It’s been an increasingly sore point with me, as secretary of the Barton & Tredworth Neighbourhood Partnership, that while we get a measly £2,000 per year in funding while other local organisations get hundreds of thousands from the councils and other fund sources.

Gymnasian UK is one such organisation, a charity and an umbrella for the Friendship Café on Barton Street and Gymnation at Cityworks, Alfred Street. It gets funding from Gloucester City Council, Gloucestershire County Council, the Youth Capital Fund, the Summerfield Trust and so on. All this money is being poured into an enterprise which was created primarily (‘but not exclusively’) for the benefit of young Muslims.

Now, don’t get me wrong (as people frequently do). I’ve always taken the view that any section of the community should be free to break off as much of the funding cookie as it can, and if some sections are better at doing so, that’s just the way the cookie crumbles. But it’s the charity framework page for Gymnasian that causes me to raise an eyebrow.

‘Charitable objects: TO PROVIDE LEISURE AND RECREATIONAL FACILITIES TO PERSONS IN THE GLOUCESTER AREA AND IN PARTICULAR BUT NOT EXCLUSIVELY TO SUNNI MUSLIMS AGED 15 AND OVER IN THE INTEREST OF SOCIAL WELFARE WITH THE AIM OF IMPROVING THE CONDITIONS OF LIFE OF SUCH PEOPLE.’

My brow heads heavenwards because it seems odd, perverse even, to accept the presence of non-muslims but then make a distinction between Sunnis and Shias? In the charity’s actual framework?

I guess that’s religion, though…

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