Brexit briefing: updated info on keeping safe

A big thank you to DS Shabnam Chaudri and colleagues for hosting our latest Brexit Briefing for local places of worship at New Scotland Yard.

We refreshed our knowledge of keeping ourselves, our buildings and the wider community safe.  The EU Exit page has been updated with links, videos and checklists which we can use to maintain and increase our resilience. There is also plenty of information for non-British EU citizens, businesses, universities, handling the media, looking after one another and reporting hate crime.

Attacks against Muslims and mosques have soared since Christchurch. We discussed how we can all keep at look out, protect each other and report hate crime of any kind. Here is a pdf of the Upstander cartoon, which is easy to circulate – what to do if someone on the bus/tube/train/street is being shouted at or receiving horrible comments. We heard many stories of people from minority faith and ethnic groups in London, including people from Eastern Europe, receiving hateful messages and online abuse. Reporting abuse and providing support is something we can all do.

Since our briefing, the earliest date for leaving the EU has shifted to 12 April.  We are keeping in touch with each other and we encourage all places of worship across the capital to strengthen their links with neighbouring churches, mosques, temples, gurdwaras & synagogues – and with their local authorities and police.  Borough faith forums are one way of supporting each other and a network to share information.

The Church of England is encouraging churches and communities to come together for tea & prayer for the country and the Brexit process.

Please contact LBFN if you would like the contact details of your local Metropolitan Police Faith Officer.  The MPS is now organised into 12 areas across London called Basic Command Units (BCUs) and Faith Officers sometimes work across their SBU or look after a smaller area.

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Safe | Secure | Resilient – Brexit Briefing

Register here to join us on Thursday 21 March 6pm-8pm at New Scotland Yard, Victoria Embankment, SW1A 2JL, for briefings from DS Shabham Chaudhri and DC Richard Fidge of the Metropolitan Police and to share ideas on building a positive environment together in our neighbourhoods & boroughs.

Bring photo ID for entry to New Scotland Yard.  Allow 10 mins to clear security.  Registration by 11am on 20 March is essential.

Please pass on this invitation to others who might find it useful.

Gardening projects

Inter-Generational Gardening

Faiths Forum for London is working with young people aged 16-18 from faith communities in six boroughs to help improve at least 8 small pieces of derelict ground and transform them into pleasant community spaces.

Each youth volunteer is matched with retired people from a different faith background who are willing to pass on their gardening skills and enthusiasm to a new generation. FFL is looking for 100 young people to take part and at least 20 mentors.

If you are a faith group, a volunteering organisation or a school and are interested in taking part in this project, please contact warwick@faithsforum4london.org.

If you are aged 16-18 and live in East London, or are a faith community in East London, FFL wants to hear from you. Join us for a 3 day community gardening project.

For more information, or to register, please contact warwick@faithsforum4london.org

Preparing for EU Exit

Our meeting at City Hall last week brought people from Christian, Buddhist, Hindu, Jewish, Muslim & Sikh communities together for some thoughtful discussion.

We are very grateful to Jeremy Reynolds of London Resilience for briefing us on preparations for leaving the EU and for listening to a range of concerns as well as our positive ideas for resisting any negative impacts on our local communities.

Local authority and police officers also joined us.

Have a look at our EU Exit page, which is now updated with links to useful sources of information suggested by Jeremy and others. There are also suggestions for action, with links. We will keep this refreshed as new material becomes available.

Concerns included hate crime on public transport (eg “Wait till Brexit – we’ll get rid of you”), uncertainty & not knowing who to ask, trade down in small businesses & worries about import/export, impact on donations to foodbanks, paralysis at the top trickling down to local level, fear experienced by anyone perceived to be foreign (whether they are British or not), antisemitism playing into the situation (“you’re controlling/benefiting from all this”), concerns that Islamophobia & antisemitism in the major political parties not really being dealt with properly, people being asked to prove their status before treatment in the NHS (& embarrassment about this stopping British people going for treatment until things are worse), EU nationals can register but you don’t get a piece of paper only a number, people are confused over benefits, public services are fully stretched and also preparing for EU Exit, no-one wants to stir up unnecessary fear by voicing uncertainty, visible differences (eg minority religious clothing) v invisible differences (eg when speaking) create further fractures, uncertainty about travelling to continental Europe and getting back to the UK, worries about EU Nationals employed by churches, fears of panic buying and public disorder.

