Games unite across Leeds divides

Safya Khan-Ruf - 18 05 17

Locals from across different communities and cultures in Leeds are organising a series of game-playing events to celebrate their common values.

The games and food days are being organised by members of the local HOPE not hate group to improve community relations and highlight what those in Leeds have most in common

“Because of the divisions which have occurred following the Brexit vote and those that are anticipated after the triggering of Article 50, we want to encourage local communities to come together,” said Helen Ketcher, a volunteer organiser for HOPE not hate.

The ‘Games Exchange’ days, several of which have already taken place, involve adults and children from different communities competing at mah-jong, pool, chess, draughts, card games and table tennis as well as large-scale floor games such as a giant Connect Four.

Giant Connect four and Jenga, Courtesy of Hilary Perkins, Flickr
All welcome

Dermot Daly, an organiser for HOPE not hate Leeds, said during one event they had had “asylum seekers, economic migrants and second generation immigrants on the day… and the lovely thing is, none of that matters when you’re trying to win a game of chess!”

He added that the Polish game of Super Farmer was a particular success at the last event, which attracted around 30 people supported by five volunteer organisers.

The initiative was launched in February at the Compton Centre in Leeds and the organisers aim to make it a regular event. The next Game Exchange will be held in the summer, after the Great Get Together weekend on 17 and 18 June (which will also celebrate the strength of local communities and common identity via thousands of community events).

Courtesy of Allan Rostron/Flickr

“Games are played by many people all over the world, all over the country and all over our diverse and embracing city. Playing together simply highlights the many things that we have in common and strives to build bridges where there may be walls,” concluded Daly.

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