Blog Archive

Sunday, 11 February 2018

Solidarity with refugees: please support our humanitarian aid efforts in 2018


We are returning to France this month to take solidarity, essential supplies and food.
When we visited at the end of 2017 it was bitterly cold, people raised with us concerns about police brutality, lack of shelter and insufficient food.
As you will know one of the organisations we work with in France is the Refugee Community Kitchen, bringing them food supplies. They do brilliant work in supplying two hot meals per day to people but ongoing support is needed to provide adequate meals for people, it is especially important for people to get hot meals during the colder weather and because people are living and sleeping outside in the open air without shelter.
We would be grateful if you were to share this message with your networks and any donations you can give are gratefully received. With £1 we can purchase thermal gloves or a warm scarf or hat. The supply we took last time were well received and much needed.
Other ways you can support us this month or through the year are for your organisation to sponsor our transport and travel to go to France or you can drop off supplies for us to take at our base at PCS union HQ in Clapham Junction, London. Things that are needed are hats, scarves, gloves, small to medium mens warm clothing, catering size supplies of food (check with us first as we usually have a list of what's needed most urgently), sleeping bags and foil blankets, mobile phones and sim cards, wind up torches, size 7 and 8 sturdy walking shoes, coats and toiletries including black hair products and skin care.
Thanks for your support and solidarity. Below are more details of how you can help.
Best Wishes
Zita
Zita Holbourne
National Chair, BARAC UK



DONATION APPEAL  
SUPPORT BARAC UK HUMANITARIAN AID AND  
SOLIDARITY WORK WITH REFUGEES IN FRANCE   
"To deny people their human rights is to challenge their very humanity." - Nelson Mandela   
 
BARAC has been coordinating regular monthly aid convoys to Calais since summer 2015 to support people who are refugees stuck in limbo in horrific conditions in Calais and in Dunkerque. In addition to the regular distribution of food, toiletries, clothes, camping equipment and other essential items including addressing cultural and religious needs, we have carried out solidarity and fact-finding visits.  
There are four key ways to help support our humanitarian aid and solidarity work with refugees in France:  
  1. Donate to the BARAC UK Humanitarian Appeal by visiting the GoFundMe page here: https://www.gofundme.com/nvbvy8qcAlternatively send a cheque made payable to ‘BARAC UK’ with the form below to: Zita Holbourne, BARAC National Chair, PCS National Vice President,  PCS HQ, 160 Falcon Road, London, SW112LN.   
  2. Drop off essential items to our distribution point at PCS HQ. Please address items (see list of items needed below) to: Zita Holbourne, PCS NEC, C/O Harvey Jacob (for Calais), PCS HQ, 160 Falcon Road, London, SW11 2LN.   
  3. Sponsor transport & travel. For details on how you can sponsor a future humanitarian visit please contact Zita Holbourne, BARAC Co Chair by email:Barac.info@gmail.com  
  4. Join the BARAC convoy by bringing a vehicle.  To coordinate efforts and include your own vehicle on a future humanitarian visit please contact Zita Holbourne, BARAC Co-Chair by email: Barac.info@gmail.com  

Items needed include:   

Clothes: Mainly men’s but also women’s and children’s.  Small and medium size boxer shorts/ underwear, gloves, scarves, hats, waterproof coats, socks  and shoes (waterproof and size 7 or 8 men’s),  hoodies, jogging bottoms, fleeces.

Camping equipment:  Warm blankets, emergency blankets, sleeping bags, tarpaulin, ground mats, tent pegs, tents, camping stoves and gas cylinders, cooking pots, utensils, torches.
Toiletries: Sanitary towels, wipes, tooth brushes, toothpaste, anti-bacterial hand gel, shower gel, shampoo (including for African hair), razors, skin cream,  coconut oil, body butters including cocoa and shea, African hair products, halal toiletries.
Food in bulk supply:  Extra virgin olive oil, basmati rice, sea salt, fresh chillies, black pepper, fresh and powdered spices, coconut milk, vinegars, mustard, tahini, harissa, sumac, honey, dried fruit and nuts, dates, golden syrup, sugar, fresh garlic and ginger, fresh vegetables and fruit, tinned fish, long life mil, filter coffee, pulses and beans.
Mobile phones and sim cards. Washing up sponges / liquid, cleaning products, catering kitchen towel and cling film, large bin bags.

