Note: Originally written for the Ilford Recorder.
Growing up in Ilford is by no means plain sailing.
Booze, drugs, and gangs – there’s plenty to get you off the straight and narrow from an early age.
But don’t let that fill you with despair folks, because for every crooked criminal on our streets there are dozens of ambitious youngsters trying to get ahead.
One such person is 23-year-old Anees Ikramullah, who recently started his own business, Centre Sport Events, a sports events company based in Goodmayes.
When he’s not organising football tournaments he works for Interactive, a charity who promote disability equality in sport.
Anees graduated from the University of Essex in 2011, after which he worked a year at Wembley Stadium as a tour guide operator.
He says the experience gave him a lot of confidence.
In 2013, after a year of hard work and a meagre income, he successfully attained a Masters degree in Sports Management from London Met University.
“I’ve always been involved with football since a young age,” said Anees. “I learnt a lot from setting up tournaments for London ASPA, but felt there was a need for a tournament with a social ethos as well as competitive play.”
Anees’ first event took place last month at Dagenham Goals.
A total of 12 teams took part with a cash prize of £100. But he’s not wasting time revelling in his success, and has another tournament planned for June 1.
“Some say I take too much on, but there’s nothing I enjoy more than providing a platform of opportunity and enjoyment for others through Football.”
Up the road in Seven Kings, 20-year-old Uzman Kkurshiv runs the Coffee Hut, a café that has gained quite a following since it opened in January last year.
The young entrepreneur has settled into life as the manager of a busy restaurant, taking orders, managing the books and everything else that comes with the job.
“I originally wanted to get into property management,” he said, “but then me and my dad opened the Coffee Hut.”
While his dad may have funded him, Uzman is no stranger to the rigours of enterprise.
“My dad just supervised us – me and my brother. Ahmer would deal with staff and I sorted out the orders.”
That all changed however, when his older brother, Ahmer Kkurshiv, 25, got married and moved onto to another job. Uzman said he struggled on his own at first, but he persevered nonetheless.
“From when he left it’s been up and down, but my dad has been behind me the whole way.”
Despite building up the business himself, Usman doesn’t plan on staying at the Coffee Hut for too long,
“On the whole it’s been a great experience, but what I want to do now is use what I have learned to take on other challenges.”
Further afield, Daniel Berwick, a personal fitness trainer and bodybuilder, started his own urban gym in February.
Skadoosh Fitness, located off London Road in Romford, is a studio gym which offers personal training with an urban twist.
Daniel uses various techniques that try to bring a fresh approach to fitness, using battle ropes, kettle bells, and rubber tires to put the fun back into fitness.
“I want to take away the boring aspects of working out and turn them into challenging and rewarding sessions,” he said.
Originally hailing from Chadwell Heath, the 23-year-old first got into bodybuilding after leaving school at just 16.
After trying his hand at various jobs, and even training to be a plumber, Daniel decided to pursue his dreams in 2009, and started out as a personal trainer at Ilford’s Fitness First.
He excelled quickly however, moving on to Virgin Active after a year where he was also given the title of service manager.
But Daniel says that starting his own business was always his ambition.
“It’s something I always wanted to do,” he said.
“Start small, dream big.”
Note: Originally written for the Ilford Recorder.
A charity will be screening a “powerful” and “compelling” documentary next week as part of its “Safer Space Project” – an initiative to increase awareness about human trafficking.
Redbridge & Havering Street Pastors will hold a showing of American film “Nefarious: Merchant of Souls“, next Saturday at Kings Church, Granville Rd, Ilford, as part of its “Safer Space Project” launched last year.
“This is one of the most powerful, compelling and transformational documentaries ever made on Human Trafficking,” said Monica Abdala, Coordinator of Redbridge & Havering Street Pastors.
“In the last month alone we have known of eight cases of human trafficking in our Borough. This is alarming and shocking,” she added.
It is hoped the film will help equip people to identify the signs of human trafficking and respond to what has become known as “21st Century Slavery”.
The documentary, directed by Matthew Dickey and Benjamin Nolot, has won dozens of awards internationally, including Best Feature Documentary at the 2011 California Film Awards.
Since the films initial release it has been translated into 21 different languages and has completed several global tours.
