There’s nothing like a good cliff hanger!

Last night’s post inadvertently left a cliff hanger (now re-edited to make a lot more sense). The truth is that I, as I often do, start writing whatever is in my head, and somehow the blog forms, and I edit it before posting. I didn’t spot the original paragraph at the end of my rant last night, so I’ve had feedback today, (already!) asking who I was on the phone to, and what we were talking about…

Well, it’s good to know that people are reading this, and thank you for the feedback, so here’s the story from last night, continued…

And in many ways, to be writing this the morning after the night before, is cathartic, healing, hopeful and much brighter.

So today is Holocaust Memorial Day. Did you notice? Apart from The Jewish Chronicle landing on my doorstep, and the fact that I care about this stuff, I wouldn’t have…

But back to last night’s phone call… and for a bit of context, rewind about two years and ten months ago…

Soon after I embarked on this journey of creating ToastLoveCoffee, I met with a good friend, mentor, inspiration and wise lady, called Jill (she’s gonna hate me for that, but it’s all true, and then some!) When I told her about the idea, and that it had to be in Harehills because that was where my family story is rooted, as Jewish immigrants in the early twentieth century, and that is where Anita lived now, she said (amongst many wise things in that conversation), ‘You’ve got to meet Ash’.

So I met Ash.

Ash is a local policeman, and can tell his story far better than I can (although his modesty may get in the way), but, briefly, he had a vision for improving Harehills, specifically around young people, and set up CATCH, a youth provision initially around football, and their first portacabin on a little bit of unused primary school land became our first pop up.

Ever since, TLC and CATCH have been slowly and steadily growing together, to the point where now we share the fabulous ARK building (our permanent home), and our work interlaces in many many ways.

One of the most inspiring moments for me a couple of years ago was when a local south Asian mum told me that, if it wasn’t for the work of CATCH, her teenage son would be either dead or in prison. Now he has a hope for the future, aspirations for college and a career. This is not an isolated incident; just this week another local teenager popped in to the Ark, when I asked why he wasn’t at college, he replied that he has exams coming up so is on study leave. Home is too distracting, so he asked Ash if he could revise at the Ark. That is the kind work that he is doing with his team. Inspiring young people who really need that positive role model in this crucial time of their lives

So back to last night. Ash and I were both at our respective homes last night, working on the ‘back office’ stuff associated with our organisations, and ended up chatting on the phone, tying up the ends of unfinished conversations throughout the week, and sharing our dreams, hopes and fears for The Ark and all the people we have got to know through our work together.

There is a strong relationship there between us now. It’s not an interfaith project, but it is a Muslim guy and a Jewish girl working together (of course alongside many other wonderful people) to make the world a better place.  We disagreed on that one. His modesty wouldn’t allow him to see that what we have created is having far reaching repercussions in all sorts of places (The Department for Communities and Local Government called him this week!), his modesty won’t even allow him to take the time off to go to London to collect his MBE that he was awarded last year. But, Ash, you are, we are, making the world a better place. Have no doubts.



published by Anna Dyson
Founder and Director of ToastLoveCoffee. CEO of Dyson family, Roundhay (Leeds) branch which involves a huge array of skills impossible to imagine or articulate! Formerly, Jewish educator and community professional.


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