DONATION FORM   

To donate please complete and return this form together with a cheque or alternatively pay directly into our account bank account.  
  • I wish to give a donation towards BARAC’s humanitarian aid and solidarity work with refugees’ in  
France;  
    £250    £100      £50         £35         £25        £10       Other £ .….….….….….  
  • I enclose a cheque for a total of        £ ..........                   Payable to BARAC UK Or  
  • I have paid the following amount          £………..           into the BARAC Bank Account: BARAC UK Bank details:  Barclays Bank    Sort Code: 20 67 90     Account No:  53317803  
 
Signature:                                                                                     Date:   
Name of Organisation (if applicable)   
Contact Name:                                                                      Position:  
Address:   
 
Tel no.:                                                                                      Email:   
Please return this donation form (and cheque) to:  
BARAC UK  
C/O Zita Holbourne, National Co-Chair BARAC UK  
PCS HQ, 160 Falcon Road, London,   
SW11 2LN  
Alternatively email to: barac.info@gmail.com  Thank you for your support   Web:www.blackactivistsrisingagainstcuts.blogspot.com   Twitter:  @baracuk       Facebook:  BARAC UK   

Monday, 11 September 2017

DONATION APPEAL SUPPORT BARAC UK HUMANITARIAN AID AND

     







DONATION APPEAL  
SUPPORT BARAC UK HUMANITARIAN AID AND  
SOLIDARITY WORK WITH REFUGEES IN FRANCE   
"To deny people their human rights is to challenge their very humanity." - Nelson Mandela   
 
BARAC has been coordinating regular monthly aid convoys to Calais since summer 2015 to support people who are refugees stuck in limbo in horrific conditions in Calais and in Dunkerque. In addition to the regular distribution of food, toiletries, clothes, camping equipment and other essential items including addressing cultural and religious needs, we have carried out solidarity and fact-finding visits.  
There are four key ways to help support our humanitarian aid and solidarity work with refugees in France:  
  1. Donate to the BARAC UK Humanitarian Appeal by visiting the GoFundMe page here: https://www.gofundme.com/nvbvy8qc. Alternatively send a cheque made payable to ‘BARAC UK’ with the form below to: Zita Holbourne, BARAC National Chair, PCS National Vice President,  PCS HQ, 160 Falcon Road, London, SW11 2LN.   
  2. Drop off essential items to our distribution point at PCS HQ. Please address items (see list of items needed below) to: Zita Holbourne, PCS NEC, C/O Harvey Jacob (for Calais), PCS HQ, 160 Falcon Road, London, SW11 2LN.   
  3. Sponsor transport & travel. For details on how you can sponsor a future humanitarian visit please contact Zita Holbourne, BARAC Co Chair by email: Barac.info@gmail.com  
  4. Join the BARAC convoy by bringing a vehicle.  To coordinate efforts and include your own vehicle on a future humanitarian visit please contact Zita Holbourne, BARAC Co-Chair by email: Barac.info@gmail.com  

Items needed include:   

Clothes: Mainly men’s but also women’s and children’s.  Small and medium size boxer shorts/ underwear, gloves, scarves, hats, waterproof coats, socks  and shoes (waterproof and size 7 or 8 men’s),  hoodies, jogging bottoms, fleeces.

