Lambeth Safeguarding Children Board – training day

lscbA free training day for religious and cultural groups will take place on 27 September in Brixton, SW2.

The day is designed for small groups who work with young people and are not commissioned by Lambeth Council, such as faith and cultural groups.

Features of the training day will include:

  • Details of support available to the faith sector and small independent organisations
  • Practical guidance on safer recruitment
  • Advice on child accident prevention, road safety & fire safety
  • Time to network with similar organisations
  • A chance to speak to the Local Authority Designated Officer and specialists from the LSCB, the Safe Network, Lambeth Children’s Services, Health, Police and Fire services
  • Information about free safeguarding training and resources
  • Updates on hot topics such as e-safety & sexual exploitation

Download the flyer and fill in the booking form if you are interesting in applying.  Thanks to Faiths Together in Lambeth for sharing this opportunity.  Are there other boroughs offering this kind of training?

London’s Islamic Centres

The Metropolitan Police Commissioner issued a statement this evening, following two suspicious fires in Barnet and Bromley.

“These are difficult times for London’s communities,” he said.

“The Met is now investigating suspicious fires at two locations within the Islamic community which have happened in the past few days. Fortunately no one has been hurt, but we know that fires can often prove fatal.”

He said he wanted to reassure people that the police were “using our full range of policing tactics to protect sites that might be vulnerable”.

“In all boroughs across London, there is an increased police presence around locations that might be at risk. We will maintain a 24/7 guard of uniformed officers at sites we consider to be at greatest risk,” he said.

“We should not allow the murder of Lee Rigby to come between Londoners. The unified response we have seen to his death across all communities will triumph over those who seek to divide us.”

A BBC report gives further details.  Safety advice remains in place.  Please contact your local police if you have any safety concerns.

The positive response by local religious groups and leaders to recent events has been swift and strongly supportive of our local Islamic centres.

Members of Barnet Multi Faith Forum are supporting colleagues at the Bravanese Centre and the Darul Uloom School in Chislehurst will be receiving assistance from the newly formed Interfaith Forum in Bromley.

Religious communities in Woolwich have been rallying round and showing their solidarity.  The Director of the Greenwich Islamic Centre (Woolwich Mosque), Dr Tariq Abbasi, and Revd Malcolm Torry (Greenwich Faith Community Leaders) both spoke on the BBC’s Sunday programme.  The Islamic Centre welcomed well-wishers to tea on Friday 31st May and the Bishop of Woolwich, Archbishop Kevin McDonald, Rabbi Laura Janner-Klausner, local MP Nick Rainsford, Sadiq Khan MP, Julie Siddiqi of the Islamic Society of Britian and many others joined Dr Abbasi in laying flowers in memory of Lee Rigby at Woolwich Barracks.  You can find photos of the occasion here and there were many press and TV reports.  Afterwards Dr Abbasi sent a message of thanks,

“Thank you to everyone who visited the Greenwich Islamic Centre on Friday afternoon and for the support that the Centre and community has received.”

LBFN was to have met this Thursday.  Everyone has been very busy so we will postpone a full meeting, but all are welcome at our office for light refreshments at 9 St John’s Crypt, 73 Waterloo Road, SE1 8TY at 2.30pm on Thursday 13th June to reflect on recent events.  Please let LBFN know if you plan to join us.  There will be time to move to Westminster Cathedral for those attending Cardinal Tauran’s prayers for peace with leaders of different faiths at 4.30/5.00pm.


Suspected Arson Attacks – United London Stands

We, as representatives of nine of London’s faith communities, stand united in solidarity in our disgust at the murder of Drummer Lee Rigby in Woolwich, the suspected arson attacks on an Islamic centre in Muswell Hill and a Muslim school in Chislehurst.

None of these are a legitimate means to express grievance. None of these are representative of a faith that we recognise. None of these show pride in being British.

We know religion and we know British pride. It is about a shared commitment to the common good of our city and our country. That is our mission. That is our faith.

We welcome the comments of the Mayor of London, the Metropolitan Police Commissioner and many of London’s leaders, condemning this violence and calling for unity.

