Welcome to JAN Trust Adil Ray and Saliha Mahmood-Ahmed!

JAN Trust is delighted to welcome on board two new ambassadors this year, Adil Ray OBE and Saliha Mahmood-Ahmed!

 

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Photo credit: Nick James

Adil Ray OBE

Adil is best known as the star and creator of the hit BBC1 sitcom Citizen Khan. After five series, the show has become one of Britain’s much-loved sitcoms and is now broadcast worldwide including North America, Canada, Australia, India, the Middle East and Africa. In 2016, the show hit the road with a Citizen Khan Arena tour playing at Wembley, the O2 and the Genting Arena, Birmingham. Adil also released his first book – Citizen Khan’s Guide to Britain.

To date, Adil has received five Royal Television Society Awards for his work, including Best Comedy Programme and Best Comedy Performance as well as Best TV Character at the Asian Media Awards.

Adil is also a passionate documentary maker. In 2010, he presented the acclaimed BBC3 documentary Exposed: Groomed for Sex. He received praise for the way in which he tackled the controversial issue of young girls being groomed by some Pakistani men, creating a thought provoking and brave documentary and picking up a Royal Television Society Award for Best Current Affairs.

You may have also seen Adil on ‘The One Show’, ‘Have I Got News For You’ and has also appeared on ‘Who Do You Think You Are’ (tracing his roots to Ugandan royalty) ‘Room 101’, ‘Would I Lie To You?’ and ‘Pointless’. However, he would rather not talk about his appearance on The Crystal Maze for Stand Up To Cancer celebrity special as he currently holds the fastest record for getting locked in a Crystal Maze cell, which is less than 30 seconds.

In 2016, Adil was honoured in the Queens Birthday List awarded Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire for services to media and broadcasting.

He can currently be seen presenting Good Morning Britain for ITV.

 

Saliha - UNBRANDED CROPPED

Saliha Mahmood-Ahmed

Having been a passionate home cook all her life, Saliha battled 64 contestants in front of 6 million viewers to become the winner of MasterChef 2017.

A proud mother and wife, Saliha also works as a junior doctor in North West London, specialising in Gastroenterology. Balancing a life in food and medicine, Saliha has enjoyed appearing at various food festivals and shows across the country since her time on MasterChef.  She has also written her debut cookbook KHAZANA published by Hodder & Stoughton in September 2018.

In her book Saliha builds upon her reputation for recreating traditional South East Asian food in a modern and exciting way.

“Saliha is a class act. She’s walked in here and taken her food culture apart and put it back together in a modern and very exciting way. She always does something a little bit extra – something which always surprises us”. (John Torode, MasterChef judge)

Saliha has expressed her support for JAN Trust:

The work that the JAN trust are doing with young people from BAMER backgrounds is not just truly outstanding, but absolutely essential in the current socio political climate. The responsive, grassroots approach with the organisation takes to tackle key issues affecting the community separates the work the JAN trust does apart from other charities. The trust faces immense barriers whilst helping often marginalised and disadvantaged communities. This makes the JAN trust one of the most important NGO’s in the country today, deserving of our support and praise.

Thank you Adil and Saliha, we are extremely proud to have you both as ambassadors and are excited to work with you to support vulnerable women!

JAN Trust is a BAMER women’s NGO which has been working to support women for 30 years now! To read about all of JAN Trust’s ambassadors, please click here.

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JAN Trust wins Education and Training Charity of the Year

10 June 2019

JAN Trust is delighted to announce we have won one of the most prestigious awards in the charity sector – the Education and Training Charity of the Year 2019!

Sandra Kelly, Finance Director, Canals & River Trust

The Charity Awards is Civil Society Media’s annual awards programme held to identify, recognise and reward those organisations doing exceptional work in all areas of charitable activity. The awards were announced at a black tie dinner at the Tower of London on 5th June where a shortlist of 28 charities had been selected across 10 categories by an independent panel of sector leaders. The judges assess each entry against their Hallmarks of Excellence – attributes that should be present in any successful project.

The evening was hosted by the Rev Richard Coles, who was joined by celebrities, representatives of the shortlisted charities and leaders from Britain’s best known charities.

