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Statement on Westminster Terror Attack

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Qari Asim, MBE, Imam of Leeds Makkah Mosque

“Today, London has witnessed horrific and depraved acts of murder.

The terrorist attack was designed to maximize casualties and create terror and chaos at the very heart of the capital and at the home of British democracy.

We must be clear that those who take innocent lives are not following the teachings of any religion and have no regard for any religion or humanity. These depraved terrorists are not following a path to paradise, as in Islam the taking of a single innocent life is considered as being akin to the killing of the whole of humanity.

This vile attack is an attack on all of us, regardless of race or religion. We must stand united against such extreme, evil and distorted ideologies and work together to defeat terrorism in all its forms.

The aim of terrorist attacks such as these is to divide communities and incite hatred amongst people of different beliefs and backgrounds. We have already seen vile opportunists using the victims of the Westminster terrorist attack to spread anti-Muslim hatred. I urge communities to remain united and even more determined to eradicate all forms of terrorism.

I am deeply saddened by the loss of lives at Westminster and express full solidarity with the victims of the attack. I convey my sincere condolences to the families of those who have lost their lives.”

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Save Tetley Field Campaign – Help Needed this Week

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Having seen off the threat of the latest Planning Application, the campaign has not persuaded Leeds City Council to withdraw Tetley Field from its Site Allocation Plan (SAP).

The challenge is to present such a persuasive case that it will be found unacceptable to promote Tetley Field as a site suitable for housing development – even with further reduced capacity.

The alliance of residents’ associations will submit a formal objection on behalf of all residents and on the advice of its planning advisor. To make the strongest possible case it is asking individual supporters to write a short objection using the key issues below and adding your own personal views about the damage to the two conservation areas and loss of green belt.

The deadline to submit objections Monday 27th March 2017

The quickest way to lodge your objections is by email rather than via the council’s online form.  Here’s how to do it:

  1. Head the email subject box “SAP – ref HG2-49 off Weetwood Avenue objection”
  2. Please send your objection to sap@leeds.gov.uk
  3. Copy it to info@sogtetleyfield.comso that the campaign can keep track of your support
  4. You could also copy it to your local councillorsand MPs the links will take you to the Leeds City Council website where you can find their email addresses.
  1. Draft your objection using the following key points:

I/We consider that the proposed amendments to the Site Allocation Plan are unsound because:-

  • The SAP entirely disregards the objections of 1,500 local residents and statutory consultees including the Civic Trust, Heritage England and Yorkshire Wildlife Trust to the loss of this important Green Belt site, ref HG2-49 off Weetwood Avenue.
  • The SAP changes highlight the serious harm that development will cause to the Green Belt, open natural space, Urban Green Corridor, 2 Conservation Areas and to local heritage and ecology.
  • The failure of the recent Planning Application for this site confirms that housing development is unsound. The Council has been inconsistent and driven by commercial interests rather than sound and proper planning considerations.
  • Retaining this site as Green Belt will not compromise the City’s housing target.
  • Local people feel totally misled by the whole process but continue to seek to protect their urban realm and Meanwood Valley from rapacious housing development.
  1. Be sure to include your full name and address to ensure your    objection is accepted.

If you have questions or requests for help and guidance do feel free to contact info@sogtetleyfield.com

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The Chevin Cross

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Installed for the first time in 1968, the cross on The Chevin, has become a well recognised Easter symbol. The brainchild of the Otley Council of Christian Churches, it is a fine example of a co-operative initiative, which has become a source of inspiration for many. It has been erected every Easter since (except in 2001 during the Foot & Mouth outbreak).

At least 50 people are needed to pull the cross into place at Surprise View above Otley (Grid Ref. SE 203442). This year the cross will be erected on 1st April at 9.30am. All helpers need to be at Surprise View for around 9.15am.

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Public Meeting Hosted by Leeds for Europe

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 Leeds for Europe, a group campaigning for Britain to remain in the European Union, is hosting a public meeting ‘Brexit – What Next?’ on Saturday 18th March, 2pm in the Council Chamber of Leeds Civic Hall.

