Guardian: Questions Over Football Charity in Manchester

Initiative welcomed by Ed Miliband and Coronation Street star but time goes by without definite news. Guest blogger Arwa Aburawa asks why.

Manchester’s young footballers are due to visit Bangladesh to highlight climate change. But when?

Questions are being asked about the long delay by two Manchester city councillors in registering a charity with the object of sending a local football club to Bangladesh to highlight the dangers of climate change.

Labour’s Luthfur Rahman (Longsight ward) and Rosa Battle (Bradford ward), set up ‘Response Worldwide’ in February 2010 as part of their work to raise money for the visit by Manchester Athletic FC. This was originally scheduled for October 2010 but has yet to happen and the charity remains unregistered.

Coun Rahman says that around 70 percent of the funding needed is still to be raised, but despite several requests, no details have yet been provided of how much money has come from fund-raising events so far or how the funds are being held. These have been high profile: in July last year, the two councillors hosted a do at a Manchester restaurant attended by the city’s Lord Mayor as well as Coronation Street actor Shobna Gulati.

On the flyer of a fundraising event, a designed logo for ‘Response Worldwide’ is present without a charity registration number, indicating lack of proper registration, a process which normally takes around 40 days, according to the Charity Commission. Asked about the new charity’s status, Coun Rahman said that registration had not yet taken place because he had been too busy.

Interest in the project is considerable, as other highlights have included a mention by Labour leader Ed Milliband, who welcomed the councillors work during a visit to Manchester in February last year when he was Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change. Corrie actor Gulati also said that she would be willing to make the trip to Bangladeshwith the football team if her schedule allowed.

Response Worldwide was also affiliated with another fundraising event in August 2010, this time for the floods that hit Pakistan in 2010 in conjunction with Islamic Relief and Inspired Sisters, a community centre based in Longsight. And earlier this year, Rahman was named ‘Community Champion of the Year’ at the Councillor Achievement Awards organised by the Local Government Information Unit in recognition of his “strategic community cohesion work” and the “speed with which he has made a difference.”

Rahman says that the trip is still on the cards and will take place either at the end of this year or early January 2012. Rosa Battle was unavailable for comment as she is on maternity leave, she did however state that it would be best to speak to Coun Rahman as he is currently leading the project.

Arwa Aburawa is a freelance journalist working in Manchester and writing mainly on social issues and the environment.

Originally published at the Guardian : Image via IRRI/flickr.

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