JAN Trust’s Award, in the Education and training category, recognises our pioneering Another Way Forward project. This initiative was supported by the Institute for Strategic Dialogue and Google.org to empower young women against extremism. JAN Trust aimed to combat the root causes that lead to young women and girls being radicalised, including racism, hate crime and marginalisation, and to develop them into ambassadors against extremism. This is one of the first projects of its kind that encourages young people themselves to lead the narrative – an important factor in its success.

charity awards winner

Awards judge, Lynne Berry OBE said:

“The work of JAN Trust is incredibly timely and has been very effective at raising young women’s awareness of grooming and radicalisation”

 

Cathy Phelan Watkins said it was highly innovative and had achieved enormous reach, with over a million views of the campaign videos.

 

Chris Michaels said the project was a great example of a charity that had identified a very current social problem and decided to quickly create a solution that attempts to change the narrative.

“They did that extremely well, working at close quarters with those identified as being at risk.”

 

He also described the work as “extremely potent” and said raising awareness among this target group of young women laid good foundations for reducing the impact of extremism.

 

Sajda Mughal OBE, CEO of JAN Trust said:

“To receive such a prestigious award at the Charity Awards 2019 is a true honour. My team and I are incredibly proud of our AWF project and the amazing impact it has made. As an organisation, we are committed to innovating projects that effectively counter extremism and this award has shown that we have achieved this. A huge thank you goes out to the JAN Trust staff, volunteers, trustees, patrons and ambassadors! I would also like to thank the panel of judges at the Charity Awards for recognising the importance of our work, along with ISD and Google who supported the project – we are passionate about countering extremism and creating a safer and more inclusive society.”

 

Nazir Afzal OBE, Former Chief Prosecutor and Patron of JAN Trust has also commented on this achievement:

 

“JAN Trust has won in the Education and Training category at the Charity Awards 2019. This is a really impressive achievement and I congratulate Sajda and her team for proving yet again what an effective grassroots organisation JAN Trust is. JAN Trust has worked to educate, train and empower marginalised BAMER women and young people for 30 years now, so to be recognised in this category is especially fitting. Their Another Way Forward project showcased how successful grassroots NGOs like JAN Trust can be within counter-extremism efforts; the impact and reach of AWF was really remarkable. It is troubling that the government had withdrawn funding for JAN Trust’s counter-terrorism work, especially in light of multiple awards recognising how effective their contributions in this area are. Work like this needs support as it is crucial that JAN Trust can continue serving the communities of the UK.”

 

Last year, the Home Office unceremoniously withdrew funding for another one of JAN Trust’s projects, Web Guardians™. This programme pioneered within counter -terrorism efforts 10 years ago by educating and empowering women and mothers to prevent and tackle online extremism, building community resilience. BAME organisations are notoriously underfunded in all areas, so this news was incredibly disheartening and left JAN Trust’s grassroots work at risk. However, JAN Trust persevered and with the support of The Institute for Strategic Dialogue and Google.org they have been able to execute another innovative project.

This award comes during JAN Trust’s 30th anniversary as an organisation and is the third notable recognition the team have had recently. In December 2018, JAN Trust also won ‘Highly Commended’ in ‘Community Project of the Year’ and JAN Trust’s CEO Sajda Mughal OBE won ‘Campaigner of the Year’ at the 2018 European Diversity Awards.

 

JAN Trust would like to thank the judging panel at the Charity Awards, Google.org, The Institute for Strategic Dialogue, JAN Trust’s Patrons, Trustees, Ambassadors, Staff and Volunteers. The team would also like to thank our users and to those who have supported our charity’s work for the last 30 years. We would not be able to continue our work in encouraging, educating and empowering women and young people without you!

 

Visit the Charity Awards website to find out more about JAN Trust’s award

Visit the Another Way Forward website to find out more about this award-winning project and to watch the AWF campaign videos

Find out how you can support the work JAN Trust does here.

Posted in Active citizenship, Advocacy, british, Campaign, Campaigning, Citizenship, Crime, Daesh, discrimination, Diversity, Education, Ethnic Minorities, Extremism, Far right, girls, google, Hate Crime, Inclusion, ISIS, islamophobia, JAN Trust, Muslim women, Online abuse, Online hate, Racism, Radicalisaton, Representation, Sajda Mughal, Society, Terrorism, Uncategorized, women | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Racist and Religious Hate Crimes on the Rise in London – will this worrying trend end?

Islamophobic hate crimes in March were the highest they’ve been in a year, following shootings in two Christchurch mosques.