Speaking to the Christian Broadcasting Network last year, director Benjamin said that the purpose of the film is “to draw people’s attention to the issue, but also to inspire them in terms of what they can be doing … to take a stand against this injustice.”
Cllr Balvinder Kaur, Chair of the Sikh’s Woman Alliance, said that the issue of trafficked sex workers is something that is often overlooked in the community.
“It is very important that we start talking and open up about this issue. Many of these girls do not speak English and are afraid to speak out.
“It is a positive sign that this film has been made and it is something that should be supported.”
Doors at the Kings Church will open at 7pm. Entry is free but a ticket is required.
For more information or to book your free ticket, call 02085545850, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
So today I got some great news
Journalism Diversity Fund training bursaries awarded
Nine aspiring journalists have been awarded bursaries by the Journalism Diversity Fund to complete NCTJ-accredited training courses.
Colin Cowan; Samson Dada; Ese Erheriene; Christopher Gage; Joshua Hammond; Ana Hine; Neil Kingston; Rebecca Koncienzcy and Suhail Patel were successful in securing bursaries to help them complete their journalism training.
Trials, tribulations, and a shitload of cake
So yup. if you hadn’t guessed it already, I’ve been trying to become a journalist for quite some time now, and let me tell ya’, it ain’t been easy friends. You can read about my life as a wannabe in a previous blog post. But if you can’t be bothered looking up the specifics, just know this – there have been plenty of obstacles on the journey so far, and needless to say, I’m sure there are many more to come.
But despite all the cockups, regardless of all the times I fucked up, to put it bluntly, today I have taken a monumental step in the right direction. Today I found out that I’ve been given the funding I need to pursue my dream.
The lovely guys n’ gals down at the Journalism Diversity Fund (JDF) have been kind enough (and crazy enough) to give me the money I need to finance a trip back to college. There I plan to get my NCTJ accredited qualification in Multimedia Journalism. To get into journalism these days you tend to need this kind of qualification, or similarly a masters in Journalism. I’ll now be able enroll at Lambeth College, and intend to start in the coming days. I will be embarking on a year long journey into the wonders of writing, shorthand and media law. How very exciting…
About the Diversity Fund
The JDF are a charity that aims to bring diversity to the news. Established in 2005, so far they’ve helped a huge number of people like myself realise their ambitions. The fund is financed predominantly by working journalists and various news outlets – professionals who want to create a more representative news room.
While there are some conditions you must meet before you can apply, the fund is open to anyone like me, who would otherwise be unable to finance the cost of attaining the qualification.
If you’d be interested in donating, take a look at their current sponsors and supporters, and if you’re already a professional journalist, you can even help by volunteering for the charity.
My sincerest thanks
So a big thank you is in order, to all those persons who have assisted in one way or another so far. From the wonderful Deborah Hall, who so kindly gave me advice when I first started this journey, and her friend Jan Jacqueline, who also helped me when I needed it most. The people at Just Change UK and Giving What We Can, who let me volunteer for them, and the awesome bunch in Hackney running WorldBytes – Ceri and Andi, I thank you.
Amanda Nunn, Lizzie Dearden, Zjan Shirinian, along the rest of the team at the Ilford Recorder, I couldn’t have got here without your patience and guidance. To the wonderful digital team at Medicins Sans Frontieres – Ben Holt, Clare Storry, Nick Owen and Lee Butler – you guys are awesome, and I hope I haven’t let you down by having to leave so soon (well, partially at least). And of course my friends, family, and all those who have supported me so far, especially those of you who wrote for MyOpenLetter.info, I am indebted to you all. I shall never forget your kindness, patience and generosity during this very difficult year. (so basically, sorry for being so broke all the time).
So I guess, what I’m getting at is…
Last but not least, I want to thank the team at the JDF who gave me this chance – Dave, Shevon, Alice and Lisa; I am truly grateful for this opportunity and I feel sincerely privileged to be representing the charity. I one day hope to continue the good work you guys have done to date.
So thanks for reading all, and stay tuned for my next big story…onwards and upwards!
So those few of you who regularly follow my blog posts might of noticed a lack of activity these last few days. That’s because I’ve been hard at work on the MyOpenLetter project.
