Wednesday, 21 March 2018

Green AM urges London Mayor to reject Cricklewood Rail-Freight Facility

Caroline Russell, Green Assembly Member for London, has written to the London Mayor urging him to reject the planning application for the Rail-Freight facility in Cricklewood.

Her letter is below (click on bottom right square to enlarge)

Monday, 19 March 2018

'Brent is no place for hate' - Islamophobic letters condemned by Council & Brent MPS

Brent Council has issued the following annoucement

Recent threatening, Islamophobic letters sent to addresses in towns and cities have shone a spotlight on the national conversation around hate crime and the targeting of faith-based communities.

Brent Council and the Metropolitan Police Service have condemned the Islamophobic threats made in letters encouraging violence against Muslims.
Cllr Tom Miller, Cabinet Member for Stronger Communities said:
Brent is no place for hate. Let me be clear: these disgusting messages and their attempts to normalise hatred towards Muslims will absolutely not be tolerated. We are in close contact with the Metropolitan Police Service and are working hard to support residents to feel safe in Brent.

We are proud to be home to one of the most diverse communities in the UK and if anyone believes they have been the victim of a hate crime or knows someone who has, I would urge them to contact the local police force on 101 or 999 for emergencies. Reports can be made by community advocates or faith groups on behalf of those involved
In 2016 Brent Council launched the Time to Talk Campaign, giving people the space to talk openly about difficult issues.

Since then, the council has widened the remit of referral services and its community support officer to include hate crime and has commissioned a hate crime manual. An online portal has also been developed to learn and report different types of hate crime.

Advice and guidance on what to do if you are the victim of or witness to a hate crime is available here.
You can also report Islamophobic hate crime to TELL MAMA, an organisation dedicated to recording anti-Muslim incidents and bringing them to the attention of the police.

Meeting convened on College Green Open Space March 22nd

There will be a meeting about the College Green Outdoor Space at 7pm Thur 22nd  March at St. Mark's Church, Bathurst Gdns NW10 5HX. Brian Grady, Brent Council's Operational Director of Children and Families, will be attending.

A meeting about the future of the Green had been requested at the last Full Council meeting where it was proposed that the Council convene a meeting of the College Green Preservation Society, the nursery, scouts and local residents to sort out the issue of the screening of the open space. LINK

Brent Council's response to Islamophobic April 3rd letter

In a welcome move Cllr Tom Miller, Brent Council lead member for Stronger Communities, has written to all councillors setting out his response to the Islamophobic  'Punish a Muslim' 'April 3rd' letter which has received much publicity on social media.

Cllr Miller writes:

The letters sent are just one example of a swathe of Islamophobic material reported and made more widely available by Tellmama, who are a partner organisation in our own anti-hate crime drive. For those members who have not come across Tellmama’s work in cataloguing incidents like this, more information can be found here:

The letters concerned involve a general threat of violence against Muslims on April 3rd. Thus far, I have not received any indication from members, police, Council officers or members of the public about people receiving the letters in Brent. I have also received no information about any other threats, specific or general, made against targets or communities in Brent. It would be unusual if a police investigation into the letters is not underway.

I would be very keen to hear about any specific incidents or threats (including receiving this letter) if they have taken place. This should also be reported to Police immediately.

I’d stress that the council has also invested in a number of measures to tackle hate crime which can help people to report, make sure that cases are dealt with appropriately and that victims are represented, and that people receive the support they need. You can find information for reporting and the rest of the activity we have undertaken by using the link below:

In addition to making sure that any incidents are reported, I would be very happy to hear of any specific preventative actions residents are keen on us adopting, and will pass them on to Police colleagues, who are also copied in here and may be able to update further.