 Embed from Getty Images

The news of the horrific shootings in two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand on 15th March in which fifty people died has fueled a spike in Islamophobic hate crimes in London. The Metropolitan Police recorded 1630 hate offences in March, of which 156 were Islamophobic. This is almost double the number of Islamophobic hate crimes recorded in February, and the rise has been attributed to reactions to the shootings in New Zealand.  Meanwhile, there are reports that anti-Muslim hate has increased six-fold

It is upsetting that an attack in which Muslims were the victims has spiked further violence towards Muslims. However, we have warned about the rise in far-right extremism and how these crimes embolden and inspire others to carry out copy-cat attacks. The events in Christchurch made it very clear that Islamophobia is alive and well, and have served as a stark and unpleasant reminder of its presence here, too.

Hate Crime in Public Spaces

One concerning element of these racist or religious hate crimes is the fact that often, the crimes take place in public, visible spaces. Several reports of abuse are from experiences of street harassment or attacks on public transport. The BBC reports a man being subject to racist mocking on a tube train and a woman having her hijab pulled off by someone at a train station. The fact that perpetrators of hate crimes are confident enough and able to harass and abuse people in public spaces is worrying. Why are people so unashamed or unconcerned about the consequences of their actions?

In British society there tends to be an over-concern with regards to respecting the privacy of others, to the extent that bystanders do not feel able to help in problematic situations as they are ‘minding their own business’ and do not help someone in need of support.

One way you can lend support to someone who is being verbally abused is simply to stand or sit near them so they do not feel totally alone. You could even ask them for directions, or engage them in other unrelated conversation to divert from the intentions of their harasser. Safety is important: an aggressive or confrontational approach may aggravate the situation and put you or the victim in danger. But there are ways in which you can be an active bystander; there is safety in numbers, and by standing with someone who is alone, you may be able to improve the situation. You can also report incidents of hate crime to the relevant authorities, or alert someone who can help, for example transport staff that may be nearby.

Another important way of tackling hate crime starts at a much more foundational level; education about Islamophobia and other forms of hate crime and prejudice needs to be effectively delivered to people from a young age. The more we open up the conversation about hate crime, the more equipped we will be as a society to prevent and deal with attacks and harassment.

Education is one of the main tools we use here at JAN Trust to tackle hate crime and discrimination. Despite the rising levels of hate crime in our city, we are not discouraged and continue to spread the word and encourage young people to learn about it. Our Another Way Forward programme works with local young people to teach them the signs of radicalisation, far-right movements and Islamophobia, equipping them with the knowledge they need to help protect their communities from harm. Our SAFE school sessions also work to educate young people about the risks of hateful ideology..

JAN Trust is turning 30 this year! Click here to find out how you can celebrate with us by helping support our work in the fight against hate crime and discrimination.

Posted in Active citizenship, Advocacy, Campaign, Campaigning, Citizenship, Crime, discrimination, Diversity, Education, Ethnic Minorities, Extremism, Far right, Hate Crime, Inclusion, International, International Affairs, Islam, islamophobia, London, Muslim, Muslim women, Online abuse, Online hate, Politics, Prime Minister, Racism, Radicalisaton, Society, Terrorism, Uncategorized, Violence | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Sri Lanka Attacks: Are Intelligence Services Failing Us?

The world is reeling after the terrorist attacks across Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday, and it seems authorities had been alerted to threats weeks before.

On Sunday 21st April 2019, several explosive devices were set off in churches and hotels across Sri Lanka. Tragically, at least 250 people were killed, and several more injured. Cabinet spokesman and health minister Rajitha Senaratne has named a local Islamic extremist fringe group National Tawheed Jamath, responsible for the attacks.

As more information about the attacks has unfolded, it has become clear that they were influenced and organised by a larger organisation to have caused so much harm. Many have suggested there must have been influence from outside of the country itself to carry out such attacks. IS have claimed responsibility, but their claims are not always truthful and UK officials think it is highly unlikely IS were involved. However, the influence of IS is clear with a video emerging of the group pledging allegiance to the terrorist organisation.

Deeply concerning information has now been released suggesting that the intelligence services in Sri Lanka may have actually been forewarned of the terrorist attacks. A document sent to the Sri Lankan police chief earlier in April named the group National Tawheed Jamath (NTJ) and their leader in a warning of a planned attack on churches and the Indian High Commission in Sri Lanka. While the provider of this information has not been named, it has been suggested that some intelligence may have come from the Indian Foreign Intelligence Service, which has agents placed in Islamic extremist groups. Rajitha Senaratne has said that there was information given to authorities from as early as the 4th of April, and that on 9th April the Chief of National Intelligence wrote a letter with a list of names from the NTJ. The cabinet spokesman added his concerns that the Prime Minister had not been made aware of the threats. Furthermore, the Sri Lankan police chief, Pujith Jayasundara, has resigned over the bombings, demonstrating the severity of the intelligence forces’ failures.

