JAN Trust’s view on the Domestic Violence Bill

Domestic violence can affect any one of us, regardless of background. Crime Survey of England and Wales (CSEW) states 1.2 million women aged 15-59 have experienced domestic violence in the year March 2016/17.

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Theresa May recently made an announcement that we at JAN Trust believe is much needed. A reform to the Domestic Violence Bill, meaning that it will now address the issue of financial control something JAN Trust has been lobbying for over a number of years, as well as other forms of non-physical abuse.

Research by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) in March 2017, found that 46 out of 100 of reported incidents of domestic violence resulted in arrests and of that a staggering 32% of incidents were violent. It is important to mention these figures are based only on reported incidents, as we know domestic violence is a crime that goes largely unreported. Economically, the estimated cost of providing services and the lost economic output to victims reach an eye-watering £15.8 billion annually in the UK.

This new proposed bill will now encourage tougher sentences, where children are involved. The Bill also gives more protection to victims, with a new domestic abuse protection order, allowing the authorities to mediate in a crisis situation sooner. The bill has also encouraged the creation of a domestic abuse commissioner, to help safeguard victims further.

Moreover, the Domestic Violence Bill has made the announcement of providing £20m for accommodation-based services such as refuges. This is a huge success as more women will have a temporary shelter for when they make the courageous decision to leave an abusive partner.  In addition, the bill gives domestic abuse victims the same status in court as those who have suffered modern slavery or sex offences.

Through our work, over the last 30 years, we have worked with many women who seek shelter at a refuge, their experiences can result in them becoming increasingly isolated and become at increased risk of suffering from severe mental health issue, including suicidal thoughts. A combination of these leaves women at grave risk. Refuges are often underfunded and over stretched meaning that women are unable to receive the full support they require, this is where a service like JAN Trust is so vital for these women.

Here at JAN Trust, we support the bill entirely; over 99% of our beneficiaries who have suffered domestic violence are women. As a result, we see how their children suffer, creating a vicious cycle of violence. Over time, the behaviour becomes normalised for the children.

We believe education is a key element to tackling domestic abuse; we want to continue bringing women together, encouraging them to speak out and express themselves about the issues that are impacting them. Through our services, we provide a safe haven for women where they are comfortable to express how they feel and more importantly they have become confident overall.

Support must continue to organisations such as JAN Trust, as we provide the necessary care for marginalised BAMER women. Funding must continue in order to support women in these dire situations, at our centre women are able to seek advice and learn new skills with our courses. With our services they also find themselves making new friends, creating a community of women who have become empowered and educated.

Visit us at http://www.jantrust.org to read more about the services we provide and the testimonials of our users.

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Posted in Active citizenship, Advocacy, Campaign, Campaigning, Crime, discrimination, Education, girls, JAN Trust, London, marriage, police, Society, Uncategorized, Violence, Violence Against Women, women | Tagged , , , , , ,

The Integrated Communities Strategy Green Paper: JAN Trust’s response

Yesterday, the Government released their Integrated Communities Strategy Green Paper which is up for consultation until the 5th June 2018. Although the paper contains an emphasis on the importance of localised initiatives, the lack of funding pledges for those services may render tangible progress non-existent.

Within the Integration Green Paper, it is noted that a ‘worrying number of communities, are divided along race, faith or socio-economic lines.’ In response, this initial strategy identifies and proposes priority policy areas to help drive integration in the UK.

At JAN Trust, we are encouraged by the acknowledgement of and focus on marginalised ethnic minority women, who are disproportionally affected by some of the key problem areas raised in the paper. These include lower levels of English language proficiency, labour market opportunities, meaningful social mixing and decreased rates of civic engagement contributing, in part, to social isolation.

The paper reveals that the Muslim population, Muslim women especially, are reported to have lower levels of English proficiency than other group over the age of 16. The significance of this is vast as the importance of learning the English language is absolutely fundamental and necessary for integration. Learning the language unlocks the potential of overcoming all the other potential barriers when it comes to assimilating into British society. Without meaningful access to essential ESOL services these communities are hugely disadvantaged.

In an attempt to alleviate this, the Government have proposed a new strategy for ESOL programmes in Britain, identifying the fact that problems with integration cannot be tackled with one singular policy. The new focus will be on piloting and establishing unique localised English language initiatives to empower these communities. This will initially take place across five specific areas; Bradford, Blackburn with Darwen, Peterborough, Walsall and Waltham Forest. It however must be recognised that to see the true advantages of such policies emerge it will be necessary for all initiatives to be rolled out nationally in the coming years, successful integration across the board mandates a national strategy.

