Nearly twenty years ago, work began on the Yemeni Community Centre in the heart of old Butetown.
But almost two decades on, the director of the facility, which serves hundreds of people from around Cardiff every month, is reluctant to stop and celebrate.
Many of those helped by the centre have taken it upon themselves to dedicate the next few months to putting on events – including a dinner and a dance at the beginning of March – to celebrate the landmark anniversary. But Samira Shaddad, who has run the centre for the last two years, does not have the time to do so.
“We’re actually open now seven days a week,” she said. “We have so many attending, not only Muslims but also the wider community.”
The centre – part of the South Wales Islamic Centre, whose mosque attracts between 500 and 600 every week for Friday prayers – lies in the shadow of Butetown’s Loudoun Square high-rise housing tower blocks.
“Everybody knows Butetown is the most deprived area in the whole of Wales,” said Mrs Shaddad, 42. It is also one of the most multi-cultural, with its former role as dockland attracting pockets of various nationalities, particularly Greek, Cypriot, Bangladeshi, Yemeni and Somali.
In the 1950s Cardiff was the world’s busiest coal-exporting port, but over time Butetown’s diversity has posed challenges, and the community now experiences more tension than in its booming heyday.
Despite its name, the centre aims to benefit the whole community rather than just Yemenis.
“Our aim and goals at the Yemeni Community Centre are not to think that the Yemenis have to stick to the Yemenis, the Somalis have to stick to Somalis,” she said.
“We want the community centre to operate as a community centre which means community, and it doesn’t mean one group here and one group there. We integrate. We integrate the Yemenis into the community.”
Samira estimates in 2012 alone around 2,000 people have benefited from various workshops and activities put on at the centre. These events include regular meetings of the over-50s, which began earlier this year.
“It has not only given them information and advice, it’s also alleviated the loneliness that over-50s can have once they leave work and their children have grown up and moved on,” Samira explains.
“I think by having that once a week it gives them the opportunity to sit down and have a chat, have a little bit of information – it does a world of wonders for them because they’re gaining information plus they’re alleviating their loneliness.”
Mrs Shaddad also feels passionately about giving opportunities to Cardiff’s young people. She describes the city’s poorer areas as being trapped in a catch-22, with a relative lack of wealth making it difficult for youngsters to fulfill their potential – keeping another generation in deprivation.
“What the community needs is a better education system, a system put in place where they can access opportunities, gain information, gain advice on how they can enhance their educational attainment,” she said.
“There’s no homework club in place in the area for the young people whose parents can’t afford to pay for private tuition.
“My role is to ensure that the youth are gaining the information and advice that is needed. I ensure that the women are accessing a variety of education opportunities where they can then enter the work environment.
“This year we’ve actually enrolled 42 young girls on to college where they can now access training.”
It is people like these who will organise the anniversary of the Yemeni Community Centre.
But Samira Shaddad barely has time to pause to celebrate the success of the last twenty years.