Further to warnings about specific attacks, the alleged ‘ringleader’, Zahran Hashim, was known as an influential radical extremist speaker. Some Muslim communities in Sri Lanka have now said that they had warned the authorities about Hashim’s calls for violence multiple times before, and he had been banned from speaking by some groups due to his severe views. Hashim had been in hiding for 2 years before the attack after police tried to arrest him in 2017 surrounding violence between ideologically opposed Muslim groups. Police say they had not been able to keep track of him in this period.

The Role of Social Media

Hashim had gained a following on YouTube and other social media platforms, posting videos advocating violence against non-Muslims. Hilmy Ahamed, vice-president of the Sri Lanka Muslim Council, said he had been reported due to social media output, including once in January this year, but security services had not acted on the information.

This is very worrying on two accounts. Firstly, it brings into question the responsibilities of social media in preventing hate crime and extremism. Facebook have previously admitted that their platform had been used to incite and spread violence in Myanmar, and they struggled to stop the dissemination and livestreaming of footage from the Christchurch attacks in March this year. This is a pertinent topic in the UK at the moment due to the government’s announcement of measures to increase safety online. Social media firms will be held to a compulsory duty of care to protect their users from content that incites violence, among other threats. It is shocking to think that Hashim was able to post multiple YouTube videos that called for violence to non-Muslims. The fact that such dangerous individuals and groups have access to this level of publicity needs serious attention from authorities.

The second concerning factor about the situation with Zahran Hashim is that his online presence was known to so many people. The public nature of social media, and particularly YouTube, suggests that serious oversights have been made by intelligence services in Sri Lanka to have not kept a closer eye on Hashim’s online behaviour.

Another of the bombers, Abdul Latif Jamil Mohammed, is known to have lived in the UK and Australia. While UK officials think it is unlikely he would have been radicalised in the UK as he lived here only briefly 12 years ago, it does bring up the question of whether the country, and the world over, is doing enough to protect Muslims from being groomed and radicalised.

Sri Lanka’s Social Media Ban

Sri Lanka’s government decided to temporarily block social media. This drastic move shows the importance of social media in the story. The government feared the spread of misinformation or violent messages, and has found it appropriate to take this action to prevent further damage from taking place.

The government and intelligence services’ failure to spot the signs of extremism online is disturbing. Our Web Guardians ™ programme at JAN Trust involves working with women and mothers to prevent and tackle online radicalisation in our community. This vital grassroots work can save families from extremism, and we recognise the potential for social media to cause harm and spread violence in society. We are deeply saddened by the attacks in Sri Lanka, and our thoughts are with those affected at this time.

We have been working within our community for 30 years now, find out how you can help support our cause here.

Posted in Daesh, Extremism, International, International Affairs, ISIS, JAN Trust, radicalisation, Radicalisaton, Uncategorized, Violence | Tagged , , , , , , , , , ,

THE POWER OF EDUCATION: 30 Years of Supporting Women’s Learning

After thirty years of hard work and service to the community, here at JAN Trust we really value commitment to education. The courses we provide locally give women the tools they need to integrate in society and keep themselves and their communities safe. Here are just some examples of how we use education to empower women at a grassroots level.

Combatting Extremism

Talking about extremism can be difficult. Often, we are scared of broaching the issue, or feel too awkward ourselves to talk about such a serious and sensitive topic. However, it is crucial to do so; raising awareness and encouraging local people to become part of the solution is so important when tackling the threat of terrorism.

JAN Trust CEO Sajda Mughal OBE survived the 7/7 tube bombings and since then has dedicated herself to the fight against extremism and radicalisation. Here at JAN Trust we are also intent on combatting the Islamophobia that is often associated with backlash from terrorist incidents. One of our main tools to achieve these goals is education, which is why we work with mothers and young people in the community.

Having listened to the Muslim women who already used our services for many years, we were able to identify their needs in terms of understanding and preventing online extremism. Our Web Guardians™ programme, launched in 2010, empowers Muslim women and mothers to prevent and tackle online extremism,  building community resilience. By opening up the conversation and including women within counter-terrorism efforts, education plays a key role in community action. This is just one example of how JAN Trust uses education to empower women.

“I now know the signs of what we should be looking out for. We can stop our children being radicalised.” – Web Guardians™ service user

IT For Beginners

IT class

As well as tackling extremism, our educational programmes surrounding technology and the internet are also very valuable for individuals, building confidence and vital digital literacy skills. Our IT For Beginners training is for those who have very little experience using computers, and want to develop and learn new skills. We cultivate a non-pressurised, informal environment to encourage IT learning.

