Category Archives: Reporting

Redbridge: Exhibition shines light on fight for gay rights

An edited version of this piece was published in the Ilford Recorder (clipping below)

An oral history project detailing the road to equal rights for same sex couples living and working in Redbridge was launched on Monday.

Clipping of published piece in Ilford Recorder

As part of LGBT History Month, Ilford’s Eastside Community Heritage and Redbridge Rainbow Community teamed up to create a multimedia project outlining the progress of equal rights in Redbridge.

At the launch in Gants Hill Library, Cranbrook Road, a short film was shown before a discussion with audience and drinks.

Director of the film Alexia Dickenson, Bethenal Green, said: “This film is about bringing the LGBT community to the forefront and building their presence in Redbridge.

“It is a collection of different personal journeys and significant historical events for the LGBT community.”

The project, funded by a heritage lottery grant, will be added to the East London People’s Archive, which is managed and maintained by Eastside Community Heritage.

Judith Garfield, Executive Director of Eastside Community Heritage, said: “What really surprised me is that we haven’t moved on enough.

“People are still concerned and that came through in the interviews.”

The film included Matthew Walters, a gay men’s worker and committee member for Redbridge Rainbow Community, a charity which serves the LGBT community within the borough.

He tells a story of when he was attacked and robbed by three men, in the toilet of a train while on his way to Glasgow.

“They started hitting me and calling me gay,” he said.

“I felt quite unsafe for a while afterwards travelling home on the train at night.”

The police were able to find the finger prints of one of the attackers, who was later convicted of robbery and homophobic abuse.

“What a lot of older gay men went through is quite atrocious,” he added.

Magaret, another interviewee, is a transgender woman living in Redbridge.

She was married for several decades before her wife’s passing, after which she transitioned to being a woman using hormone therapy.

“I just reverted to being myself,” she said.

“I want to see more people coming out and living ordinary lives.”

Last April, statistics from the Metropolitan Police Service showed homophobic crime had fallen across London by 12.7%, from March 2012 to March last year.

However, Redbridge recorded a rise of 200%, with a total of 22 crimes being identified as homophobically aggravated – such as blackmail, assault, harassment and criminal damage – up from 17 in 2012 and 11 in 2011.

Many cases of homophobic crimes still go unreported.

Police have been urging victims to come forward in the knowledge that all incidents would be fully investigated.

Cllr Wes Streeting, Deputy Leader of the Redbridge Labour, is a vocal LGBT activist and former Head of Education at Stonewall, the largest gay equality organization in Europe.

He said: “It’s good that we have framework that allows for equal opportunity, but there is still a battle going on over hearts and minds.

“One of the things that does concern me is a lack of visibility,” he added, “this is a very religious borough and that does sometimes cause tension.”

The archive currently holds more than 1800 oral history interviews and over 24,000 photographs documenting the lives and experiences of London’s diverse communities.

Event organisers hope that ‘Being Civil in Redbridge’ will become an important tool in the fight for equal rights for members of the LGBT community living in the borough and beyond.

The final showing for the event will take place Wednesday next week at South Woodford Library, High Road, South Woodford.

To book your place at this free event, call 020 8708 2337.

 

 

 

‘A more rigorous approach’ is needed to tackle anti-Muslim hate crime, says TELL MAMA

Originally published on The City Scoop

A batch of freedom of information requests revealed increasing levels of hate crimes against Muslims in the UK after the beheading of soldier Lee Rigby in Woolwich, south-east London.

Picture of the Blackburn prayer hall facility in #Muslim graveyard that was spray-painted.

Picture of the Blackburn prayer hall facility in Muslim graveyard that was spray-painted.

Broken down, the figures show that  from September 2012 to September 2013, there has been a 68% increase in anti-Muslim hate crime in Tower Hamlets, a 475% increase in the London Borough of Greenwich, a 50% increase in Hackney, and a 200% increase in Lambeth.

However, anti-Muslim hate crimes in London are reducing from its peak after the murder of soldier Lee Rigby’s murder in May.