The paper also stresses that the availability and affordability of local classes are hugely important for women from minority communities in particular, as other responsibilities within the home can become an obstacle to the prioritisation of learning.

At JAN Trust, we have years of experience in this area and cannot emphasise enough how important it is for local BAMER and Muslim women to have an easily accessible centre for learning. The importance of localised grassroots initiatives such as ours in tackling social isolation for marginalised women is absolutely essential and since 1989 we have proven that this model works. We have pioneered this as our core-work for nearly 30 years, closely working with BAMER and Muslim women and providing ESOL and skills based classes. These classes are vital to build independence, a sense of self-determination and to enable integration into modern day British society.

There has been a long historical lack of funding for local grassroots organisations like ourselves with funding for ESOL falling by over 50% since 2009. However, the papers’ recognition of the importance of localised services for the future of integration policy is a step forward. We hope that these proposals are honoured and that funding for local grassroots initiatives such as JAN Trust is prioritised and realised. As yet there exists no clear detail about how policies will be funded, and without a solid commitment to funding it is questionable whether this strategy will be obtainable.

Follow the link below to view the Green Paper and have your say about how important it is to fund and support local grassroots organisations:

https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/integrated-communities-strategy-green-paper

To read more about the pioneering work we do to tackle social isolation and create more integrated communities click here: https://jantrust.org/services/.

Posted in Active citizenship, british, Education, girls, Inclusion, JAN Trust, Society, Uncategorized, women | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , ,

International Women’s Day – At JAN Trust we believe the #TimeIsNow to support and empower women

Over the past year there have been a number of major breakthroughs for women’s empowerment, the theme for International Women’s Day in 2018 is #press for progress, let’s make this happen.

International Women’s Day is politically rooted in strikes and protest and grew out of the labour movement in the America, in 1908 15, 000 women took to the streets or New York demanding shorter working hours, better pay and the right to vote. A year later the first national day of the women was announced by the Socialist Party of America.

In 1910 Clara Zetkin suggested that the day be made international at an International Conference of Working Women in Copenhagen. There were 100 women there, from 17 countries, and they agreed unanimously.

Today International Women’s Day has become a date to celebrate the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. The past year has been a turbulent and trying year for women, however with the ever growing global movement of advocacy, activism and support it looks that there could be significant changes on the horizon.

The women’s movement has taken a dramatic shift into the mainstream due to the culmination of a number of significant events that have taken place largely across the last eighteen months. Events such as the women’s marches, the Weinstein scandal that unearthed the that sexual harassment and violence are endemic and normalised across society and all industries, made plane by the Oxfam scandal, in addition there has been a significant focus on the gender pay gap.

A pivotal moment in the past year emerged after the Weinstein scandal, the #metoo campaign across social media and the subsequent #timesup campaign both have gained huge traction and have opened the floor allowing women to be empowered and open up and share their stories.

However, it must be noted that there still exist a significant lack of a platform for women of colour to become empowered to the same degree as their white counter parts. In 2018 racism operates in a covert manner, this is best explained through domestic violence services in which there exists an disparity in the ability of BAME women accessing help, there are a number of additional barrier that prevent or hinder access. The experience for many BAME women when attempting to access domestic violence services or statutory agencies is compounded by racism and stereotyping.

This is why the work we do at JAN Trust is so vital. We support and provide services to women in hard to reach communities at a grassroots level. JAN Trust supports women to integrate into wider society and become active citizens, providing a much-needed safe space for women where they can support each other, and empower themselves and their families. We are committed to combatting marginalisation, extremism, hate crime and violence against women, by working with Black, Asian, minority ethnic, and refugee (BAMER) women through a number of educational projects. All of the work we do enables women to use their voices to share their stories!

Moving forward we must begin to recognise that women are not a homogenous group, and therefore do not share the same experiences and challenges and exists across a number of intersections. Therefore we must start by trying to empower the women with the biggest number of intersections.

The past year has seen a number of major breakthroughs for women’s rights across the globe, and 2018 is a time to build on these advances. It is paramount that we draw on the resilience of the women’s movement, a fight back in the face of harassment and hate.