Camping equipment:  Warm blankets, emergency blankets, sleeping bags, tarpaulin, ground mats, tent pegs, tents, camping stoves and gas cylinders, cooking pots, utensils, torches.
Toiletries: Sanitary towels, wipes, tooth brushes, toothpaste, anti-bacterial hand gel, shower gel, shampoo (including for African hair), razors, skin cream,  coconut oil, body butters including cocoa and shea, African hair products, halal toiletries.
Food in bulk supply:  Extra virgin olive oil, basmati rice, sea salt, fresh chillies, black pepper, fresh and powdered spices, coconut milk, vinegars, mustard, tahini, harissa, sumac, honey, dried fruit and nuts, dates, golden syrup, sugar, fresh garlic and ginger, fresh vegetables and fruit, tinned fish, long life mil, filter coffee, pulses and beans.
Mobile phones and sim cards. Washing up sponges / liquid, cleaning products, catering kitchen towel and cling film, large bin bags.

DONATION FORM   

To donate please complete and return this form together with a cheque or alternatively pay directly into our account bank account.  
  • I wish to give a donation towards BARAC’s humanitarian aid and solidarity work with refugees’ in  
France;  
    £250    £100      £50         £35         £25        £10       Other £ .….….….….….  
  • I enclose a cheque for a total of        £ ..........                   Payable to BARAC UK Or  
  • I have paid the following amount          £………..           into the BARAC Bank Account:  BARAC UK Bank details:  Barclays Bank    Sort Code: 20 67 90     Account No:  53317803  
 
Signature:                                                                                     Date:   
Name of Organisation (if applicable)   
Contact Name:                                                                      Position:  
Address:   
 
Tel no.:                                                                                      Email:   
Please return this donation form (and cheque) to:  
BARAC UK  
C/O Zita Holbourne, National Co-Chair BARAC UK  
PCS HQ, 160 Falcon Road, London,   
SW11 2LN  
Alternatively email to: barac.info@gmail.com  Thank you for your support   Web: www.blackactivistsrisingagainstcuts.blogspot.com   Twitter:  @baracuk       Facebook:  BARAC UK   

BMELAWYERS4GRENFELL FILE URGENT APPLICATION FOR PERMISSION TO APPLY FOR JUDICIAL REVIEW OF GRENFELL FIRE INQUIRY




**** BMELAWYERS4GRENFELL FILE URGENT APPLICATION FOR PERMISSION TO APPLY FOR JUDICIAL REVIEW OF GRENFELL FIRE INQUIRY ****

London, 12th September 2017: BMELawyers4Grenfell yesterday filed an urgent application for Judicial Review of the Grenfell Fire Inquiry, after expressing grave concerns that comprehensive justice would not be achieved for the victims and survivors of the fire and their families and local residents.
Despite numerous and repeated concerns from the survivors and families of the deceased for an expansion of the Inquiry’s Terms of Reference and the diversification of its Inquiry Team, as well as the appointment of a diverse panel to assist the Inquiry to ensure that the Inquiry is fully equipped to address issues surrounding race, austerity and issues surrounding the fire and its aftermath, Prime Minister Theresa May has failed, so far, to address their concerns, acknowledge correspondence, or maintain the promise of proper public consultation on the Inquiry’s parameters.
BMELawyers4Grenfell, an organisation comprised of some of the UK’s leading BME legal specialists, community justice groups, survivors and community members, is therefore urgently seeking Judicial Review of the failure of the PM to ensure that the Panel reflects the diverse ethnicity and faiths of the survivors and in particular to
  • Request that the PM confirms whether she will appoint other members to the Inquiry panel to guarantee it has the right level of ethnic diversity and expertise in the local government, scientific, technical, social and legal contributors that led to the fire.