TELL MAMA, an organisation that records anti-Muslim attacks, said that from March 2012 to March 2013, they dealt with 582 anti-Muslim cases, but expected that figure to rise by almost 50% this year.

After the brutal racist killing of Stephen Lawrence, the Mcpaherson recommenations outlined a system where people to report hate crimes to an independent organisation such as TELL MAMA, who would then pass that information to the police so that the incidents could be formally logged.

Fiyaz Mujhal, director of Faith Matters, which runs the MAMA project, said: “The far right groups, particularly the EDL use the internet and social media to promote vast amounts of online hate.

The group claims that “a more rigorous approach” is needed to documenting cases of hate crime then the ones currently in place.

However, according the Guardian, a CPS spokeswoman said that online material must be more than “simply offensive” to be breaking the law.

They said: “In order to preserve the right to free speech the threshold for prosecution must be high and only communications that are grossly offensive, indecent, obscene or false are prohibited by the legislation.

Earlier this year, a YouGov poll suggested that the number of those who believe clashes, such as the infamous Rigby event, are inevitable – up by a staggering 9% from last year.

There has also been a small increase in the proportion of people who believe British Muslims pose a serious threat to democracy, up to 34% on Thursday and Friday from 30% in November 2012.

Response to findings

Andrew Gillian, London editor of the Sunday Telegraph, said in June earlier this year, that most of the crimes reported by TELL MAMA did not constitute as violence again Muslims, as some of the incidents reported consisted of posts on facebook, twitter and various blogs.

According to /u/cantered, a poster on the internet forum Reddit, “If that’s a “hate crime” then half of /worldnews is about to be summoned before The Hague. And judging by some of the posts here the other half would be enthusiastically applauding.”

In the article Andrew states that 57 per cent of the incidents only took place online.

He said: “Tell Mama has no written definition of what it classes as an anti-Muslim incident, but has in the past adopted a wide definition.”

However, the interfaith organisation responded to the attacks by the Sunday Telegraph editor, posting a transcript of the whole conversation with the reporter along with a blog post clarifying issues raised in the article.

They said: “Keep the Focus the Victims, not TELL MAMA.

“Gilligan regards on-line hate incidents as being minor or peripheral in nature and he refers to them as such within the article. He does not describe the impact they have on people, the emotional disturbance that they may cause and the distress that they clearly cause to many victims.

“This material is pervasive in the on-line world and if we attempted to trawl through such postings, we would simply be inundated.”

When should hate speech be criminalised?

This incident brings to the forefront an important issue – the delicate balancing act between differrent rights.

Criminalising on-line communications can be a breach of our freedom of expression, as guaranteed by Article 10 of the European convention of human rights.

Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.

However, governments tend to recognize limits on this right, particularly when freedom of speech conflicts with other values or rights.

Limitations to freedom of speech can be applied to hate speech, as they can stoke racial tensions and incite violence, ultimately causing harm to individuals.

So the question remains, when does online hate speech become a criminal offence?

After the Woolwich incident, two men were arrested and held under the Public Order Act on suspicion of inciting racial or religious hatred, after ‘racist and anti-religious’ comments about death of Lee Rigby posted on Twitter.

Shaun Tuck, 26, was jailed for 12 weeks for encouraging people to ‘bomb and gas every mosque in England’ following the murder of Lee Rigby, as well as calling for Muslim children to be beheaded in a drunken Twitter rant.

What about the following tweets – should posting these be an indictable offence?

Muslim paedophile gangs dirty islamic scum, beheadings what next at least EDL stand up and be heard!!This is England

“#muslims..It works both ways you angry idiots. Get out of our countries and we might leave yours alone #milkers #edl”

“Not necessary2say ‘radical #Islam’ as this cult is by nature already radical! Needs2b outlawed! #Muslims #sharia #taqiyya #dhimmi #MSM #tcot”

“On the tv last night, most of the news had something to do with #muslims in some way…mostly bad of course! #islamisevil #terroristscum”

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Have your say in the comments section below.