Having channels of communication open means we can be prepared. There are suggestions on our EU Exit page. Preparing for Brexit builds our capacity & our social capital. It encourages the public sector, churches, mosques, gurdwaras, synagogues & temples to be in touch and to

  • bring together local residents
  • resist any negative impact on community relations
  • support the vulnerable
  • share information

We are planning one more briefing meeting before 29 March. In the meantime, please keep in touch and add your own suggestions of useful material/organisations as a reply to this post or by email.

PS Apologies for the intrusive ads; we need to upgrade the LBFN site.

Brexit Briefing | Thursday 7 March

Book your place here. Join us on 7 March 6pm at City Hall, SE1 2AA, to hear the latest information and to share ideas on building a positive environment together in our neighbourhoods & boroughs.

How should we prepare for 29 March, regardless of the outcome of negotiations?

We are aware that many of us – representing organisations and as individuals – have questions and concerns about the impact of EU Exit, regardless of whether this is a ‘no deal’ situation, or what ‘deal’ is agreed upon.  We are also aware that these questions and concerns may be around tangible issues, or less tangible issues, and may be objective and real, or mostly arise from perceptions.

You are invited to a briefing and discussion on EU Exit on Thursday 7th March from 6pm-8pm.

This will be an opportunity to share these questions and concerns with each other, and also to hear from key people from public agencies such as the Police, local and central government.  We will also aim to guide participants to sources of clear information and to share ideas together for how to build a positive, welcoming and hopeful environment in our communities.

The following questions and concerns may be included:

* Possible spikes in hate crime
* Concerns about possible shortages of food, fuel and medicines
* Staffing issues in our own organisations and in public services
* Residence and status issues for our members
* Issues for students
* Concerns that other more important issues have been side-lined as a result of the unhealthy focus on Brexit

There is no cost and all are invited to this meeting. 

Please forward this invitation on to others who might find it useful. 

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LBFN leads on training and exercising for the Faith Sector Panel of London Resilience

Our training Safe | Secure | Resilient will be available for Londoners again later this year.

We are grateful to City Hall for hosting this event.

Torn from home: Holocaust Memorial Day 27 January

Torn from home is the theme for Holocaust Memorial Day 2019.

Kindertransport girls passing through customs

There are activities across the capital to mark this important day. Some of the borough events are listed below. Find an activity near you on the HMD site.

Holocaust Memorial Day is the day for everyone to remember the millions of people murdered in the Holocaust, under Nazi Persecution, and in the genocides which followed in Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia, and Darfur.

Torn from home encourages us to reflect on how the enforced loss of a safe place to call ‘home’ is part of the trauma faced by anyone experiencing persecution and genocide. ‘Home’ usually means a place of safety, comfort and security. On HMD 2019 people across the UK will reflect on what happens when individuals, families and communities are driven out of, or wrenched from their homes, because of persecution or the threat of genocide, alongside the continuing difficulties survivors face as they try to find and build new homes when the genocide is over.

HMD 2019 will include marking the 25th anniversary of the Genocide in Rwanda, which began in April 1994 and the 40th anniversary of the end of the Genocide in Cambodia, which ended in 1979. HMD activity organisers may particularly want to acknowledge this milestone anniversary, and reflect on how this theme impacts on members of the Rwandan and Cambodian communities.

Safet is a survivor of the Bosnian War. This photograph is taken in his living room.

Safet was 16 when Muslim men and boys began being taken away to concentration camps. He remembers his father and brother being ordered out of the house, and his mother stopped him from going with them. He came to England with his mother, and later his father and brother joined them.

Safet is holding a school photograph, taken in 1982 when he was six years old, before the war started.

‘It was a really mixed group in terms of religion. We were kids and we didn’t think of religion at all. I have chosen this [photograph] because it shows how things were before, and it just reminds me. It would be nice to be able to go back to how it used to be. It can be done, I’m 100% certain. We have no problems between ourselves, it’s the politicians making these problems, and that’s the most frustrating thing.

‘It’s important to keep the memory alive, because some people are just not aware of what was happening in Bosnia, it’s a surprise to me. People were dying in concentration camps, torture took place, in Europe, in the 90s. Everyone thought that once World War II was over that wouldn’t happen again, but it did.

Click on the dates for borough HMD 2019 events. If you know of others, please add a comment to this post with details. A map of activities is on the HMD site.

Visit My Mosque Day 2019

Visit My Mosque 2018The date has been set for #VMM Day 2019 – Sunday 3 March!  Thirty-four mosques in London opened their doors to the public in 2018 – find them here.  Many more are expected to sign up in 2019.

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To register your mosque and get a pack full of ideas, information & inspiration, visit the #VMM Day website.

If you want to visit a mosque on Sunday 3 March, sign up for the latest news.