“The Government’s response so far to a human tragedy of such magnitude on UK soil has been inept to say the least, and has inevitably added to the trauma and distress of individuals and the wider community” said Ismet Rawat, co-founder of BMELawyers4Grenfell and President of the Association of Muslim Lawyers. She added, “The fire in the Grenfell tower block is one of the worst collective losses of life seen in UK peace time, and yet three months later, we still have survivors displaced and homeless, with countless others psychologically scarred and under-supported by local authorities. It is therefore critical that the Inquiry is established robustly. Theresa May cannot allow it to be run in the shambolic fashion of the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse, which she announced on 7 July 2014.”
D. Peter Herbert OBE, co-founder of BMELawyers4Grenfell, said: “It is a mandatory part of the Inquiries Act 2005 that the Prime Minister, before the start of the Inquiry, states whether or not she “proposes to appoint other members to its panel”. Three months on from the fire, the Inquiry has been launched and a mandatory part of the statutory process has been ignored. The deceased and survivors deserve better. It is urgent that a statement is made with regards to the appointment, to minimalize further disruption and to ensure the Inquiry is carried out with the utmost diligence and transparency.”
Ranjit Sond, BMELawyers4Grenfell and The Society of Asian Lawyers, added: “Theresa May launched her premiership on the promise that she would ensure justice for all regardless of ethnicity, gender or religious conviction. It is important therefore, that when she makes her decision on the additional panel members she is guided by her duty under section 149 of the Equality Act 2010.
‘This requires that she has “due regard to the need to eliminate discrimination, advance quality of opportunity and foster good relations between persons who share a relevant protected characteristic and persons who do not share it.” This in particular, involves a commitment to tackling prejudice and promoting understanding. Given the context and the background of a large number of the victims, we argue that this can only be achieved with the appointment of an ethnically and religiously diverse panel, who have the relevant expertise to assist the Chair and ensure public trust and confidence in the Inquiry.”

ENDS

For further information please contact:
D Peter Herbert O.B.E – Society of Black Lawyers – 07973 794 946
Ismet Rawat – Association of Muslim Lawyers – 07852 146 056
Ranjit Sond – The Society of Asian Lawyers – 07725 523 186
Zita Holbourne – Black Activists Rising Against Cuts (BARAC) – 07711 861 660

Notes to Editors

About BMELawyers4Grenfell
BMELawyers4Grenfell are an umbrella group comprising of leading British BME lawyer and community justice groups – Society of Black Lawyers, Association of Muslim Lawyers, Society of Asian Lawyers, Blaksox, Black Activists Rising Against Cuts (BARAC) UK, Operation Black Vote (OBV)– who have been working, severally and jointly, for over 30 years in the pursuit of justice in our communities. We are joined and supported by survivors, residents, the community and volunteers.
Please visit: https://www.facebook.com/BMELawyers4Grenfell for further information

Wednesday, 2 August 2017

Press Release: Rashan Charles

Press  Release                Press Release

Rashan Charles Not In Possession of Illegal Drugs

The announcement by the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) that 20 year old Rashan Charles, who died after being arrested by a Metropolitan police officer in Dalston, Hackney, did not swallow illegal substances will come as a shock to many.

The rationale for the arrest and use of a neck hold restraint, as explained by the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS), was suspicion of possession of drugs and that Mr Charles had swallowed illegal substances.

The fact that no illegal drugs were found on Rashan Charles and that the item removed from his throat during his autopsy has proven not to be an illegal substance, throws into doubt not only the rationale for the stranglehold, but also  the legal basis of his arrest.

Public anxiety and concern will be heightened as a consequence of this new information as Rashan Charles joins the list of people who did not have to die as a result of police arrest or custody.

We call upon the MPS Commissioner, Cressida Dick to urgently review operational policing guidance to Metropolitan police officers, in relation to the arrest of citizens suspected of swallowing illegal substances.

In the light of the report published today by the MPS demonstrating the disproportional application of force used by officers when in contact with black Londoners, it is vital that the new Commissioner investigates the circumstances leading to Rashan Charles' death as a matter of urgency.