Thousands of students and lecturers take part in protest against police ‘crackdown’

Originally published on The City Scoop

By Suhail Patel and Conor Giles, with pictures courtesy of Jon Cartwright and Charlotte England

Thousands marched through central London on Wednesday to protest against excessive force used by the police in last week’s demonstrations.

People gathered to express concerns over the 41 arrests made during an occupation of Senate House in protest over students’ union and cleaners’ contracts.

Students, lectures and alumni from universities across London, journeyed through the cities capital chanting slogans such as “No justice, no peace,” and “Cops off Campus” in defiance of police and university attempts to curb protestors.

Event organisers demanded that the NUS call a demonstration, asking trade unionists and the National Union of Students to join them.

Michael Chessum speaking at Russell Square

Michael Chessum speaking at Russell Square

Michael Chessum, ULU president, was arrested In November this year during similar protests against the planned closure of ULU.

Speaking to a large crowd of onlookers, he said: “This is one of the biggest student movements we have seen since 2010.

“We’re all here to simply say, we will not be intimidated,” he added.

Ian Pattison, a national organiser for Socialist Students, accused the police and university officials of trying to intimidate protestors, using violence and an injunction to try and silence them.

Ian Pattisson, national organiser of Socialist Students

Ian Pattisson, national organiser of Socialist Students

“We are fighting for peaceful protests and effective action.

“We think the National Union of Students should support these protests and call for a national demonstration,” he added.

Fellow national organiser Claire Laker-Mansfield said that despite the “absolutely horrendous brutality” used by police, that they “will not be cowed”.

Protestors marching towards SOAS

Protestors marching towards SOAS

A representative of the National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts said: “We are supporting this demonstration today because what we want is a democratic system that fights for people’s rights to a free education.

“A prerequisite of a good education is decent treatment of staff and students.

“We absolutely break with and step on the idea that university officials can call the police against protesting students.”

Many protestors were angry with the University of London’s (UoL) successful injunction preventing protests on its campuses for six-months.

Frustrated students cover their faces during demonstrations

Frustrated students cover their faces during demonstrations

Richard, a student from Oxford University, had come along with 35 fellow students to protest the extreme measures used.

He said: “I was disgusted by the way police have been cracking down on public exhibitions.

“People were just venting their discontent with this government’s principles.”

Approximately 25 students and lecturers ventured up from Sussex University where 5 students were recently suspended for their apparent leadership in the Occupy Sussex campaign, although these suspensions have since been revoked.

Protestors walking through central London

Protestors walking through central London

Charlotte England, a journalism student at SOAS, was one of the 41 people arrested at last week’s protests.

She said: “I think that the way they behaved has radicalised a lot of people.

“They used absolutely unreasonable and brute force against peaceful protestors.”

Another person detained, Tom, a member of the SOAS branch of Counterfire, had been arrested on Thursday for ‘Breaching the Peace’ and ‘Affray’.

He said they did not charge or interview him, and he was eventually released at 3am from Croydon Police station after being in police custody for nearly 10 hours.

When protestors reached SOAS, they sat down outside his universities entrance while some danced to beating drums and music.

People dancing and sitting outside SOAS

People dancing and sitting outside SOAS

Erik, a History and Arabic student at the university, said: “It was shocking to see the level of violence used by police.”

While Valarie, a psychology student living in London, said she felt that the UK has gone “too far to the right”.

“People can’t be afraid,” she added, “I don’t think people should keep their faces covered.

“This only makes us look more intimidating.”

Protestors sitting outside the university entrance

Protestors sitting outside the university entrance

There was a mixed reaction from onlookers, who either supported the marchers or tried to escape the 2000 strong group, blocking streets and halting traffic.

As they walked down Victoria St. workers from stores and offices peered out their windows to see what was going on.

Construction workers clothed in neon overalls and hardhats, showed their support by fist pumping and hollering, as the group chanted: “Students and workers unite and fight.”

One anonymous bystander, an owner of an outdoor fruit stand, said: “I think it’s good what the students are doing.

“People need to know what’s going on, it’s all corrupt.”