Recently I launched the archive section, and while it’s rather lacking with only two entries atm, I’m optimistic it’ll be filled up in no time with interesting posts. For now though, check out my letter or Anonymous Girlfriends story of overcoming odds
I’ve also posted my letter below, so please read and tell me your thoughts. Also I hope this inspires you to get thinking about what you might right about. You can email submissions to email@example.com. Hope to read your letter soon!
I look in the mirror, and I see a face. It is a face I could describe to you in quite exquisite detail. From its dark brown eyes and faintly tanned skin, to its slightly crooked nose, its cherub cheeks and accompanying mischievous smile. This face has one very prominent dimple only on the right side, and has thick red lips surrounded by a dishevelled beard. Indeed, this is a face I have grown quite accustomed to. But whilst I could continue to go on describing this face in great intricacy and detail, I couldn’t tell you if it would be considered a beautiful one or not. I could not tell you what others thought about my face, for I am quite certain, some may dislike its roundness and plumpness, whilst some may feel otherwise. But I like this face, because this face mine, and this face is mine alone.
So I have no problems in admitting that sometimes I find myself wondering what other people think about me. I’m sure you have probably felt like this at one time or another dear reader. Who you are I am not sure, and perhaps my message has reached you after a thousand years, hidden like a Dead Sea scroll through a vast expanse of time. Dear reader whom is unbeknownst to me, I ask you this question, irrespective of whom you are when you are living, are these really important things to think about? For they are, when we look upon them objectively, only differences of mere millimetres. These are but slight disparities in the angles of bone and variations in skin tone. These are nothing but cosmetic, superficial vanities that seem to be so important to so many of us in this world today, myself included.
I put it to you dear reader that we as human beings ought to value something more substantial. For us to understand what I mean by this, you must understand what it means to be a human being first.
Throughout the eons, ever since the first tentative words were spoken by man, the very first inkling of thought expressed by our distant ancestors, we have always struggled to find absolute truth in this rather puzzling world. And ever since we became aware of our own mortality, many subsequent philosophical questions have been raised about our existence. Why are we here? How did we come to be? What is our inevitable fate? How should we treat one other? All profound questions that to date we have still not managed to answer with any degree of certainty.
But despite any criticisms I have of human beings, I am a firm believer in the capacity of us to be quite marvellous creatures. From the incredible lasting legacies of the great thinkers past, I cannot deny that we have come a remarkably long way since those inklings of consciousness were first exhibited by human beings. From those hesitant scrapings upon once bare lifeless stone, the seeds of destiny were firmly sown, and a great tree of knowledge has flourished in its wake. The full force of causality took hold, and here we find ourselves today in this moment of time, wondering what lies in wait for humanity in the centuries to come.
Once many moons ago, before I had eyes to see and a mind to think, I was a collection of particles wandering aimlessly through a vast expanse of emptiness. This potent soup of subatomic particles slowly took shape, and through the heavy hand of microscopic forces, you and I ware formed in the furnaces of time and space. We owe our existence to an incessant churning of masses, started by a miraculous mix spontaneity and improbability. And here we are now, living on the frontier humanity, forging a path that has not yet been walked by any living being before us. Yes, we have come a remarkably long way indeed, despite having still a great distance to travel. We have learnt some incredible things already about the nature of the universe and our place within it. Objectively speaking, this is quite an astonishing achievement for a mere primate, first emerging from the dishevelled canopies of prehistory countless millennia ago. The ascent of man has been a arduous and improbable journey.
One of the profoundest things we have come to learn in recent decades, something that has never been known before, is that the reality in which we reside is governed by chaos. Even in this new age of empiricism, there is no such thing as certainty. Life is fickle for the very laws that form the basis of nature, the cosmos, and everything in between are firmly rooted in anarchy. How do we find order in a naturally disordered universe?
Human rights were first formally brought into law internationally only in 1948. While at first this may seem a like an irrelevant detail, it is in actuality quite an incredible milestone in human history. We creatures who live in this world of uncertainty, have begun to formulate certain universal laws of our own, particular moral beliefs that apply to all human beings. And whilst 1948 may seem a long time ago, half a century is but a mere grain of sand in a great desert of time. Yes, we have come a remarkably long way it seems, but it is my belief that we now rest at a pivotal point in the story of humanity and the cosmos itself. A prestigious and self appointed promotion, if you will, to the narrator of its tale, the story of its existence and inevitable demise. With the gift of consciousness, comes the burden of being the bearer of your own destiny. The future is in our own hands.