On the issue about Prevent, far right activity certainly falls within its scope, but Prevent is really about flagging radicalisation during its development, and in Brent is specifically about safeguarding its victims. The kind of threat made in this letter is in my view clearly a criminal threat of violence and is therefore more seriously developed than we would expect Prevent to deal with, as well as being anonymous. Prevent doesn’t give us powers to detect extremist threats, for example; in a case like this, Prevent would aim to reach the person who wrote the letters before they had carried out any kind of criminal activity and offer interventions such as counselling, usually because of a concern highlighted by professional they are dealing with, for example social workers. So, although Prevent covers the far right, in this particular case the anonymity and criminal aspect means that this will usually fall within the ‘Pursue’ or ‘Protect’ parts of the government’s CONTEST strategy, being dealt with through the Home Office and Police

Sunday, 18 March 2018

Alperton's Andria Zafirak a deserving winner of Global Teacher Prize

Andria Zafirak, a textiles teacher at Alperton Community School, has won the Global Teacher Prize. Andria's commitment to seeing her pupils lives in a holistic way, going beyond the school gates and recognising the role of creativity in education, are an imnpressive aspect of her practice. Congratulations Andria!

The BBC in reporting the award LINK said:
In her acceptance speech, she said schools should be "safe havens" and called for greater recognition for the value of arts subjects in school.

She warned of "deprivation" and "tough lives" where "children may not eat well because their lunch boxes are empty".

But she said school could make a great positive difference - particular through creative subjects.

"Too often we neglect this power of the arts to actually transform lives, particularly in the poorest communities."

The teacher from Alperton Community School has been praised for her work with the local community as well as with pupils.

She says the mix of people and languages in this part of north London is a "beautiful challenge" which creates a "buzzing" atmosphere.

Brent is claimed as one of the most ethnically diverse places in the UK, with 130 different languages spoken in the London borough. 

She has learned basic phrases in languages such as Hindi, Tamil and Gujarati and has visited homes to build links with the school.

Mrs Zafirakou has been praised for making her pupils feel secure, working with the police to make sure they travel to and from school in safety.

And she will have to stay in teaching, because a condition of the prize is remaining as a teacher for at least the next five years.

Quiet place to work

When she reached the top 10 shortlist, she spoke of the disadvantages facing many of her pupils.

"By getting pupils to open up about their home lives, I discovered that many of my students come from crowded homes where multiple families share a single property," said Mrs Zafirakou.

"It's often so crowded and noisy I've had students tell me they have to do their homework in the bathroom, just to grab a few moments alone so they can concentrate."

In response, she organised extra lessons during the day and the weekend, including giving pupils a quiet place to work.

 The nominations from Andria's school said:

"I am submitting a nomination for a teacher who is a true gem, one who inspires such possibility and potential in her students, their parents, the staff, her peers, the local community, and future teachers and leaders." 

"A phenomenal teacher and leader. She is guided by a moral compass that underpins a passionate desire to give every student at her school the world - no ceilings, no limitations, no boundaries." 

"She is a force to be reckoned with when it comes to ensuring that students deserve the best education possible."

"One lady with care and passion can make a huge difference to the lives of many. She is upbeat, full of character, highly regarded and I wish all schools were blessed with a senior leader such as her!"

Friday, 16 March 2018

Somalis in World War 1 - tomorrow Willesden Green Library

Conservation event at Welsh Harp Environmental Studies Centre tomorrow

The frogs had been busy in the lower pond at the Centre when I visited today
Friends of the Welsh Harp Environmental Studies Centre are holding another conservation event tomorrow  Saturday 17th March, 10am – 12.30pm

We will be starting at 10am and finishing at 12.30pm. Here is a link to the event with details:

At the next event we will be working on the following tasks:

-          Vegetation and small tree stump clearance in Forest School Zone
-          Prune the apple trees in front of the buildings.
-          Cut back shrubby vegetation growing in the meadow and pond.
-          Other tasks as they come up.

A present the event is planned to go ahead despite the forecast of snow. If cancelled an update will appear here.  Wrap up warm.


Leopold Primary School

I will not be reporting on this issue because I have an interest in the matter. I am Chair of Governors at Chalkhill Primary School and in that role have approved the appointment of our headteacher as Executive Headteacher of Chalkhill and Leopold starting after the Easter Holiday for one year in the first instance.

For the same reason I will not be publishing any comments on this issue.

Martin Francis