Group of protestors walk towards Parliment

Group of protestors walk towards Parliment

As the protestors moved towards The Houses of Parliament, police began to surround them. Many of them feared they would be kettled, and urged fellow marchers to keep moving.

Officers were heard telling people to relax and not to get caught up in the moment.

When asked if they would use force, an officer said they’re here to keep the peace, but “will use tactics” if anyone got violent.

Police outside the Houses of Parliament

Police outside the Houses of Parliament

There were however moments where tensions ran high as some of the protestors forced their way through the gates of Senate House.

A few attempted to break through the entrance doors, while others set alight to a bin.

 

People breaking the gates of Senate House.

People breaking the gates of Senate House.

 

A bin set alight by some of the protestors.

A bin set alight by some of the protestors.

A majority of those that entered the area quickly left however, as the crowd continued its procession through London.

Protestors leaving the Senate House Courtyard shortly after breaking through the gates

Protestors leaving the Senate House Courtyard shortly after breaking through the gates

In another incident, they surrounded a police car, leaving picket signs trapped in the windshield wipers.

A police van after having been surrounded by protestors

A police van after having been surrounded by protestors

As a group amassed outside the gates of Downing Street, roughly a dozen officers stood off against them briefly. The group soon moved on however, as fellow marchers shouted: “Keep moving…don’t let them kettle us.”

The sound of police sirens filled the air as day turned to night, but the protestors eventually completed their 6 mile march at around 6pm.

On the way they passed iconic symbols such as The Royal Courts of Justice, Houses of Parliament and Nelson Medulla’s statue, which was surrounded by flowers and tributes following his resent passing.

No arrests were made, and the protest was a peaceful one.

People outside The Royal Courts of Justice, London.

People outside The Royal Courts of Justice, London.

Daniel Cooper, one of the main protest organisers and Vice President of ULU, said: “We will not be intimidated and we will not be bullied.”

At an impromptu meeting another demonstration was called for on the 29th January in Birmingham.

East London educational charity launches documentary series on CLR James

An East London citizens TV channel and educational charity, kicked off their documentary series on renowned intellectual CLR James with a debate on the ‘Western Cannon’, after winning a heritage lottery grant to fund the project.

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Every Cook Can Govern: The life and works of CLR James

Last Saturday, Worldbytes, a charity and citizens TV channel based in Hackney, London, embarked on a two year long journey documenting the life and intellectual legacy of renowned black activist, CLR James.

At the Long Room of The Kia Oval Cricket Ground, South London, an expert panel discussed the works of CLR James, and debated whether a revised “Western Cannon” was needed for a new generation of thinkers.

The event began with a representative from The National Heritage Lottery Fund congratulating the charity for winning a £70,000 grant to produce the multimedia project.

The project, dubbed “Every Cook Can Govern: Documenting the life, impact & works of CLR James”, will include a documentary series and an on-line knowledge portal, produced largely by volunteers.

Despite disagreeing on precisely what should be included in a revised cannon, there was no shortage of kind words for CLR James. The panelists all agreed on the significance of his writing and activism.

Education system is “a dull instrument of policy”

Claire Fox, director and founder of the British think tank, the Institute of Ideas, expressed concern that the current education system is a “dull instrument of policy”.

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She said: “There is an injunction between people who want to know and the way they are taught.

“The cannon of great literature has universal experience. It allows us to break out the particulars of our experience,” she added.

Kenan Malik on The Black Jacobins

While Kenan Malik, a writer, lecturer and broadcaster, was pressed by audience members to speak about “The Black Jacobins”, CLR’s most iconic and endearing piece of literature.

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He said: “[CLR James] is perhaps the greatest poet of the anti-colonial movement. There are few figures who can match.

“He was an icon of black liberation. Undoubtedly, The Black Jacobins was his masterpiece.”

James wanted to “change the world”

Fellow panel member Selma James, an author, activist, and partner of CLR for 30 years, believed that he wanted to make the world a better place.

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She said: “James used [The Black Jacobins] as a weapon in the struggle for African independence.