To support our work, visit: https://jantrust.org/about-us/support-us/

Posted in Active citizenship, Advocacy, Campaign, Campaigning, child marriage, discrimination, Diversity, Education, forced marriage, Forced Marriages, girls, JAN Trust, London, marriage, Uncategorized, Violence Against Women, women | Tagged , , , , , ,

On International Women’s Day we must continue to #pressforprogress against FGM, forced marriage and sexual harassment

It has been an amazing journey for female empowerment, many obstacles have been tackled we are here to continue fighting!

The 8th of March has become a significant date for many women. During the Russian Revolution 1922, protests broke out against the deteriorating living conditions, lack of food supplies and the shortage of food. Since then it has been a day of celebration and unity.

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Women’s voices are being heard, and each day is a small step to equality on all platforms; however women are still facing discrimination as  a result of  their gender, whether it be socially or in their professional life. The most prominent form of discrimination for women today is sexual harassment, an epidemic that came to light in later part of 2017. Other issues include female genital mutilation (FGM) and forced marriages, which are still not talked about as much.

FGM has been around for thousands of years in many different cultures, the most popular age for girls to have the procedure is between infancy and 15 years old. There are many different degrees of FGM, from excision of clitoris to complete removal of the clitoris to completely narrowing the vaginal opening as Figure 1 shows.

FGM was outlawed in the UK in 1985 and later in 2003; it was made illegal to arrange FGM for a British citizen or a permanent resident. Regardless of this, many women and young girls are still at dire risk.

The procedure has no known health benefits for girls or women. However, the FGM can host many complications for the survivors, these can include infection, long-term urinary problems, child birth problems, genital tissue swelling and in some cases death. Furthermore, the psychological strain can consist of post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety and depression amongst sufferers.

It is estimated that there are more than 200 million females that have  undergone this procedure to date. The practice is most prevalent in western, eastern and northern Africa. There are many sociocultural factors as to why it is practiced. FGM is seen as a necessity of a young girl preparing for marriage; it has become a social norm in some societies. The backlash, of not conforming to these traditions are becoming isolated and estranged from the community. It is believed FGM ensures chastity and fidelity in a marriage by reducing a woman’s libido, therefore reducing the risk of extramarital sex. To see the factors to look out for if you are worried about someone suffering FGM click here.

FGM

Figure1 http://nationalfgmcentre.org.uk/what-is-fgm/

Another pressing issue in today’s society and something women and men across the globe are fighting against is forced marriage, whereby one party, or both parties are being pressured into the marriage, usually by their families. There are many reasons why it takes place, and for the most part they are the same reasons why many do not come forward.

Victims are often emotionally bribed and possibly face estrangement if they do not enter into the marriage. For many victims, reporting the crime will put them in more danger, as a result they feel like they do not have anyone to seek help from.

The statistics by the Home Office shows an increase of almost 13% from 2014 to 2016. Recent figures, from 2016, show there was a staggering 1428 cases in the UK. Victims, aged 16 or younger, have increased from 11% to 26% (2014/2016 respectively). Victims aged 18-21 have increased from 17% to 34% (2014/2016 respectively). This is an ever growing problem, if you would like to know the signs click the link.

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Women have made wondrous achievements, however, in light of the recent news of sexual harassment in Hollywood and far closer to home in Westminster, it seems women across the globe are coming together to discuss how to fight against a workplace culture of harassment against women.

The Harvey Weinstein debacle started the conversation. Figures from the Trades Union Congress revealed that 52% of women have experienced unwanted behaviour in the workplace. Even more dishearteningly 4 in 5 women do not report the incident.  Alike, reports at Westminster found many MPs under the same scrutiny; accusations of gross misconduct began circulating at the end of 2017.  The string of MPs named from all parties saw many suspended, demoted and under investigation.

As a result, men and women took to social media to talk about their experiences.  #MeToo began trending; people across all industries could share their harrowing stories. In just 24 hours, 4.7 million people around the globe were engaging in the conversation, further highlighting the magnitude of the issue. Similarly, at this year’s Golden Globes, this topic of conversation had taken precedence. #TimesUp began trending whereby A-list celebrities made it their goal to shed more light on the initiative.

At JAN Trust we have aided thousands of women through our classes including English, IT and Fashion, improving their range of skills and employability chances. Through our Web Guardians™ programme, women are provided with invaluable knowledge on how to tackle extremism and online radicalisation. Through our Against FGM and Against Forced Marriages campaigns, we have raised awareness of the abuse women go through in today’s society. We hope to continue to #PressForProgress this International Women’s Day.