In spite of the attempts of extremists to divide us, it is clear that victory will ultimately lie with peace, hope and love.

United London Stands.

Street grooming

caase photoAmidst the concern of many of us about organised street grooming and the sexual exploitation of vulnerable children and young adults, a new coalition has been launched.

The Community Alliance Against Sexual Exploitation brings together religious and human rights groups, including the Muslim Council of Britain, Church of England, City Sikhs Network and the Christian Muslim Forum and is led by the Islamic Society of Britain and HOPE not hate. 

CAASE believes that local and national grassroots and faith organisations are often best-placed to reach out into the communities most beset by this problem. 

Working across child protection services, with local authorities, schools, faith communities and the police, CAASE will develop a proactive response to the growing problem of on-street grooming, raising awareness, educating and developing community-led responses.”

There is more information on the London Peace Network website, but please contact CAASE to see how your religious group or faith forum can support this important work.

FFL’s Faith and Policing Conference 23 April

Met_PoliceOn the morning of 23 April, Faiths Forum for London is teaming up with the Metropolitan Police to host a conversation about the relationship between the police and faith communities.

FFL’s Director, Phil Rosenberg, says

This initiative comes at the request of the Metropolitan Police Commissioner, Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe, who will be among the participants.  Topics covered will include:

Diversifying the Met
Tackling Hate Crime
Faith Responses to Major Incidents
Enhancing Local Relationships
Addressing Youth Crime

Many of us will be interested in all these topics and will be able to contribute from our own local experience & expertise.

LBFN has been asked to contribute to the Enhancing Local Relationships breakout group.  I’m hoping an officer from the British Transport Police will also be able to join us.

More information about the conference is on FFL’s website.

Download the Registration Form here and return it to FFL at

Policing in London: consultations in each borough

police and crime planStop Press (9 Jan): Here is the draft Police and Crime Plan, the slides shown at the Lambeth consultation and the Consultation Draft, which gives details of how to provide feedback.  The deadline is 6th March.  Written responses are invited here.


Consultations come, consultations go.  This one is on policing and crime – and a roadshow is coming your way.

We’ve all attended public meetings or filled in a questionnaire.  Those of us who’ve done plenty of both may reckon it’s of little value unless

  • the conversations are with the right people (those in public agencies with strategic responsibility)
  • local communities have already had a chance to talk through what is working, what needs to change and why
  • there is a commitment to follow up the consultation and review progress

The Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime – MOPAC – says

“We want your views to help shape the Mayor’s Police and Crime Plan which will be published in April 2013.

It will set out how we aim to reduce crime in the capital over the next four years and what the Met Police and other agencies are doing to tackle crime.”

mopac logoThere isn’t much time between the final consultation at City Hall on 28 February and the publication date to make any changes, but there will be a chance to see what is planned and to ask how local communities will be engaged over the next four years.

How will other agencies – eg the community safety team within each local council – be tackling crime and engaging local people?  How will your borough’s community police engagement group (CPEG) be involved?  Will there be a role for local faith forums?  There is a particular focus on engaging the victims of crime – how will young people and other victims be included?

“The MOPAC has a duty to consult communities on policing in London, including getting the views of people in the area.

It also has a new responsibility to include victims of crime on matters concerning their policing and to obtain their cooperation with police in preventing crime.”

Boroughs with a Hate Crime Forum will want to see how their work relates to the new policy.

Find your borough below (the link will take you to further details) and find your local CPEG from the map here.  Would it be useful to look at this at our next meeting?  Suggestions always welcome.