The meeting will discuss the likely implications of a UK exit from the European Union and what needs to be done to avert a damaging ‘Hard Brexit’. The speakers will be Richard Corbett MEP and Professor Michael Dougan, an expert on European Union Law from the University of Liverpool. They will speak for about forty minutes, after which there will be time for questions.

There will also be a brief presentation by Leeds for Europe. Founded in October 2016 as a Facebook Group, the group has grown rapidly and now meets regularly and campaigns against Brexit in the city centre every Saturday. It is affiliated to Britain for Europe and is in the process of affiliating to the European Movement.

Email: info@leedsforeurope.org

www.leedsforeurope.org

 

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North Leeds Music Centre Celebrates 50 Years

The Walters from Meanwood who have been involved with North Leeds Music Centre as students, helpers and teaching staff

The Walters from Meanwood who have been involved with North Leeds Music Centre as students, helpers and teaching staff

North Leeds Music Centre is celebrating bringing music to North Leeds of 50 years with a free concert on Saturday 18th March, 3pm, at Allerton C of E Primary School.

Performing at the concert will be musicians from the current Training Orchestra, Concert Band, String Orchestra and Senior Orchestra – plus a special ensemble of past students and staff led by David Bellwood, who was orchestra conductor from 1986 to 2006.

Since 1967, thousands of children and adults have passed through the doors of North Leeds Music Centre (formerly known as Scott Hall Music Centre and North West Leeds Music Centre) on Saturday mornings, to learn an instrument, play in an ensemble, and discover the joy of making music.

It is one of seven music centres across the city providing local communities with music tuition for all ages.

“This concert is a wonderful chance to celebrate the centre’s proud history and on-going success”, said Councillor Lisa Mulherin, executive member for children and families. Thousands of children and adults have passed through the doors over the past 50 years, to discover the enjoyment that making music can bring.”

Ex-students are also being sought to join in with the alumni ensemble or share their old photos, programmes etc. More information can be obtained by contacting the head of centre, Mark Sturdy, on 0113 378 2850 or north.leeds.music.centre@leeds.gov.uk.

 

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Playhouse Awarded Grant to Develop Festival of Theatre & Dementia

Singing session for people living with dementia Photography by Anthony Robling (4)

West Yorkshire Playhouse has been awarded £99,950 by Arts Council England National Lottery funding to produce a Festival of Theatre and Dementia.

Exploring the experience of living with dementia through creative activity, the Festival will create new opportunities for older people living with dementia, collaborating with them as curators and performers. People living with dementia will play integral roles in shaping the Festival, including its events and performances and how it reaches different communities around Leeds, West Yorkshire and beyond.

“This award builds on our reputation as the UK’s foremost dementia friendly theatre, having introduced the world’s first dementia friendly performance in 2014”, said James Brining, West Yorkshire Playhouse Artistic Director. “The creative arts are a fantastic way of supporting people to express themselves and connect with others, and we are delighted to open up our theatre to people affected by this condition.”

Community Development Manager, Nicky Taylor, said: “We anticipate that the Festival will bring opportunities for discussion and debate about dementia, to challenge stereotypes, and to provide a creative and fun opportunity for people with dementia to explore making and enjoying theatre. While people with dementia face huge challenges, feeling connected and valued by their community can have an enormous impact on feelings of confidence and self-worth.”

West Yorkshire Playhouse will be working in partnership with non-arts partners and collaborating with visiting arts companies to deliver the Festival. This will include joining forces with education organisations on research and practice, as well as dementia care programmes, consultancies and steering groups.

The Festival will address many perspectives on dementia, from care providers to families, children and young people, academics and most importantly people living with dementia.

“When I was diagnosed with dementia I thought my life was over, but taking part in all the creative activities at the Playhouse has been brilliant”, said Bob Fulcher, who participates in the Playhouse’s programme of activities. “My life is actually better now than before I had dementia, because I’m taking opportunities and meeting people. My life is good.”