Posted in Active citizenship, Campaign, Campaigning, child marriage, discrimination, forced marriage, Forced Marriages, girls, JAN Trust, marriage, Uncategorized, Violence Against Women, women | Tagged , , , , , , , , , ,

Brushed under the carpet – Depression in the South Asian Community

The statistics by the Office of National Statistics (ONS) 2017 revealed that 1 in 4 of the UK population will experience depression.

 Many South Asian communities regard depression as taboo, something that is brushed under the carpet. It is often hidden from family and friends to elude the image of a perfect family. A report written by Dame Louise Casey in 2016, mentioned many things that could be an underlying cause for the state of depression in this particular community.

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The South Asian community has always been closely-knit. The report revealed, Pakistani and Bangladeshi communities live in more residentially segregated areas than any other ethnic minority group. Compared to other minority faith groups, Muslims tend to live in more concentrated residential areas, including Birmingham, Bradford and Blackburn; the population of Muslims tend to be between 70%-85%, it should be mentioned Muslims make up only 4.8% of the UK population. As a result, culture and traditions are so ingrained in everyday life. A large part of South Asian tradition is that of honour (izzat), it has always been so heavily embedded in the community, that topics such as depression would impede on someone’s honour as it does not conform to their cultural ideology. Prof Dinesh Bhugra, an expert in mental health at King’s College London, says the South Asian population has “a bigger notion of shame” than others in the UK.

There are a whole host of cultural factors that can lead to women and men alike, in this community, to depression. For many women, they may be first generation immigrants, often through marriage. The pressure put on women in this community are intense and rather unobtainable, they are expected to be the perfect daughter, daughter-in-law, wife, mother, friend and sister. Any woman knows that trying to achieve this level of perfection is challenging and unrealistic.

Women in this community often lack autonomy, having little power and control over their lives. The report went on to reveal, there is a strong correlation of increased segregation among Pakistani and Bangladeshi households in deprived areas with poor English language and poorer labour market outcomes. As well, there is a striking inequality for women in this community. This negative cycle will not improve unless there is intense and targeted effort on this issue; given evidence with the fact women in this community have little or no access to education or employment opportunities. They reach breaking point bringing about anxiety, stress and in the end depression.

In many South Asian cultures, the notion of feelings and emotions are seen as a weakness. Instead they are taught, or rather made to learn, to keep it bottled up inside, so their families honour stays intact.

There is a huge misconception about depression in the community. For many of the older generation they do not understand what mental health is and that it can be treated medically. For many, the causes of depression are believed to be black magic, the will of God or even bad parenting.

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For many people who are suffering from depression, they are unable to seek comfort in their elders. The fear of being made to feel like they are a burden or their mental health is a non-issue. For a lot of women, they are dependent on male support; this can further isolate the individual and they become even more reluctant to seek help.

Another issue at the heart of the South Asian community is that marriage prospects can become damaged. With many believing mental health is hereditary and incurable, prospects of marriage become hindered. The family name becomes tainted; this can then spread to extended families name also becoming tarnished. This leads to many families brushing the issue under the carpet.

As a result, not having the ability to open up to someone or for some women, not having anyone that cares enough to listen, can put a strain on their mental health. This can cause anyone to become clinically depressed. For most, they seek help out of desperation, at that point it is usually too late.

What can we do to help? The first recommendation in Louise Casey’s report, inspired by JAN Trust, is to support programmes in order to help improve community cohesion. Casey reiterates the idea of using programmes as they provide a clear focus on reducing segregation in the local area and addressing the key priorities of the area. We offer advice and refer those who are suffering from depression. Our centre also provides the chance for women from different backgrounds to become a community and empower one another.

At JAN Trust we host our Web Guardians™ programme to fight against extremism and online radicalisation. We offer English language classes and IT classes that overall empower local women that would have otherwise felt marginalised. We push forward for women to raise their employment opportunities by offering classes to help with CV’s and job searching.

If you would like to contact us please call on 02088899433 or email us at info@jantrust.org.

Posted in girls, Health Issues, JAN Trust, mental health, Society, Uncategorized, women | Tagged , , , , , , , , , ,

Welcoming our new Ambassadors!