“He had a passion for learning. He brought with him a profound understanding of humanism when he came to England, and offered a radically new vision of the world.”

Beyond a Boundary: More than just a game

Alan Hudson, Director of Programmes in Leadership & Public Policy at Oxford University, focused on CLR’s famous memoir on cricket, “Beyond a Boundary”, first published in 1963.

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He said: “The book is not about cricket, but how the game can express so much more… the cultivating of this powerful cultural embodiment is much more than the game itself.

“[CLR James] was able to unite everybody in a way that nobody else can. He had a powerful sensibility to the working class.”

Volunteer for WorldBytes

WorldbytesLogo_RGB

The charity plan to host a “Read-a-thon” in February next year, where volunteers will take part in a sponsored live streamed reading of CLR’s work, to help raise extra funds for the project.

Volunteers can also take part in producing the documentary and on-line portal, learning on the job media skills, such as filming, editing, promotion and research.

Head on over to the WorldBytes website to find out how you can get involved.

*Pictures courtesy of WorldBytes

The changing face of journalism #soeconf2013

Originally published on The Society of Editors official website, with live updates on my twitter account. 

At a panel discussion at the Society of Editors conference, industry leaders were optimistic about the future of the industry despite the decline of traditional print media.

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Both Simon Fox, Chief Executive of Trinity Mirror, and fellow panelist Peter Barron, former editor of BBC’s Newsnight, said that journalism today is in robust health.

“The standard of journalism is absolutely phonemenal,” said Cox.

Both agreed that there has been a revolution in the way reporters gather information.

Barron said: “The possibilities for journalists are so rich today.”

Steve Auckland, former chief executive of Local World, said: “The web has enabled encouraging audience growth for first time in a long time.”

However, the panelists disagreed on the best way to monetize digital media.

Speaking on paywalls, Simon Fox, Chief executive of Trinity Mirror, said: “For a mass news organisation like Trinity Mirror, the best route was to have content available to as many readers as possible.”

Panel member Geraldine Allinson, Chairman of the KM Group, was optimistic about advertising online.

She said: “Advertisitng is definitely going in the right direction…but ask me again in 6 months time.”

David Dinsmore, editor of The Sun, argued that a paywall was best for his newspaper, and that he was excited to have an in depth relationship with their readers.

“If you can create an easy mechanism, people will pay for it,” he said.

In a more diplomatic fashion, Fox said: “There’s no right or wrong model.

“There are different approaches in each case.”

 

Attack on Florida student: Was it the Muslim Patrol?

American student attacked in East London

Two weeks ago police released CCTV footage of a man being attacked by a group of five Asian men. A 20-year-old man, Shelim Uddin from Whitechapel, was charged late last month with causing grievous bodily harm to Francesco Hounye, a 22-year-old student from Florida.

Francesco had only been in the country for three days. Shelim was implicated in the footage, seen attacking the student with a bottle on Commercial Road, Whitechapel.

[FULL] US Student Attacked By Five Men In London, Video captures beating of US student in UK

VIDEO: American student being attacked

Description: In a dimly lit street, a young man is walking home after a night out drinking with a friend.  Unbeknownst to him however, is a gang of hooded hoodlums lurking in the shadows. They follow him down an empty street and a confrontation begins to unravel.

As the gang quickly surrounds him, some heated words are exchanged, and he postures up to them ready to fight back. The first punch is thrown, while another grabs the bottle in his hand and smashes it across his face.

A few stretched out moments of panic follow as he makes a dash across the road in front of a passing car, but they chase the man, grab him by the shoulders and pin him against a wall, wildly punching and kicking until he stumbles to the floor.

When the thugs have had their fill of savagery, they scatter like cockroaches, back into the covers of darkness.

Islamist group accused of attack

There were some news outlets that claimed that the vigilante street gang, who named themselves the ‘Muslim Patrol’, was to blame for the attack, while others, such as The Daily Beast, alluded to the possibility of the group being responsible.

However, there is currently no evidence to suggest that these attackers were connected to the Islamist group. The police said that Mr Hounye, who was considering continuing his studies in Britain, was targeted because he was “obviously not local.”