For further information please contact:
 Info@blaksox.com

Lee Jasper-07984 181 797

The Society of Black Lawyers (SBL)
The Association of Muslim Lawyers (AML)
BLAKSOX
The Society of Asian Lawyers
Black Activists Rising Against Cuts
Operation Black Vote

Thursday, 27 July 2017

Press Release: Failures of Grenfell Tower Public Inquiry consultation and lack of diversity






PRESS RELEASE       PRESS RELEASE     PRESS RELEASE      PRESS RELEASE         PRESS RELEASE

************************FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE************************

BMELAWYERS4GREENFELL & OTHERS TO CONSIDER JUDICIAL REVIEW (JR) AS A RESPONSE TO LACK OF CONSULTATION RE INQUIRY CHAIR & PANEL, LACK OF DIVERSITY OF BOTH & THEIR CHAOTIC & INSENSITIVE COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT MEETINGS ON TERMS OF REFERENCE


BMELAWYERS4GRENFELL, survivors, residents, community members and other groups remain extremely concerned about the lack of the promised consultation on the appointment of the Inquiry Chair, Sir Martin Moore-Bick.  This has been compounded by the complete lack of openness surrounding the appointment of his Inquiry Team. It has been further compounded by the lack of diversity – until last Thursday, the Team was all white with one female, when an Asian female barrister appeared to have been appointed. We do not challenge the ability of the Inquiry Team and Chair.  We do challenge their appropriateness for this phenomenally important Inquiry. This, and other concerns, have been repeatedly raised since 19 June 2017, via written communications and broadcast and print media but continues to be ignored. 

This is further compounded by the Team’s attempts at ‘community engagement’ designed to involve the community in the Terms of Reference and take note of community concerns.

Community consultation should be an effective mechanism for the survivors, their families, local residents and the community, to ensure that the Public Inquiry is both credible and that it inspires confidence. The huge loss of life means that a whole community has been devastated and traumatised. This process ought to have begun the process of healing and recovery for the community. Instead, they are being re-traumatised. 

3 meetings: 19 July, 20 July and 25 July 2017.  The first two held outside of the community. None properly advertised. Community members and groups had to fill this void to ensure that people attended. The meetings were extremely poorly designed and managed and without any agenda, resulting in chaos - which will no doubt be blamed on those attending. No interpreters were provided for survivors and their families and no counsellors arranged to support them during and after the meeting. 

A more disorganised and incompetent consultation process could not have been devised if they had planned to do so and further shines a light on the need for diversity. At each of the meetings, one attendee after another expressed their distress about this and their lack of confidence, calling for the Chair and Team to resign or, at the very least, appoint, on their merits, a panel of suitably qualified BME professionals, of whom there are many.

At the final meeting, 25 July 2017, approximately 150 people were forced to share one microphone. The panel did not introduce themselves properly or explain the format of the meeting. Those who shouted the loudest were heard, more than once. No consideration was given to the survivors and survivor’s families in attendance, some of whom were clearly traumatised and crying during the meeting. They and the vast majority of attendees left traumatised and distressed. They felt patronised. They felt they were not listened to.  The little confidence they had was shattered. They were left deeply concerned that justice would not be seen to be done. Again, it was left to the community to support the survivors.

BMELAWYERS4GRENFELL have attended all the meetings. Its members have significant experience of community engagement and Inquiries. The Public Inquiry consultation process is fundamentally flawed for the following reasons:-