 

We at JAN Trust are honoured to have four new ambassadors on board: actress Bhavna Limbachia, comedian Shazia Mirza, comedian Mawaan Rizwan and netball player Geva Mentor!

Mawaan started his career on YouTube, where his comedy videos have been viewed over 19 million times. He recently starred in the BAFTA-winning BBC3 drama Murdered By My Father and is shooting a six-part ITV drama produced by Mammoth Screen, whcih aired this year. Mawaan is also becoming a favourite on the alternative comedy scene, with his unique hybrid of absurd stand-up and captivating physicality. He studied clowning with world renowned teacher, Philippe Gaulier, whose alumni include Sacha Baron Cohen and Helena Bonham Carter. Later this year, Mawaan will be on a UK stand-up tour with Simon Amstell.

Bhavna’s career has been incredibly versatile. In October 2010 she started her own unique business, designing and selling vintage clothes and accessories. Her media career includes TV Series, such as Doctors, Casualty and more recently for Mount Pleasant by Tiger Aspect Productions. Since 2012 Bhavna has played Alia Khan in BBC One’s Citizen Khan a family-based British sitcom produced by the BBC and created by Adil Ray. It is set in Sparkhill, Birmingham, described by its lead character, Pakistani Muslim Mr. Khan as “the capital of British Pakistan”. Warnings about how she would not have a regular income and almost certainly faced spells of unemployment initially made Bhavna choose a different path altogether. “I still loved being creative so I studied fashion design then went on to do a degree in costume design,” said Preston-born Bhavna, who lives with pals in Manchester when filming. Bhavna landed an agent and has never looked back, with Citizen Khan the show she was best-known for before Corrie came calling. In fact, she revealed she hasn’t had to choose between the two jobs. She has just finished filming the fifth series of the sitcom, fitting in work on that as well as Corrie.

Shazia Mirza is an award winning British stand-up comedian and writer. Shazia’s recent TV appearances include The Jonathan Ross Show (ITV), Graham Norton (BBC), Loose Women (ITV), The Late Late Show (RTE), Top Gear (BBC), and is a regular panellist on The Wright Stuff (Channel 5), The Frank Skinner Show (Absolute Radio), Shazia has also appeared on ‘Celebrity Island with Bear Grylls’on Channel 4. Her latest stand up show, ‘The Kardashians Made Me Do It’ was critically acclaimed all over the UK, US, Sweden, Ireland, and in Paris, and completed four sell out runs at London’s Soho Theatre, and 103 tour dates internationally.

Geva Mentor’s name is always mentioned when netball experts talk about the best defenders in International netball. The England international has played a significant role in building the English teams capacity to match it with world leaders in Australia and New Zealand. Selected for England at just 15 years of age in 2001, Mentor has built a career around athleticism, ability to read the play and a desire to do what’s needed to be the very best. 2017 was another stand out year for Mentor as she lead the Sunshine Coast Lightning to the Inaugural Suncorp Super Netball Premiership win against the newly formed franchise Giants Netball. Geva was thrilled to be voted Captain in an incredibly strong playing group and she lead by example all year with numerous best on court performances. The praise didn’t stop there though, Mentor went on to win the Sunshine Coast Lightning Player of the Year, the Suncorp Super Netball league’s MVP and she was also named in the league’s team of the year in the hotly contested position of GK.

We are delighted to have public figures who are willing to support the vital work that we do empowering women. To see more about what we do visit our website at www.jantrust.org.

Posted in british, Campaign, Campaigning, Uncategorized, Violence Against Women, women | Tagged , , , , , , , ,

The Media STILL fails to report on far-right terrorism adequately

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The language the mainstream media have used to frame the actions, arrest and trial of terrorist Darren Osborne has not gone far enough to adequately represent the severity of the danger of far-right terrorism. Until the media linguistically frames far-right extremism with the same conviction they are able to with Islamic extremism, society will be in the dark about the truth of this rising threat.

The news of terrorist Darren Osborne’s trial and subsequent jail sentence of a minimum of 43 years has been the focus of countless media headlines in the last few weeks. In the build up to the Finsbury Park terrorist attack, where he used a vehicle as a weapon to kill Muslim worshippers outside a Mosque, it has been reported that he obsessively consumed various far-right online materials. The startling facts relating to the case have emerged during the course of this trial where we have learnt that he was radicalised online in only a matter of weeks; this process of radicalisation allegedly set into motion by watching a documentary about the Rochdale grooming gangs.