At JAN Trust, we help women navigate modern technology so they are able to live independently and become active citizens.

English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL)

It can be very isolating living in an unfamiliar country, and often women do not have the same opportunities to access to education as their male counterparts. The high-profile case of Malala Yousafzai, who was shot by the Taliban in Pakistan for trying to go to school, has raised awareness of the difficulties faced by women growing up in areas where seeking education is dangerous and considered to be inappropriate for girls. However, Malala certainly isn’t the only girl to have been denied the freedom to go to school; many women living in the UK today have not had a chance to learn, particularly to learn English, and this impacts their daily lives.

At JAN Trust we’re aware of the struggle many women in London face when they have not had the opportunity to learn the English language. That’s why we provide free English courses for speakers of other languages at all levels. We know how hard it is to learn a new language, and how isolating it can be when you can’t make yourself understood to others.

English language skills aren’t just a practical need. Women who have taken part in our courses have found that they’re not only able to speak English with more ease, but that their confidence has improved, and they have been able socialise and become part of the community:

“Before I came to JAN Trust I could not speak English and lacked confidence. I am now able to communicate in English and have gained so much confidence. I have also made many friends which has increased my social circle and well-being.” – Leila, Haringey

Fashion and Design Classes

Our fashion and design courses teach women the skills to make clothes and other accessories. Through these classes they can learn to use different kinds of sewing machinery as well as hand-sewn work. We offer both accredited and non-accredited courses, but it is not just the qualifications that count; the women who attend our courses get to meet new people in the community, socialise, and actually make new things to wear and use. The self-confidence earned when learning new skills is also invaluable, and we love to see women thriving in this educational environment.

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Find out how you can help to support women’s education here!

Posted in Education, Inclusion, JAN Trust, London, sewing and fashion, Society, Uncategorized, women | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Austerity cuts linked to rising youth knife crime

Current focus on addressing knife crime fails to address its root causes – a more complex, grassroots approach is needed

London has been facing a surge in knife crime recently, with shocking statistics revealing that between 2017 and 2018, a person was stabbed to death on average every four days.

In response to this worrying phenomenon, the government has upped its efforts to curb knife crime and youth violence by both increasing stop-and-search powers of the police force as well as holding teachers and healthcare workers responsible for failure to recognise warning signs. However, both these policies are misguided as they fail to directly tackle the root cause of the issue and put increased responsibilities on already-strained individuals and groups without giving them the appropriate support they need to carry out such responsibilities.

At the start of this month, the Home Secretary Sajid Javid announced at a knife crime summit that the government will make it easier for officers to invoke a section 60 order, enabling them to stop and search any individual in a particular area as long as they believe serious violence is imminent. Critics have argued that stop-and-search powers are frequently misused and tend to disproportionately target black men. Not only does this undermine community cohesion and trust, it appears to have little effectiveness in reducing crime rates. For example, the Metropolitan police had already increased their use of stop-and-search in 2018 with little impact.

In addition, increasing the stop-and-search powers of the police force merely serves to pile additional responsibility on “already cash-strapped public services,” argues Allegra Stratton, ITV National News Editor. This is a worrying trend in the efforts to address knife crime. As mentioned, another example of a policy set in this direction is that of increasing scrutiny of teachers and health workers, and holding them responsible for knife crime. Home Secretary Sajid Javid believes this policy will help spot the warning signs of knife crime, such as troubling behaviour or conflict at work or school.

However, it is rather disingenuous to believe that teachers and health workers are not already aware of their safeguarding responsibilities and to suggest that they may actually be enabling knife crime. On the contrary, for instance, schools have plenty of strong safeguarding practices in place. However, schools often lack the resources to deal with such issues effectively after they have been identified due to austerity cuts to social services like pastoral support, special needs teachers and school counsellors.

Austerity measures and budget cuts have severely restrained public services, and the link between these cuts and rising crime rates is not unfounded. For example, there appears to be a link between cuts to police services and rising crime rates. Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police Service, Cressida Dick, has argued that there has been an increase in demand for policing accompanied by a fall in police officer numbers, which she believes, is responsible for escalating crime rates. Indeed, the number of police officers in England and Wales has plummeted by over 20,000 since 2010.

