Friday, June 25, 2010

Day-Mer’s 21st Annual Cultural and Arts Festival- Sunday, 4 July @ Clissold Park

The activities of our 21st Festival have kicked off after a launch last week, and I am writing to provide information about the activities of our festival. Just as every year, the festival features activities for almost all sections of the community, with the major activity of our festival, the traditional Park Festival due to take place on Sunday, 4 July at Clissold Park.

Our multi-cultural festival is now the longest running festival in the borough and in the Turkish and Kurdish community. Just as every year, our festival activities once again brought to the fore strong messages of community solidarity and the need to create conditions in which the migrant communities and the rest of the society to work and live together.

At this year’s Park Festival, we will host the prominent Kurdish musician, Mikail Aslan, who have made a name for himself with his original synthesis of the traditional and contemporary Kurdish and Turkish music. Along with Mikail Aslan and his band, we will have Yeni Türkü, a band that has been bringing together Mediterranean and Anatolian melodies successfully over the last three decades, bringing forward the diversity of Anatolian culture. The programme of the event includes other performances bringing their own flavour of music for peace, unity and a better world for all. On the day of the park festival, there will also be stalls from various organisations giving out information, bookstalls and, of course, traditional food and drinks.

We would like to take this opportunity to invite you to the activities of the festival and the park celebration on Sunday, 4 July. Please see the attached leaflet for a detailed programme of the day.

Thank you very much for your time and hope to see you at festival activities.

In Solidarity,

Taylan Sahbaz

Centre Coordinator

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Hackney Unites its residents!

On Saturday 5 June 2010 some four hundred Hackney residents attended Stoke Newington School as part of the Hackney Unites Celebrate Hackney! Event.

Hackney Unites is a local group with members coming from the diverse range of community sectors. People have dedicated their time and effort to the project since October last year.

The aim of the event was to celebrate Hackney and everything the borough has achieved to date, while at the same time act as a catalyst to link local businesses and community organisations together so that they could work in the interest of local people.

The day was a success with stalls occupied by a range of community based businesses and voluntary organisations such as Open University, Hackney Migrant Centre, HCVS and the Community Empowerment Network. A range of food was on sale – sponsored by local business. One of the major highlights was the first ‘Hackney shorts film festival’ – so aptly named to reflect the range of short films shown throughout the day.

There were some fifteen workshops - all looking at issues that affect Hackney residents, community groups and businesses. The penultimate session on the day covered five key topics: young people and their needs, the struggles against racism and the need to build an effective campaign, the wider concerns with peace and war, community organisation and the need to work collaboratively with other community groups and the workers advice sessions – where community members could obtain basic advice on how to enforce their employment rights in the work place.

Under the coalition Conservative/Lib Dem government there are likely to be major changes to community groups with budget cuts affecting the services they provide. Speaker Andy Benson from the National Coalition for Independence Action detailed some of the impacts these changes may have, such as government becoming directly involved in organisations – affecting their autonomy and their ability to be impartial in the community work they do. Maurice Glassman discussed the work of London Citizens, a local group. Wendy Pettifor galloped though the recent cost cutting measures within the Law Society with the net effect that people in need of legal advice and support are unable to access it. Cathy Reay from Hackney Housing Group explained how their actions are about empowering individual tenants to engage with the processes to improve the quality of their accommodation. Finally Liz Hughes from Haggerston Pool Community Trust detailed their on going battle with the Hackney Council to keep a swimming pool within their local community.

The closing session was facilitated by John Page, secetary of Hackney Unites where initial feedback was extremely positive on the day’s events. I came away with an awareness that the pending cuts to Hackney’s local services will have an unquantifiable impact on Hackney residents and businesses.

By Mz Lashmore

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Community Justice -A personal View by Teena Lashmore

The UK's current prison population has topped over 84,000 people. While the debate rages on about being tough on crime, little is heard of recent changes to one of the key stakeholders involved in managing crime and diverting offenders away from criminal behaviours: probation.

As of April 2010 the Probation Service became a Probation Trust. Criminal justice services will now be delivered locally - mirroring the boundaries of Local Authorities. The change is designed to allow Probation to 'commission services' with other public and/or third sector organisations or voluntary agencies such as educational services and training providers. Links that help reduce further offending.

For people in Hackney, these fundamental changes in the criminal justice process create the possibility of a shift of emphasis towards community justice. This change has seen little political debate, or discussion on what it means (or could mean) for our communities. Anti-social and criminal behavior affects local communities and it is hoped that these changes in the Probation service will ensure offenders sentenced to community sentences will 'pay-back' locally to their communities for their offending.

If these changes are to be successful then the communities of Hackney need to participate in the process; for example, nominating meaningful and useful projects for offenders to undertake as part of their punishment. Meanwhile, community groups that seek to divert young people from offending will need to gear up for the inevitable changes in funding arrangements.

As communities we will need to find ways to participate in local crime reduction partnerships so that the crime strategy for Hackney is focused locally. We can achieve different outcomes by diverting young people away from criminal behavior by breaking the patterns that exist in poor education, social exclusion, lack of employment and training and offending.

Community and restorative justice can be an effective way of reducing reoffending. Perhaps we in Hackney need to discuss how our communities play a role in ensuring that the policies that are adopted are the ones that work for Hackney rather than being imposed by 'opinion formers' elsewhere.