  • Barking & Dagenham Barking Learning Centre Thursday, 21 February, 2013 – 18:00 to 19:00
  • Barnet Hendon Town Hall Monday, 14 January, 2013 – 18:00 to 19:00
  • Bexley Council Chamber & Public Gallery Tuesday, 29 January, 2013 – 18:00 to 19:00
  • Brent Sattavis Patidar Centre Thursday, 10 January, 2013 – 20:00 to 21:00
  • Bromley Bromley Civic Centre Monday, 28 January, 2013 – 20:00 to 21:00
  • Camden Camden Centre Tuesday, 22 January, 2013 – 20:00 to 21:00
  • Croydon Croydon Conference Centre Tuesday, 12 February, 2013 – 20:00 to 21:00
  • Ealing Ealing Town Hall Tuesday, 5 February, 2013 – 20:00 to 21:00
  • Enfield Civic Centre Conference Room Monday, 14 January, 2013 – 20:00 to 21:00
  • Final MOPAC consultation City Hall Thursday, 28 February, 2013 – 18:00 to 19:30
  • Greenwich King William Court, University of Greenwich Tuesday, 29 January, 2013 – 20:00 to 21:00
  • Hackney Hackney Assembly Hall Thursday, 24 January, 2013 – 18:00 to 19:00
  • Hammersmith & Fulham Hammersmith Town Hall Tuesday, 5 February, 2013 – 18:00 to 19:00
  • Haringey Haringey Civic Centre Wednesday, 20 February, 2013 – 20:00 to 21:00
  • Harrow Harrow Civic Centre Thursday, 10 January, 2013 – 18:00 to 19:00
  • Havering Salvation Army Centre Thursday, 21 February, 2013 – 20:00 to 21:00
  • Hillingdon Civic Hall in the Civic Centre Wednesday, 6 February, 2013 – 18:00 to 19:00
  • Hounslow Lampton Park Conference Centre Wednesday, 6 February, 2013 – 20:00 to 21:00
  • Islington Islington Assembly Hall Tuesday, 22 January, 2013 – 18:00 to 19:00
  • Kensington & Chelsea Chelsea Town Hall Thursday, 31 January, 2013 – 20:00 to 21:00
  • Kingston upon Thames Council Chamber Wednesday, 27 February, 2013 – 18:00 to 19:00
  • Lambeth Electric Brixton Wednesday, 9 January, 2013 – 18:00 to 19:00
  • Lewisham Civic Suite Monday, 28 January, 2013 – 18:00 to 19:00
  • Merton Council Chamber Tuesday, 26 February, 2013 – 18:00 to 19:00
  • Newham Stratford Old Town Hall Monday, 11 February, 2013 – 18:00 to 19:00
  • Redbridge Redbridge Town Hall Monday, 11 February, 2013 – 20:00 to 21:00
  • Richmond upon Thames Clarendon Hall Wednesday, 27 February, 2013 – 20:00 to 21:00
  • Southwark City Hall Wednesday, 9 January, 2013 – 20:00 to 21:00
  • Sutton Secombe Theatre Auditorium Tuesday, 12 February, 2013 – 18:00 to 19:00
  • Tower Hamlets Skeel Lecture Theatre Thursday, 24 January, 2013 – 20:00 to 21:00
  • Waltham Forest Waltham Forest Assembly Hall Wednesday, 20 February, 2013 – 18:00 to 19:00
  • Wandsworth Public Halls Tuesday, 26 February, 2013 – 20:00 to 21:00
  • Westminster Salvation Army Thursday, 31 January, 2013 – 17:00 to 18:00

The first roadshows are on 9 January (Lambeth and Southwark) and the last (for everyone at City Hall), is on 28 February.

Prison | play by Charlie Ryder on 20 November

Charlie Ryder is a familiar face at LBFN meetings.  Over the years, we have benefited from Charlie’s sincere and challenging reflections from his work at Wormwood Scrubs, most recently at the Multi Faith Spaces event and notably during our wide-ranging discussion after last summer’s riots.

He is a puppeteer, actor and director, and is giving a rare and honest one-man play portraying an insight into the prison system, putting a face to what is often the faceless idea of “the prisoner”.

In October 1993, Charlie Ryder took part in a violent protest to shut down the BNP headquarters in Welling, South East London. He was arrested and sent to prison for 16 months. While in prison, he received a letter of support from a British Holocaust survivor, Leon Greenman. Charlie kept this letter in a scrapbook with poetry and artwork to record his time inside. In 2007, Charlie brought the scrapbook to life and turned his experience into a one man play using puppets, masks, physical theatre, dance and silence. The play’s aim is to question people’s perceptions of prison and prisoners.

