Introducing: Hyde Park Unity Day
If you live in Hyde Park, you may have seen the Unity Day logo dotted around on posters or murals on the walls of the area’s distinctive red brick terraces. Despite this recognition, you probably don’t know what the day involves, or why it exists. Ironically, this lack of understanding between students and natives is one of the reasons why it is in establishment. We spoke to Amit Roy and Arran Haj-Najafi, the duo from Unity Day, to find out more ahead of the fundraiser at the HiFi Club on Friday 17th June.
Could you tell us about the events that led to the establishment of the Unity Day Charity? Who set up Unity Day and why was it necessary?
Hyde Park Unity Day was set up by the Hyde Park Residents association after the riots of 1995 to highlight the positives of living, working and studying in Hyde Park.
All artists and volunteers are recruited through open Public Meetings to take on the wide range of organisational aspects of programming an event.
There are no paid members or consultants of the team and all acts perform free of fees. The event compromises of more than music. There are sporting activities, a local dog show, children’s games, as well as stalls from community groups, residents associations and private enterprises.
The aims of Unity Day are:
• To unite the community by providing an opportunity to highlight the positive aspects of living, working and studying in Hyde Park
• To demonstrate the community’s strength through voluntary involvement
• To celebrate cultural diversity through art, music, performance and sport
• To create a focus point for community activities
• To unite and provide opportunities to celebrate the skills, talent and character of local people
• To be a vehicle for positive change and improvement in the area
• To utilise local employers, businesses and services where possible
• To encourage all people to participate, regardless of age, gender, ability
• To instigate and support community events throughout the year
• By working together, learn new skills from each other enabling building of confidence.
Hyde Park Unity Day has already achieved some of its original aims as it can be said the Unity Day now holds an excellent reputation within Leeds and beyond; however each year we aim higher to involve more people and host innovative activities
What is Hyde Park like at this time? What is the demographic?
LS6 has the highest transient population and the highest demographic of 18 – 25 year olds in the north of England. Some long term residents feel like they are now an after thought in regards to services and planning in the area.
What sort of events have you done over the years? And what work do you do currently?
All our fundraising is two fold – to raise cash for match funding and bringing people together through car boot sales, jumble sales, bucket runs, sponsored back waxes, cake sales, art shows, art workshops in local schools and music gigs.
How is sound system culture and music bound up with the Unity Day? Where do the Iration Steppas come in? Who organised the event at HiFi?
Soundsystems reach beyond the generalist pigeon holes such as age, culture and race. Music has brought people together since before history was recorded, providing a stimulus for social interaction on many levels. We provide a platform for artists to perform in their own community. Mark Iration was involved in the first year supporting our mission to promote cohesion in the community and has unity day in his heart.
How has Leeds served you musically? What sort of events, DJs or bands do the original founders of Unity Day enjoy?
Leeds has had a high quality diverse music scene for as long as we can remember. All the Unity Day crew enjoy a range of gigs, bands and events but we all agree that some of the best parties have happened in a back to back house with a cellar and a sound system!
How can the public get involved in the day?
We are always on the look out for new volunteers and fresh ideas. If you have an idea come along to the public meetings and get involved. We hold bi-weekly public meeting in the months running up to the big day. The next ones are 15th and 29th June find us at the Wrangthorn Church Hall or www.unityday.org.uk