Osbornes’ search results indicated frequent visits to far-right sites and social media accounts such as the EDL and Britain First. His hatred of, and desire to kill Muslims was also enflamed by the personal videos and writings of ex EDL leader Tommy Robinson and the leaders of Britain First Jayda Fransen and Paul Golding. It is important to note that this consumption of far-right ideology is reminiscent of the terrorist Thomas Mair, who murdered MP Jo Cox in 2016. It was reported he shouted ‘Britain First’  just before the attack, had links to various far-right groups and collected Nazi memorabilia.

The government’s Prevent strategy now recognises far-right extremism as a significant terrorist threat and out of all individuals who were monitored throughout 2016/2017, almost one-third were reported to have extreme right-wing views. This is a rise of 25% from the previous year and is growing rapidly aided by the anti-Islam rhetoric we can see in the media and wider society.

In light of this, it is imperative that the danger of this terrorist threat is recognised as such and utilising the proper language to report on it and speak about it is vital. As we can see from some of the newspaper headlines below, there is a continued and ubiquitous use of phrases such as ‘lone wolf attacker’, ‘loner’, ‘Muslim attacker’, ‘Van Attack’ ‘Driver’, ‘Man who wanted to kill Muslims’ and ‘Finsbury Park Van Attack’.

Darren Osbourne

The language we use, shapes the meaning of how we perceive and understand the world. If the media, which has the power to exert huge amounts of influence, keeps omitting words such as ‘terrorist’, ‘terrorist attack’ and ‘far-right extremist’ from their headlines and discourse, the general public are not going to conceptualise this type of terrorist threat.

Labelling a terrorist as a ‘Driver’ or something along the lines of ‘Finsbury Park Mosque attacker who drove a van’ reads like the mainstream media is playing an odd game of linguistic gymnastics – the word ‘terrorist’ should be applied and not skirted around. In addition, labelling these terrorists as ‘lone wolves’ completely neglects their tangible links to far-right groups and networks. This type of reporting is doing a disservice to wider society by framing terrorists such as Darren Osborne and Thomas Mair as troubled, lonely, sick men who commit isolated one-off acts of violence. In actuality, these terrorists do not emerge from a vacuum, but from the membership and consumption of dangerous far-right ideologies and elaborate networks of online extremism; this is the common denominator for these extremists – they are not alone.

The way this case has been reported has proved that the same well-worn beating around the bush is still being deployed when the media has to grapple with a white male far-right terrorist. This is the same mainstream media which has no qualms labelling Islamic extremists as terrorists, so the reluctance to do so when it comes to far-right extremism is a problem rooted in a larger conversation of the stereotypes associated with what society thinks of as a ‘terrorist’.

At JAN Trust, we recognise that there have been improvements in this type of reporting over the last few years, however now there is no excuse for not correctly labelling this threat. The media needs to use the appropriate language to discuss far-right extremism and stop linguistically skirting around the issue in order to contribute to an appropriate understanding of the many ways in which extremism can manifest.

Our Web Guardians™ programme tackles the problem of online extremism from both Islamic and far-right angles and continues to successfully pioneer ways in which online radicalisation can be recognised and prevented.

To find out more about the work we do on this issue visit our Web Guardians™ website here: http://webguardians.org/

Posted in Ethnic Minorities, Extremism, Facebook, Far right, Hate Crime, hijab, ISIS, Islam, islamophobia, JAN Trust, London, Online abuse, Online hate, Politics, Prime Minister, Racism, radicalisation, Radicalisaton, Society, Uncategorized, women | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Breaking down the language barrier in immigrant families

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ESOL services are a vital part of successful integration for many immigrant families, with these services in increasing jeopardy, it will be women and children who will suffer the most.   

For first generation immigrants, coming to the UK to build a life and raise a family can contain various complications. The reality is that for many families, there is a language discrepancy between the mother, who may be learning English as a second language, and her English-speaking children. This language barrier can raise significant challenges.

A mother who is not proficient in English may find it hard to engage with many aspects of life here in the U.K, significantly with her child’s schooling and education. A lack of ability and/or confidence in speaking and writing English can mean that there is less engagement; this includes not having the confidence to join discussions and groups in the school environment, not being able to engage in parents’ evenings and not being able to help with homework and understanding the course material. This lack of involvement has the potential to create a barrier between the mother and her child, and in turn this may have a detrimental effect on the child’s development and wellbeing.