At the Greencoat event, the play will be followed by a clip from the “Stories of Healing” film, which Charlie is currently developing. The film combines interviews and collaborations with puppeteers to share stories of people who use art to heal from trauma. This will be followed by a guest speaker who is one of the survivors of trauma featured in Charlie’s film.

Finally, a 3 panel Talkback session will be chaired by Anita Amendra, Project Manager Sustainable Communities. The panel will consist of the folowing: Michael Kavanagh Acting Head of Prison Chaplaincy, Charlie Ryder and Andrew Hillas from London Probation Trust.

Venue: Initiatives of Change UK, 24 Greencoat Place, Victoria, London SW1P 1RD
Refreshments from 6.30pm; performance at 7.00pm; ending 9pm.
RSVP to:  Tel: 020 7798 6000
Entry is free but there will be a collection for expenses.  Download the flyer.

Security for the London 2012 Games

From the BBC news website.

I have been in touch with our Home Office contacts regarding changes in security for the Olympic and Paralympic Games.

The concern many of us had earlier in the year was that private security guards would not have the local knowledge nor the training to carry out security duties satisfactorily – they might not be able to ‘read’ a situation as well as local police officers and would not necessarily know about religious customs and clothing.  We were reassured that security guards would be adequately trained and the London 2012 Games would be ‘blue’ – in other words, policed by police officers rather than other personnel.

Now that G4S has been unable to supply sufficient security guards, you will have seen in the news that the armed forces will be filling the gap.  I believe this applies only to venue security, although the areas around the various venues may also be affected.

Asst Chief Inspector Tom Wingate of the Olympic Policing Coordination Team, who has attended our meetings and conducted briefings at Scotland Yard, kindly sent me the Home Secretary’s statement last week (which you can download here), along with a further statement:

This is not about policing the streets of London but of venue security.  The assurance process that the Home Office has put in place provides robust and effective scrutiny of security planning, including venue security.

  • The process also ensures that the challenges which can be expected in an operation of this magnitude and size are being identified and addressed ahead of the Games.
  • Security plans have also been tested thoroughly, and while we are confident that all our partners, including G4S, will deliver a safe and secure Games, we are not complacent and will leave nothing to chance.
  • Venue security is being delivered by LOCOG (as events organiser), G4S and the military. The Home Office is vigorously holding these parties to account for successful delivery.
  • This is a huge operation to protect more that 100 venues. Delivering it is a big challenge.
  • Tried and tested contingency plans involving the deployment of military personnel are also in place to ensure the safety of Olympic venues.

It’s clear that the government and LOCOG want to ensure that London is safe and that Londoners will not be policed by the military, but it looks as though the armed forces will be asked to conduct security checks.  Tom assures me that he will let us know as soon as operational details have been decided.  He has also confirmed that none of the military drafted in for these purposes will be armed.

Let me know if you have any concerns or can offer advice to those responsible for training the military personnel in their new roles.  We are also in touch with British Transport Police, which polices the tube and railway network.

European Network on Religion and Belief – Brussels May 2012

Walking Madou – the entrance to a no-car zone in Brussels where children play on the street.  Several enorb participants stayed overnight at the nearby Institute of Cultural Affairs.

People from over 50 organisations gathered from across Europe yesterday and today in Brussels for mutual understanding and shared action.  Some were from religious traditions, some were from belief*/non-confessional/convictional/humanist/philosophical traditions.

A round table meeting was held at the EU Parliament with Vice-President Laszlo Surjan.  We discussed the contribution of religious and non-religious communities to overcoming discrimination, violence and extremism in Europe.

Several LBFN members had made suggestions for our contribution on moving from anger and violence to dialogue and positive action: I included the aftermath of 7/7 and the shooting of Jean-Charles de Menezes, Hate Crime Forums, responses to the protests against Harrow Mosque’s new minaret and the role of women.  Thank you to everyone who was in touch about this.

Here are some photos of the event.

Vice-President Laszlo Surjan (third from left) at enorb’s round table at the EU Parliament, with (l-r) Melissa Sonnino (CEJI), Jackie Goymour (Women’s Interfaith Network & LBFN) and Alan Murray (President of enorb).