It is certainly promising to observe that the Home Secretary has understood the need for greater funds for the police force. In a path that appears to clash with the Prime Minister Theresa May, Sajid Javid has agreed to push for an emergency grant of at least £15m to fund a short-term increase in officers to fight knife crime. However, while improving enforcement of justice is an important part of addressing knife crime, more specialised and effective policing is needed to ease community distrust that arises from racial profiling. Not only this. but relying on enforcement alone to solve this problem is ineffective, asour CEO Sajda Mughal OBE has  pointed out.

Instead, what is needed is a multi-faceted approach that gets at the heart of the disenfranchisement that many youth experience. The Safeguarding Children and Young People in Education from Knife Crime report published in 2019 has found that the common factor among students who carry bladed objects into school is their vulnerability. For example, these children are often found to have experienced poverty, abuse, neglect and may be living in broken or troubled families. Additionally, BAME youth are at greater risk, for they are also likely to have experienced social exclusion related to their race or socio-economic background.

This is the reason Sajda believes it is vital to support community services and youth projects. Many youth workers have argued that cuts to important youth programmes, for example, have had the outcome of leaving few safe places for children to spend their time outside school hours. Focusing on such services, as opposed to a merely justice-driven strategy, has proved effective in addressing youth violence in Scotland and Sajda believes these lessons can be applied here in London as well. In order for that to occur, she believes it is important to fund voluntary organisations that have “trusting relationships with families in affected communities” and operate closely at the grassroots level.

Unfortunately, it appears the government fails to be consulting these very individuals and families. In light of the recent knife crime summit, British prosecutor Nazir Afzal OBE pointed out that those in attendance included ministers, community leaders, agencies and experts, yet the summit lacked the voices of victims and their families, community groups, the police force, teachers and NHS professionals.

As a charity that has been working closely with BAME women on the grassroots level for 30 years, JAN Trust strongly believes in the effectiveness of grassroots efforts in tackling complex, multi-faceted societal issues such as youth violence and knife crime. These issues cannot be addressed by single entities, and instead call for everyone in all levels of society – the police, health services, youth services, welfare services, housing services, local communities, families and even social media companies – to work tirelessly to address them.

This can only be done if the government offers support to these groups rather than heaping responsibility on them in the midst of budget cuts and watching them flounder.

To read more about JAN Trust’s grassroots work to address youth violence, extremism and gender-based violence, visit www.jantrust.org.

Posted in Crime, Education, knife crime, London, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

30 years of JAN Trust – What’s Changed?

This year we celebrate our 30th Anniversary and thought this would be a perfect opportunity on how our work has developed over the past 30 years.

The vision that resulted in the birth of JAN Trust almost 30 years ago is one still widely shared by the charity today; to encourage, educate and empower women, building their self-confidence and allowing them to become independent and active citizens and take control of their own lives.

JAN Trusts ethos has always been to enable marginalised individuals to reintegrate with society, and improve life options for themselves, their families and the wider community. All of this was achieved through the provision of education and expert advice on the multiple barriers and issues these women were facing.

Our work tackling marginalisation and integration includes educational sessions, including the provision of ESOL, IT and Fashion & Design classes, as well a continually holding workshops to support the varying needs of our beneficiaries such as, but not limited to, employability skills, financial literacy and welfare benefits advice and support.

However over the years the JAN Trust has evolved to meet the growing demands of the community, expanding the work it does to ensure that no one is left behind, and that we cater to all the needs of our beneficiaries.

As a result not only have we expanded our work at a local level, but over the past decade we have developed programs that are delivered nationally. This involves delivering projects such as Against FGM, Against Forced Marriages , Web Guardians™  and our SAFE workshops.

Adapting our approach means that we have developed a holistic approach to tackle issues faced by our beneficiaries and this where the success of work lies. We aim to leave no stone uncovered, by fighting all drivers and providing support services to tackle and prevent and support the victims of harmful practices.

We are the only service in Haringey, and one of the few in the UK, that works in this way, providing a wide range of educational classes and support all from our centre, enabling our beneficiaries to build a rapport with the staff and other women enabling them to get all the support they need under one roof and to empower themselves and their families.

JAN Trust remains faithful to its grassroots, addressing local and national needs on an interpersonal level, bringing women and communities together and celebrating our success with those whom we exist to help.

Don’t forget to continue to follow our journey  and keep up to date with all our work!

Posted in Education, Ethnic Minorities, Inclusion, JAN Trust, London, Sajda Mughal, Uncategorized, women | Tagged , , , , , , , , ,

Should marriage age be raised to 18 to prevent forced marriages?