Who are the ‘Muslim Patrol’?

The Stream – 'Muslim Patrol' police London streets

VIDEO: Aljazeera “The Stream, Who are the Muslim Patrol?”

The Muslim Patrol first gained notoriety after uploading their night time crusades onto Youtube earlier this year.

On a few nights in January, the group filmed themselves scolding prostitutes, people drinking alcohol, and women whom they called “naked animals”. The video went viral, spreading across the internet like wildfire. In it they claim that they were “vigilantes implementing Islam upon your own necks”.

A follow up video soon appeared. They increased their range, with a ‘patrol’ in Whitechapel, Tower Hamlets and Shoreditch. They increased in confidence, stating “Islam will take over the world”.

One member of the group started getting violent. 19-year-old gang member Jamaal Uddin, is a British born Muslim convert formally known as Jordan Horner. Last month he pleaded guilty to two charges of assault and using threatening words and behaviour. In another incident, which took place outside Islam4UK’s spokesman Anjem Choudary’s home, Jamaal attacked one photographer and caused nearly £3000 worth of damage to another ones car.

By the beginning of February the gang’s two videos had been removed from YouTube citing policy violations, and two men had been arrested in connection to homophobic assaults. They were held on suspicion of causing grievous bodily harm and public order offences, and were bailed to return to an east London police station in February and March.

A further three were arrested in July, bringing the total to five possible gang members, two of which were teenagers. Details of these arrests have yet to be released. None of the arrested persons have been convicted, with having either charges dropped or proceedings still active.

In April this year, PlanetIvy reporter Ben Holt spoke to 22-year-old Royal Barnes, one of the men who was arrested over the Muslim Patrol videos. Royal and his wife were later charged with terror offences over the Woolwich murder video.

In the interview Royal said: “I’m proud of what Muslim Patrol done… I’m encouraging Muslims to speak out against evil.”

Reponse of the British public

The public response to the two clips that surfaced was a mixed one. There was anger; there was hatred; an uproar about the apparent growth of ‘Islamist Extremism’ within our British society.

Many in the Muslim community feared a backlash of violence, and were quick to condemn the assailants. The East London Mosque, which also functions as a local community centre, tried to distance themselves from the group. While Tower Hamlets Inter Faith Forum, a faith network in East London, released a statement in response to the patrols.

Mohammed Shafiq is the chief executive of the Ramadhan Foundation, a Muslim organisation that campaigns for a peaceful co-existence among communities. He condemned the group’s behaviour in an address given at Ebrahim College, a school and educational foundation in Whitechapel.

He said: “We live in the UK and we are governed by UK law, there should be no mob rule. If people are involved in this behaviour then it is worrying but it is an isolated incident.”

An Islamic Response to 'Muslim Street Patrols'

VIDEO:An Imam’s response to patrol

Yet despite the widespread chastising of the group by British Muslims, there were many who were ready and willing to let the incident stoke racial tensions. Indeed, one Daily Mail commenter, Paul from Chilwell, lamented: “Why don’t these hate filled Muslims go back to their country of origin and leave us brits alone?”

In response, Abdul Mammon from Liverpool said: “I was born in the UK…are you lot going to send me back to England?”

Extremism in the UK

The Muslim Patrol is only the one instance of growing extremism in the UK and across Europe, which is being mirrored by anti-Muslim groups.

Haras Rafiq is the former Director of CENTRI, an organisation that specialises in countering extremism. In an interview with BBCs Shiraz Maher, he said: “The way [extremists] recruit is to create a lens or a prism through which youngsters who have a personal problem, that they may have created in the first place, will find the answers.”

Earlier this month Tommy Robinson, cofounder of British far right group the English Defence League (EDL), left to join Qulliam, a London based anti-extremist think tank started by Maajid Nawaz. Maajid was a former speaker and recruiter for the The Liberation Party, a conservative Islamic political group, until an arrest in 2001 and subsequent departure from extremism.