Harjinder Singh (Sangat Sahib Gurudwara) and Martin Gurvich (Hindu Forum Europe – and enorb’s treasurer).

Catriona Robertson (Convener, LBFN, centre) speaking on how local communities move from violence to positive action, with Yolande Iliano (Chair, Religions for Peace – Europe, left) and Karen Walkden (LBFN, right). Thanks to Melissa Sonnino for the photo.

Georges Lienard (G3i) addressing the round table on Secular European Traditions: what contribution to European security?

Alan Murray (AFAN) and Dennis de Jong MEP.  Dennis spoke at today’s meeting.  He has brought together an all-party group of MEPs to support freedom of religion and belief – whatever your outlook on life, he said, religious or otherwise, you need the opportunity to reflect on it. The group is also in touch with the External Action Service, noting that it was slow to respond to the Arab Spring last year.

Amarjit Kaur (United Sikhs Belgium) who described the difficulties facing Sikh schoolchildren in Belgium in relation to religious dress.

Augustine Booth-Clibborn (Inter Faith Network UK) and Abdullah Faliq (The Cordoba Foundation)

Helene Egnell (Centre for Inter Faith Dialogue in the Diocese of Stockholm) and Hannah Wallace (consultant with the Tony Blair Faith Foundation).

Karim Chemlal (Federation of Islamic Organisations in Europe), Alan Murray (All Faiths and None) and Gérard Delfau (Egalité-Laïcité- Europe).

Sayed Ali Abbas (Majlis Ulema Europe), Hannah Wallace, Catriona Robertson and Tinci Singh (United Sikhs).

Exchanges between enorb member groups across Europe was a popular idea.  There’s no substitute for visiting a local network in another country to learn about the different contexts and challenges – and in return, welcoming them to, for example, London.

It was inspiring to meet so many practitioners from across Europe who are building communities of trust in their own countries and who are committed to working with each other on a European level.

The enorb website is now live and will carry photos and reports of the Brussels meeting soon.

*The words we use to describe each other haven’t found consensus yet – a Buddhist participant reminded us that many Buddhists are both religious and non-confessional.

Meeting at European Parliament

Some of us will be in Brussels next Tuesday and Wednesday.

This event is the first public seminar organised by ENORB, a new European network combating discrimination and prejudice and promoting mutual understanding and harmony in the field of Religion and Belief.

As you know, LBFN has been one of the networks which has been involved in creating ENORB from the start.   We hope it will provide a good way for practitioners across Europe to be in touch, just as we do in LBFN across London.  The new network includes both religious/multifaith groups and also humanist and philosophical organisations, all working together to promote understanding, to combat discrimination and to play a part in EU policy.

LBFN has a couple of minutes to say something about “Legitimate disagreement: moving from anger/violence towards dialogue and positive action?” at the EU Parliament.  Please let me know if you would like me to mention something in particular.  I am planning to say a few words about the aftermath of the London bombs in 2005, but I could include other examples, too.

There will be a morning of workshops the following day.  Let me know your views on what the priorities for the new network should be for the coming year.

ENORB Round Table & Reception in Brussels

Come & meet people from across Europe who are doing the kinds of thing LBFN members do – building trust across different religions and beliefs, combating discrimination and prejudice, working locally and with public sector partners for the common good.

LBFN has been actively making links across Europe for a few years and has been part of the European Network on Religion and Belief development group from the start.  We’ve held a couple of gatherings in London – the last at Europe House in Westminster.

The topic for ENORB’s first meeting at the EU Parliament on 29th May is Security in Europe: the contribution of Europe’s diversity of religions, humanist and philosophical traditions to overcoming discrimination, violence and extremism.  The EU Parliament Vice President László Surján will be with us.

You’ll find more info and details of how to apply here ENORB Roundtable & Reception Brussels and the invitation is here ENORB Invitation to Brussels.

The round table has limited places, but the evening reception and workshops the following day will be able to accommodate many more.  Eurostar tickets are cheaper if you book well in advance . .

There’s a short piece ‘Making faith matter in the EU’ in the Economic and Social Research Council’s Britain in 2012 (I can’t find it online, but it’s at newsagents).