In a similar vein, an inability to write in English or send emails means that communications with the child’s school might be non-existent or strained. Even though some schools may have the resources to provide translators, which is not always the case, having the self-assurance and confidence to be able to ask for this in the first place is not a given. Ultimately, the child may have to act as the translator and mediator in these scenarios, which can place a strain on the relationship between mother and child.

This role as translator/mediator also plays out in other facets of daily life with the child having to help their mother to do various tasks such as book doctor’s appointments, make important phone calls and use an English-style computer, phone or tablet for example. From the child’s perspective, there may be a frustration and/or lack of empathy towards their mother for not being able to speak the language properly and to have to always assist them with what they perceive of as basic parts of daily life. A lot of young English people, not necessarily from immigrant backgrounds, light-heartedly complain about how their mothers are useless with their phones or computers and how much patience it requires to take them through each process step by step. When you add a language barrier into the mix along with a generational digital illiteracy; it is easy to see how this exasperates the living situation.

Moreover, the differences between the dominant languages of first generation and second generation immigrants can have a detrimental effect on the mother-child relationship in a slightly different way. The child, whose native language is English, may not be able to have full and complex discussions with their mother about serious topics and issues, such as current world events or ideological concepts. Although the child may also be able to speak and understand their mother’s first language, they may not be fluent in it. Alternatively, they may reply in English as this is more natural to them; or an ad-hoc mix of both languages.

Being unable to have flowing and meaningful discussions with a parent due to a language barrier can lead to a lack of comprehension of the totality of the other person’s personality and interests. This creates a disconnect and can prove to be a huge obstacle in becoming as close with the other person as possible. Without this important foundation, a child may turn to their friends or the internet to have these significant discussions and find out information about complex questions they have; which might not always be reliable.

At JAN Trust, we see first-hand how important it is to bridge this gap. Our award-winning Web Guardians™ programme and our ESOL English language classes work in tandem to build digital literacy and English language skills. In this way, mothers are empowered to join in with important discussions, engage more in society themselves and not rely on others. This increased confidence goes towards establishing better relationships, becoming more involved in their children’s lives, and feeling more integrated and independent.

To find out about our work, please visit our website: www.jantrust.org.

Posted in Education, Ethnic Minorities, girls, JAN Trust, London, Muslim, Muslim women, Sajda Mughal, sewing and fashion, Uncategorized, Web Guardians, women | Tagged , , , , , , , ,

Why English is essential for integration into British society

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The English language, as the official language of Britain, is an essential skill for refugees and migrants to fully integrate into British society. The government will be releasing a new integration strategy this year.

Dame Louise Casey was commissioned by the government to review community cohesion at the end of 2016, in a report titled ‘The Casey Review’. The recommendations of this report were in fact based on a visit Dame Louise Casey made to our centre in 2015; the conclusions she came to were influenced by talking to us and meeting our beneficiaries and hearing about their experiences and needs.

Across the UK local communities are becoming divided and minority communities are increasingly segregated from wider social life.

There is a vital need for greater ESOL provision for minority communities, a recommendation which JAN Trust has been at the forefront of advocating for. At JAN Trust we have seen the positive effects of investing in language provision first hand, as a result of our free ESOL classes for marginalised women in the local area.

JAN Trust was formed in 1989, providing a range of classes for minority ethnic women and addressing the issues affecting them by creating a safe environment where service users can voice their concerns freely and openly. From its inception, JAN Trust has recognised that lack of language skills can lead to low self-confidence and isolation, and we have worked tirelessly to challenge this vicious cycle. This has resulted in scores of success stories. We have seen women evolve from isolated individuals with no confidence, to empowered women armed with qualifications, moving on to successful careers or further study. As one JAN Trust user commented:

A big thank you to JAN Trust who has helped me gain new skills and confidence. They supported me in opening my own fashion business which is proving to be successful. JAN Trust has inspired me to continue with my business and support my family out of poverty.”

What is shocking, though, is that the UK budget for ESOL classes has been consistently cut in recent years. Overall ESOL funding has been slashed by almost 50% since 2009.