As it stands, the minimum age to enter into a marriage in England and Wales is sixteen years old with the consent of a parent or guardian. Campaigners are now calling for a change to this law, with UNICEF stating that marriage before the age of 18 is a fundamental violation of human rights.

MPs are currently discussing this issue, which has been championed by Conservative MP Pauline Latham. She has introduced the Marriage and Civil Partnership (Minimum Age) Bill 2017-19 Private Member’s Bill on this issue. She states:

“Marriage is a major life decision for which children are not emotionally and physically ready. Setting the minimum age of marriage at 18 provides an objective, rather than subjective, standard of maturity, which safeguards a child from being married when they are not physically, mentally or emotionally ready.”

She has also argued that instead of being a safeguard, the consent caveat ‘opens the door’ for forced marriages as parents can exert pressure on young people to marry to appease their families.

Although forced marriage has been illegal in this country since 2014, we agree that there needs to be stronger safeguards in place for children regarding this issue; especially if parents contest that the marriage was not forced. Some parents may state they ‘consent’ to a marriage of a child that they have actually coerced and sent overseas themselves. Raising the minimum age of consent for marriage to eighteen would add an extra layer of protection on top of the already existing law and would be a positive step forward to safeguard vulnerable young girls who are at risk of forced marriage.

Although changing the legal age of marriage will add some more protections, it is unfortunate that this will not solve an issue as pervasive as violence against women and girls. Forced marriage and abuse have no age limit and large numbers of women over the age of eighteen have been victims. This is a subject we have spoken out about and witnessed first-hand for many years at our centre, where women come to seek advice and guidance on such issues. This proposed bill will not stop or completely prevent the practise of forced marriage and serves as a small part of a multi-pronged approach; however, closing this legal loophole will provide more protection for vulnerable children.

Find out more about the work we do to prevent forced marriages here!

Posted in Active citizenship, Advocacy, british, Campaign, Campaigning, child marriage, Crime, Diversity, Education, Ethnic Minorities, forced marriage, Forced Marriages, girls, Lobbying, London, marriage, police, Politics, Prime Minister, Sexual Violence, Society, Violence, Violence Against Women, women | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

‘Spreading intolerance and hatred?’ How criticism of The Martyrs has missed the mark

The recent release of short film The Martyrs depicting three real-life Islamophobic incidents in the U.K by film maker Rizwan Wadan has prompted Tell Mama to call for the film’s immediate withdrawal. 

In a recent article in the Guardian, an organisation the records anti-Muslim attacks, Tell Mama, has condemned the film as ‘sensationalist’ and have made the following comments:

“This film should be withdrawn immediately. Following the Christchurch attacks, there is a lot of fear among Muslims. The Martyrs just promotes this. Many Muslims will see it and be too afraid to go out. The film is unnecessarily sensationalist. It involves excellent film-making skills, but what use is this if all you are doing is spreading more intolerance and hatred?”

“You have three very hard-hitting stories within a short film. The vast majority of cases we deal with do not involve such viciousness. At the same time, many non-Muslims stand in solidarity with us and come to the aid of Muslims. Why is this not reflected? This film does not breed confidence, it does not promote any dialogue or unity, and it can actually encourage violence if watched by the wrong person.”

As a BAME NGO working on issues such as Islamophobia, we believe that Tell Mama have unfortunately missed the mark; especially to suggest that The Martyrs is promoting fear and intolerance. The reality is that people from ethnic minority communities, especially Muslims, are already scared. They are scared based on real-life things that are actually happening, which may have happened to them, their friends or fellow Muslims around the world. Many visibly Muslim women who we have spoken to have informed us of their fear, that they have been called ‘terrorists’ or ‘letterboxes’ or physically assaulted in the street. As an organisation we have also been the target of Islamophobic hate, including vile racism and threats of arson. The goal here isn’t to spread more intolerance and hatred, it is to call attention to it, create a dialogue about the reality of the situation we find ourselves in, so we are able to alleviate it as a society. Tell Mama themselves have just reported that there has been a nearly 600% rise in Islamophobic incidents since the Christchurch terrorist attack, which is important reporting. However, could this not be conceptualised as sowing the seeds of fear as well if we apply the same line of thought? The truth of the matter is that this short film does not promote hatred, there are individuals out there already promoting hatred which the film-maker is drawing attention to with the view to combat said hatred. It is intellectually dishonest to suggest that this film promotes violence against Muslim people as opposed to drawing attention to how horrifying and disgusting it is.