VIDEO: SkyNews Tommy and Maajid Press Conference

Tommy and Maajid recently appeared in a BBC Documentary “Quitting the English Defence League: When Tommy Met Mo”. Both men are now working together to curb the rise of extremism across Europe. In an article in The Times earlier this year, Maajid said: “The longer we stand by and watch the far Right and Islamists impose their dogma on our streets, the more the extremes will become mainstream for a rising new generation.”

Both sets of right-wing extremists are “attempting to claim the streets” he added.

However, Maajid and Quilliam are not without their critics.

Editor of 5Pillarz.com, Roshan Salih,  lambasted the think tank for a lack of grassroots support, claiming that the organisation had been artificially amplified by government finances. He said: “There is a need for an organisation which has roots in the community, is loyal to it, is critical of the government and Islamophbia, yet also still seeks to address the real problems that exist in the community itself.”

 

London Living Wage in Ilford

Employers are reluctant to adopt the London Living Wage despite last week’s report of growing inequalities across Redbridge.

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At the London Assembly today, Boris Johnson, Mayor of London, urged businesses in London to pay the London Living Wage to their employees.

Responding to a question by South West London representative Tony Arbour, Boris said: “I think a compulsory living wage is not the way forward.

“We’re making considerable headway however,” he added.

The London Living Wage, which was introduced in 2005, currently stands at £8.55.

While the wage is not binding, up to 200 employers back the scheme.

In Ilford, the average hourly wage is £16.46, while across London it is £20.10, according to the Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings, 2012.

Almost a quarter of people living in Ilford earn below the London Living Wage.

Last week, a report by The London Poverty Profile, compiled by charity Trust for London, showed that wealthy residents lived up to eight years longer than the poorest in Redbridge.

Corps officer John Clifton, from The Salvation Army, based in Clements Road, Ilford, said: “A lot of these problems could be addressed through employers paying a living wage.”

However, employers say it’s out of their hands.

Naeem Hassanali, owner of Accurate Alarms Ltd, Seven Kings, said: “I really want to pay a decent wage, but I simply can’t afford to.

“The government needs to do more to help us pay our workers enough to live properly.”

Earlier this year, Redbridge Council began a consultation process on paying the London Living Wage to Redbridge Council employees.

Lee Scott, MP for Ilford-North said: “I think it would be fair for all to be paid a fair wage.”

 

Lambeth Council and Welfare reforms

Note to reader: This is a little piece I wrote today for my Reporting lesson at Lambeth College. We were sent onto the streets and given one hour to find a local story and write it up. Approximately 300 words.

The Pavement, Lambeth, Greater London, SW4 0, UK

“Vulnerable” families facing eviction

Welfare reforms may cause hundreds of vulnerable families to be evicted from their homes.

Lambeth Council are now targeting families who are in debt to the council.

The Clapham Community Project on Bromells Road is running a pilot project to find the best way to engage with families on welfare who are in debt to the council.

The centre, which provides free advice and a community hall, is working with the council to implement a three pronged approach to help families facing eviction.

Mary Lane from the Clapham Community Project said: “These people have a responsibility to the council and other tenants to pay their rent.”

“But the council does not want to evict people who are vulnerable,” she added.

First, the advice centre finds the best means to contact these families, such as letter writing or telephone.

Next, they provide “benefits check”, making sure the family are getting the welfare payments they’re entitled to.

After which, they will make arrangements with the council to pay any outstanding debts in arrears, along with give advice to the family.

Welfare Reforms

The Welfare Reform Act 2012 commenced in April this year.

In total, 3000 families have been affected by welfare reforms, while 600 families are in debt to Lambeth council and are in danger of being evicted from their homes.

These welfare reforms are suspected to increase income poverty along with put added pressure on free advice services.

There are also concerns that current tenants may be priced out the area, leading to a migration of the working class into outer areas of London.

The Chartered Institute of Housing believe that the cumlative effects of the welfare reform means that by 2020 every tenants housing benefit will be too low to cover the cost of rent.

 (Reference: www.lambethfirst.org.uk/public.getfile.cfm?type=multiplefile&fid=1638 )