Over the past three decades, we have helped thousands of women to not only improve their English, but to regain their confidence and improve their job prospects, through skills classes. Women such as Sarla, originally from India, who said: “Before, I had no confidence to speak and write English but now I write and I’m using the computer as well. My daughter has bought me a small computer now.” Or Jurgita, originally from Lithuania, who took one of our tailoring courses and now says: “I would like to do something more with these new skills I have gained – maybe open my own business or get a job.”

Our classes not only enable women on a personal level to further their careers and gain skills. These classes also support social inclusion in a understanding atmosphere and create a sense of empowerment that can allows women to prevent domestic violence, forced marriage, FGM and radicalisation, all of which are among the government’s top priorities.

If you are interested in finding out more about the services we offer, visit http://jantrust.org/

Posted in Ethnic Minorities, Inclusion, London, Representation, Society, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , ,

Our Web Guardians™ programme in 2017

Our Web Guardians™ programme for 2017 has finished! JAN Trust would like to share with you the successes of the 2017 programme and tell you why this vital programme needs to continue. The waiting list for the 2018 programme is ever growing! Web Guardians™, largely targeted at Muslim mothers, aims to provide participants with digital literacy skills and the education, skills and confidence to prevent and tackle online extremism.

Many of the women who took part previously had no or lack of internet skills and had no knowledge of the dangers of the internet, despite having young children. After the programme they have promised to utilise the knowledge they have learnt to protect their children from the dangers of the internet. Before the programme some of the women we taught could barely type; let alone complete more complex tasks. With the Web Guardians™ programme we have made these women digitally literate and aware of online extremism along with how they can protect their loved ones. Before the programme began, mothers had no idea of what lurked on the internet nor did they know how the internet can affect their children, this comes as no surprise to us! Since we have been delivering the programme for the last 8 years across the UK, we have noticed the disconnect between parent and child. Empowering these women which ultimately improves their relationship with their children is priceless, and we have witnessed this first hand.

On Thursday the 21st of December 2017, we held a certificate ceremony for women who took part on the programme. JAN Trust awarded the women tablets and certificates for their successful completion of the intensive 6 week Web Guardians™ course. The ceremony took place at our centre in Wood Green.

JAN Trust is incredibly proud of the achievements and progress the women have made over the course of the programme and hope that they will impart their knowledge into their communities and continue to learn. It has been a real pleasure watching the women grow in both confidence and skills. In addition we have received excellent feedback from the women:

It is an eye opener

I like my course. I enjoy my course because I learn so many things.

The internet is dangerous you have to be aware.

I know how the internet can brainwash our children and the dangers. I will tell women and advise them to come.

Thank you from the bottom of my heart

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Catherine West MP, Zina Etheridge CEO of Haringey Council, and Councillor Eugene Ayisi presented certificates to those who completed the programme.

Above is Catherine West, MP for Hornsey and Wood Green, presenting certificates to the women. She spoke highly of our programme:

The graduates of this vital programme work tirelessly day-in-day-out to help our communities. I want to thank them for their efforts in completing this intensive six-week course that will bring tangible benefits to people’s lives and the JAN Trust for all of its consistent hard work.

David Lammy, MP for Tottenham was unable to attend the ceremony but commended the work that we do said:

I would like to congratulate JAN Trust on the important work that they are doing in Tottenham. As the rising tide of extremism and hatred becomes more and more real in our communities, I applaud the work that JAN Trust is doing, particularly in its efforts to tackle Islamophobia.

I would like to offer my warmest congratulations to the graduates of the Web Guardians™ programme, who are working to protect their community from unknowable dangers. I am so sorry not to be there to acknowledge the work that you have done personally, but would like to pass on my appreciation and thanks on behalf of all my constituents for the efforts you have put in to support the community of Haringey.

CEO of Haringey Council Zina Etheridge and Councillor Eugene Ayisi also presented certificates to the users, marking a great occasion to celebrate the women’s achievements for partaking in the course. Some users even stated that they would come back and do the course again, because there is so much information to learn!

Here are some images from the programme and certificate ceremony:

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We hope to be able to expand our programme this year as we are aware that there is a need. We want to continue to educate and empower women across the UK with our Web Guardians™ programme as it continues to grow! If you want to find out more about our programme, you can watch a testimonial from a satisfied participant here and visit our website at www.webguardians.org.

Posted in british, Education, Extremism, Facebook, Far right, google, Hate Crime, Online abuse, Online hate, radicalisation, Radicalisaton, Uncategorized, Web Guardians, women | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,