  1. It has failed to properly advertise meetings, despite ample contact sources, including the “Gold” group command;
  2. There has been complete disregard as to how people will attend these meetings and failure to provide any transport from hotels for survivors and families to attend. In contrast, this group provided transport 29 June 2017 for the local community to attend the meeting at the House of Commons, Chaired by Diane Abbott MP;
  3. It has failed to provide any mental health trauma counsellors to prepare survivors and families for the meetings or to be on standby during and after the meetings to cope with the extremely distressing and triggering content of these meetings. The impact on mental illness and exacerbation of trauma has been negligently ignored;
  4. It has failed to provide for any silence for reflection or spiritual space at the start of the meeting given the significant proportion of survivors who hold to a religious faith;
  5. It has failed to provide any leaflets, or agendas for the meetings to enable a structured approach to be followed;
  6. It has failed to provide any leaflets or website in any language but English despite being aware of the diversity of the community; Farsi, Arabic, Pashtu, and Amharic are the first languages of some 50% of survivors. It had failed to offer or provide interpreters to make meetings more inclusive.
  7. It has failed to provide any questionnaires available on line in a multi lingual format for people who could not access the meetings to comment on the Terms of Reference, composition of the panel and the format of the Inquiry;
  8. The Chair and Inquiry team have repeatedly refused to answer key questions asked by the community, including how they were appointed and what qualifications they possess to justify their appointments;
  9. The Chair and Inquiry team have failed to conduct the meetings with any apparent sense of empathy for the survivors and local community, or their cultural needs. This has been noted and commented upon by attendees who were visibly distressed by this.

D Peter Herbert O.B.E., barrister and Chair of the Society of Black Lawyers commented:

“AS BME Lawyers and community engagement experts we were appalled at the amateurish approach of the Inquiry team and Chair who did not appear to have a clue as to how to engage with such a diverse multi faith community. The audience were in turn patronised, and treated with thinly disguised disdain or pity that did little to engender any trust & confidence. The failure to reach out in a meaningful manner undermines the Inquiry from the outset, as many voices were simply not heard in the chaos that ensued. The responsibility for this mess lies with the Public Inquiry team and not with this traumatised community which deserves far better than this after such a horrific event.”

Ismet Rawat, barrister & President of the Association of Muslim Lawyers commented:

“Anyone who still questions the need for diversity should take a long hard look at how this process has been conducted to date and the repeated failures to acknowledge or respond to the concerns that have been very clearly conveyed. The survivors, their families and the community are being repeatedly re-victimised and re-traumatised.  The negligence in the handling of this process and abrogation of any duty of care is deeply worrying. Furthermore, the cries for the Chair and the Inquiry Team to stand down are a direct consequence of their continuing failure to inspire trust and confidence in the local community due to their insensitive handling of this key process. A real opportunity has been lost by the Chair and the Inquiry team to show that they can deliver justice for the people of Grenfell. Judicial Review was always going to be the last step.  It may now be the only step which will be listened to.”

Zita Holbourne,Chair BARAC UK commented: 

"There were many people attending who were visibly traumatised but there was nothing put in place to help people through the meeting, as has become a pattern it was left to the community to support each other. The panel did not set out clearly the remit or format for the meeting & it became evident during the course of it that this was much needed. The panel were reluctant to answer questions with Sir Martin Moore-Bick stating that they were only prepared to listen not respond, within minutes of him saying this, appallingly another panel member ordered the attendees to be quiet. There was a complete lack of sympathy, empathy or humanity demonstrated by the Inquiry panel which is quite unacceptable given what survivors, families, residents and the community and going through. It's no wonder that there is zero confidence."

Lee Jasper, former Race Adviser to the Mayor of London commented:

“This chaotic and mismanaged community consultation led by the Chair & his Team makes a mockery of the good practice developed over the last thirty years and is an insult to those that have died and suffered so much in this atrocity. A consultation that makes no attempt to communicate with the survivors, in a manner that is sensitive to their religious, language and cultural needs, with no logistical assistance to attend meetings or a questionnaire only permits for the loudest voices to be heard. That is a fundamentally flawed consultation that flies in the face of the lessons learnt from the Stephen Lawrence Inquiry. These failures are all the more astonishing as they have occurred with the close involvement of the Prime Ministers Cabinet office at the highest levels of the civil service.”

For further information please contact:

Ismet.rawat@gmail.com
Barac.info@gmail.com


D Peter Herbert – SBL: 07973 794 946;
Ismet Rawat - A.M.L: 07852 146 056;
Zita Holbourne – BARAC UK: 07711 861660
Viv Ahmun - Blaksox: 07985 395 166;