behalf of the people of Watford I would like to thank Enoch for all of the fantastic work that he does through One Vision and its various initiatives. I don’t think there is a day when he is not doing something to help those around him.’
Just how did it all come about? Kanagaraj himself wonders. It all started with knocking on doors in the area surrounding Stanborough Park Church in Watford when he was part of the Church Community Services (CCS) team. However, he says, “As the CCS developed we recognised that the community needs were much greater than we could meet by ourselves. We began to connect and meet with other community organisations, charities and national government leaders, to explore how we could co-operate,” explained Kanagaraj. “So in 2018 it was decided to form a charity called ‘One Vision’, with the motto ‘Bringing People Together’, those with different cultural backgrounds, to address the needs of the Watford community.”
Soon afterwards the pandemic struck, the country went into lockdown and One Vision swung into action providing hot meals (here the local Gurdwara from the Sikh community played an important part) and distributing them along with food parcels to schools, isolated people and those in need, with the Stanborough Park church hall serving as a distribution centre. “My idea is to work with everybody, including those with post Covid mental health issues and collaborate with statutory bodies such as the police.” Wondering how One Vision and indeed church groups can support and intergrate with the community, Kanagaraj muses, “by finding a different way of doing things.”
Since One Vision was founded, many local initiatives have been set up including a partnership with the local health authority to help with loneliness and mental health issues, a Youth Council established for the town’s youth to share their views with the Mayor are just two examples.
So last week Kanagaraj found himself in a group of six Community Champions and their MP’s, attending a reception in 10 Downing Street to meet the British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak. He says that Mr. Sunak was aware of the good work One Vision has been doing and thanked him for his efforts to help the local community.
Of his award Kanagaraj says, ‘I am humbled and honoured to be nominated as a Community Champion. I am proud to represent the people of Watford.’ Summing up the events behind it and the fact that the One Vision charity is going ‘from strength to strength’, he finds it all ‘beyond my cognitive imagination…unexpected.’ He has never been afraid to share his faith and that he is an Adventist and attributes his success to the leading of the Holy Spirit.
And to think it all began with knocking on doors!
[Photos: courtesy of Enoch Kanagaraj]