Although it is true that there are non-Muslims that stand with Muslims and intervene, there are also many times when people do not. Women have spoken to us at JAN Trust of being the victims of hate crime in public spaces where no one has intervened. The cases that were showcased in The Martyrs film were based on real events. Depicting non-Muslim assailants committing an act of violence doesn’t mean that there are no instances at all where non-Muslims help and/or intervene. In fact, to watch the film and essentially say ‘but what about non-Muslims who help?’ is quite frustrating and derailing when trying to talk about issues the Muslim community face. It seems that the point of the film was missed here and we need to re-centre Muslim people and the racism and/or Islamophobia many have been subject to. There are many great non-Muslim allies; they know who they are and how they can help. They also understand the importance of not de-railing or centring themselves in these conversations, and not silencing Muslim voices. It’s disappointing to hear Tell Mama promoting this kind of narrative when Muslim people are trying to depict real examples of Islamophobia -strangely-the very incidents Tell Mama itself documents.

To criticise the film for not promoting unity is strange. When activists speak about an issue passionately or are angry at an injustice perpetrated by an individual or organisation, it would be bizarre to suggest to them that they are being divisive and should promote unity instead. If we use the example of police brutality in the USA for instance, would we expect Black people to not criticise the police force that mistreated them because that criticism may promote further division? In order to have a more unified and just society it is necessary to speak about the injustices you face in order to raise awareness and ultimately bring about change.

For Tell Mama to suggest that the Martyrs could encourage violence when watched by the wrong person is an interesting point. Watching the news coverage or of the Christchurch terrorist attack could encourage violence when watched by the wrong person. Watching what happened during the 7/7 London Bombings could encourage violence when watched by the wrong person. Watching a violent movie could encourage violence when watched by the wrong person. Where do we draw the line on what we should ban/withdraw or not when informing people (obviously excluding terrorist propaganda)? It’s important for people to see the reality of what is happening to many Muslim people in the UK and to have a responsible, factual dialogue surrounding Islamophobia to try and stop these incidents from happening. We cannot bury our heads in the sand or sit on the fence under the guise of promoting unity when there is clearly a problem. In addition, it’s important to remember that this is a film, created by a Muslim film-maker, where scenes are re-created by actors – not abuse or trauma disseminated by far-right extremists where they are depicted as good or heroic.

Another interesting topic The Martyrs touches on is how the media, notably but not exclusively radio shows, give platforms to hateful opinions and rhetoric which can influence others to carry out acts of violence. The mainstream media must be held accountable for this, which is something our CEO Sajda Mughal OBE and JAN Trust have spoken out about for quite some time, especially in relation to far-right extremism.

This is a well-made and hard-hitting film from Rizwan Wadan. The film shows the experience of victims and gives them a voice which they may not have had in the mainstream media. Rizwan himself has spoken about how difficult it was to get the project up and running, which just goes to show how often Muslim voices are side-lined.

As a BAME NGO, we campaign on issues such as hate crime, Islamophobia and discrimination and have worked on projects of our own such as our Another Way Forward initiative to start a dialogue surrounding hatred in the UK. We join the many organisations, members of the Muslim community  and other individuals who fully support Rizwan Wadan’s The Martyrs and the importance of raising awareness of the realities faced by those attacked.

Watch The Martyrs here!

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JAN Trust – Where it all began

This year JAN Trust is celebrating its 30th anniversary, and we would like to tell you all the story of how the charity was founded!

JAN Trust was formed, 30 years ago in 1989, as a result of an overwhelming demand from the local community, where JAN Trust continues to be based.

Marginalised and socially excluded women were approaching JAN Trust’s founder Rafaat Mughal OBE at her home seeking help and assistance. These women, living in Haringey, were facing extreme deprivation and a dire need for access to basic skills and opportunities, including English language, education, jobs and an understanding of British services and systems.

This was having an increasingly negative impact on their children who had little access to formal education. JAN Trusts’ journey very much began in the sitting room of our founder Rafaat Mughal OBE, however given the demand, Rafaat identified a need to formalise a support service for these local communities, and this is where JAN Trust first began!

Rafaat’s vision was to encourage, educate and empower women, building their self-confidence and allowing them to become independent and active citizens and take control of their own lives. The services provide by JAN Trust would enable marginalised women to reintegrate with society, and improve life options for themselves, their families and the wider community.

All of this was to be achieved through the provision of education and expert advice on the multiple barriers and issues these women were facing.

This April we are celebrating our 30th anniversary – find out how you can help to to continue to empower marginalised women here!

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