With this realisation, my message to you is simply this – think. I know it is probably unwise of me to worry about how my face looks to others, because at the end of the day, it is just a face. But I also know that I should take an interest in Human Rights, because we need to bring order to the natural chaos of nature. In the long run, the latter benefits us all and also our descendants. The shape of my face however, brings very little long lasting joy and happiness to collective society. I had to think to realise that. We all have this rather wonderful set of abilities unique to human beings. We can look forward in time and plan ahead. We can ponder upon life and our place within the cosmos. But most importantly, we can also empathise with other human beings, and feel pain through their suffering. We can feel joy through the happiness of others.These are the qualities that I maintain, have gotten us here today, and are important to the future of humanity.
So I claimed that we are the bearers of our own destiny, and so my final question to you is this – what do we want for the destiny of humanity? It is a question I cannot answer alone, simply because, I am just one human being. I do not speak for the whole of humanity, but I am entitled to my say as everyone else is. So think with me, friends one and all, regardless of your race, irrespective of the colour of your skin or the nature of your beliefs, let’s think and try to answer all these profound questions together. Let’s try to understand the universe and our place within it, and let’s try to make this world just a little bit better for when that inevitable time comes for us to leave it.
Peace and Love,
Suhail H. Patel
Announcement: I’ve almost hit 1000 unique visitors guys, woohoo! To celebrate, I’m launching a new feature called The Short Report! The idea is I give you a quick breakdown on what’s happening on a particular issue, linking to articles as I go. This way you can read a short summary if you’re pressed for time, or read further in depth analysis and commentary by following the links provided. I’m going to try and keep them around 300-600 words. Please let me know any suggestions/criticisms.
Just a quick update for you all on the Snowden and mass surveillance scandal – a couple of weeks ago I wrote about the Five Eyes, a network of major western powers who work in tandem to spy on peoples private communications. Some of these countries are now “complaining” about the NSA’s programs. Edward Snowden has revealed further details about Australia’s links to secret US Spying program, identifying a number of operations such as one dubbed “ThinThread”.
Mr Snowden also said that the “Five Eyes” partnership is organised so that authorities in each country can “insulate their political leaders from the backlash” when it became public “how grievously they’re violating global privacy”.
Rather unsurprisingly, Cuba’s Raul Castro has criticized the U.S and backs allies on Snowden’s bid for asylum, accusing the United States of employing a “philosophy of domination.
These actions demonstrate we live in a world in which the powerful feel they can violate international law, violate the national sovereignty of other states and trample on the rights of citizens.
The U.S. responded to these Latin American countries with hostility, suggesting they will use trade sanctions to “to send a very clear message that we won’t put up with this kind of behaviour.”
The US claims that these countries have undermined “the importance of trust.”
Snowden has also revealed how the GCHQ in Britain Soaks up mass Internet data. The Tempora system is the signal intelligence community’s first “full-take Internet buffer,” according to the whistle blower.
It snarfs everything, in a rolling buffer to allow retroactive investigation without missing a single bit…if it routes through the UK, we get it.
He also accused Germany’s federal intelligence agency, the BND of working with the NSA to collect signals intelligence.
Further leaks from Snowden have revealed Brazil has been victim of cyber espionage by the NSA. Brazil has asked US to explain this internet surveillance, saying they received the reports from Snowden “with deep concern.
Brazil appears on the charts of the American agency (National Security Agency, or NSA) as a prime target for the espionage of phone calls and other data, alongside nations like China, Russia, Iran and Pakistan.
If that has happened, these companies broke Brazilian law and acted against our Constitution, which safeguards the right to privacy.
It seems that US attempts to block Edward Snowden are ‘bolstering’ case for asylum, and in fact giving the whistle blower stronger allies. Evo Morales stated that the forced plane-grounding debacle will never be forgotten in South America.
The issue however, is one of a lack of safety for Snowden if sent back to the US. For instance, a lack of transparency means tainted justice for Bradley Manning, and many fear a similar fate for Snowden if he is extradited. Daniel Ellsberg, who was charged under the espionage act in 1971, suggested Snowden was right to run, for:
He would almost certainly be confined in total isolation, even longer than the more than eight months Manning suffered during his three years of imprisonment before his trial began.
One lesson of the Pentagon Papers and Snowden’s leaks is simple: secrecy corrupts, just as power corrupts.
After two years of preparation the US-EU free trade talks are beginning amid this spying row. However, more leaked information is showing that the key European players in these discussions are just as guilty as the US when it comes to unlawful surveillance.
In the meantime, things are still getting worse in the US. In Secret, a court vastly broadened the powers of the N.S.A. — judges have expanded the use in terrorism cases of a legal principle known as the “special needs” doctrine, and carved out an exception to the Fourth Amendment’s requirement of a warrant for searches and seizures, officials have said.
So I have an idea…I want to send a letter…a letter to humanity.
One evening many moons ago, I was casually patrolling the internet when I happened to chance upon a particular article that caught my eye. The story was about a time capsule opened after a 100 years. I have always been fascinated with time capsules. Little morsels of history flung far into the future, with the intention of revealing present life to future little earthlings.
Jean-Marc Phillipe was also rather taken by the idea. He was the creator and leader of the KEO project until he passed away in 2008. A group of scientists acquired a soon to be defunct Satellite, and now plan to hurl it far into the earth’s atmosphere for 50,000 years, harbouring messages from people of today for our distant decedents.
But as I wrote my entry, I thought by and large the message I had for future humanity, was very much applicable to people today.
So why wait? Why not send a message to humanity right now?
And that is exactly what I intend to do, and hope to provide a platform from which others might also leave their message to humanity. What’s great about this compared to the KEO project, is that anyone can read your open letter, and take some value from it, whether that be the day it’s posted, or many years after your demise. And with the prevalence of blogging I thought it would be a fun little experiment, to see what people had to say to the human race.
Now with a little technical wizardry and whole lot of trial and error, I’ve set up a blog from which to do just that. You might of also noticed the link I put up on the menu bar of my personal new blog.
Send a message to humanity, for the people of today, tomorrow and far into the future.
I invite you to write a (roughly) 800 word piece as your one message to the world. You can write about whatever you want, you can say whatever you feel. You could just write about yourself, an interesting story that you feel has moral value, or a humanitarian topic that interests you, and you think others ought to know about. You might just want to make people smile, and you are welcome to do so. The idea is that this is your chance to leave your one message. So feel free to make it as dramatic, as poignant and as heartfelt as possible.
Saying that however, there are some rules to what you can post. Although I despise rules, I think this blog should be about spreading what’s best about humanity, and how we can progress as a collective society. I’m a humanist, and I believe that everyone is capable of profound insight. So there will be no room for bigotry or defamation. This is not a platform for spreading hatred or ignorance. It’s not a place to share your religious convictions. There are plenty of places you can do that on the internet, but this won’t be one of them.
I am also asking people to donate £1 or more when they send a letter. To get the ball rolling however, I’m going to waive the fee and pay if myself for everyone who decides to send me a story. I’m unemployed at the moment however, but I suspect it’ll take a while for this to catch on. When I do start taking donations, all the proceeds will go to charity decided via GiveWell (100% of it).
So give me your thoughts on life and humanity, and share them with the world. If you feel uncomfortable you are free to submit anonymously. It doesn’t matter how old you are, how educated you are, nor how eloquent you are. I will also help with editing submitted letters, and hope this will give me a chance to hone my editing/proofreading skills.
It is my belief that everyone is this world has something to teach you. I hope through this platform we can begin to collate the best lessons we’ve all learned in our own little lives. I hope to bring significance to every life lived. I hope to inspire others to bring out the best in themselves and in others.
So without any further introduction, welcome to my new project, My Letter to Humanity!
note: The website is still under construction, so don’t try and submit a letter through the forms provided, as I haven’t got them working just yet. Hence I would prefer it if you could email me with your entry at firstname.lastname@example.org. I hope to read your messages soon! = ) !!
So I’ve promised my friend Almaz to make her a blog, but I’ve never really used WordPress before.
Hence I’ve done a little trial run by making one for myself.
There are still a few bugs lurking around, if you come across one, let me know please.
I used WordPress and some WooThemes thing I found on the internet.
It’s actually really easy to use, a whole heaps easier than making a website from scratch.
If you’d like me to make you a blog like this, ask and you may perhaps receive 😉
Many thanks for checking out the new blog guys!
Till next time friends!!
Peace and Love x