The Festival programme itself will offer a range of opportunities to engage, discuss and learn about what dementia means to us in today’s society, as well as a range of theatre productions. It will include workshops to engage care staff, families affected by dementia and artists making work about dementia; participatory sessions to engage people living with dementia creatively; panel events and discussions focusing on specific aspects of dementia; and dementia friendly training opportunities for care staff and families to support the creativity of people with dementia.

It will also include a new full length play, and three short plays created by people with dementia, which will be performed at the Playhouse before touring to care homes.

The Playhouse’s innovative approach has been recognised with national awards from the Alzheimer’s Society and National Dementia Care. Most recently, the Playhouse presented the ‘Strictly Ballroom – The Musical’ dementia friendly performance to over 450 attendees, as well as sharing it’s model with other UK theatres to encourage the development of a national movement of dementia friendly performances.

The grant will enable the Playhouse to develop its work with people living with dementia, as well as develop new partnerships with both arts and non-arts organisations and relationships within the community.

 

 

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Yorkshire Women of Achievement Awards – Recognising Amazing Women

Julie Russell and Jackie Roberts

Julie Russell and Jackie Roberts

Sue Ryder Wheatfields Hospice’s Yorkshire Women of Achievement Awards are all about unsung heroines – ordinary women doing extraordinary and inspiring things.

This year the awards take place on Friday 12th May at the Royal Armouries. Inspirational women across the region have been nominated in the categories of Business, Education, Sport, Young Achiever of the Year, the Jane Tomlinson Award for Courage, and the Community Impact Award.

There are also two exciting new categories this year – Arts, and Science and Technology. The Arts category recognises women in areas such as music, theatre, dance, art and literature; the Science and Technology category areas such as I.T. engineering, research and development, environmental work and the manufacturing industry.

Jackie Roberts won last year’s Jane Tomlinson Courage award, said the event was a unique occasion. A prominent supporter of the Royal Life Saving Society (RLSS) UK, Jackie has raised thousands of pounds for the charity following the drowning death of her daughter Megan in 2014 and has helped others who have suffered similar losses.

Megan was a student when she suddenly lost her life in the river”, said Jackie. “I took all my energy and love for my child and channeled it into doing something positive. You have to do whatever gets you through and that felt right for me. The Awards ceremony was amazing. It was one of the most emotional moments of my life. I was so shocked, tears in my eyes. It was overwhelming”.

Sue Ryder Wheatfields Hospice’s Women of Achievement Awards are one of Yorkshire’s most celebrated regional events. Each year the hospice spends £4.4m to provide specialist end of life and palliative care to people living in Leeds and receive only 44% in statutory funds for the care services it offers.

Booking for the event is now open. Tickets cost £60 each or £550 for a table of ten. For more information, contact Faye Cryer on 0113 203 3338 or visit www.sueryder.org/YWOA

66Kate Love YWOA2016

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‘Every Daffodil Counts’ this March

 

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Every year in March, Marie Curie, the charity which cares for people living with a terminal illness, hold their annual Great Daffodil Appeal. This year Marie Curie is appealing for support in Leeds.

Marie Curie nurses care for people in Leeds in their own homes from 10pm until 7am. They provide hands on care and emotional support as well as allowing loved ones some much needed rest. The charity has also launched a telephone support line and has lots of information about living with a terminal illness available on their website mariecurie.org.uk/help

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Jen Aspinall, Community Fundraiser for Marie Curie in Leeds, is asking people across the city to support the Great Daffodil Appeal in whatever way they can this March; “Marie Curie are appealing for support in Leeds so that we can continue providing services, which are completely free of charge to people living with a terminal illness and their families, when they need it most.”

How can you help?

  • Sign up to volunteer for two hours or more at Great Daffodil Appeal collection. Marie Curie has a huge street collection planned in Leeds City Centre on Friday 31st March and lots of others across the city. You can sign up online on our website mariecurie.org.uk/daffodil/daffodil-2017 or contact the fundraising team on 01274 386190. Why not bring your friends, family or colleagues with you and challenge each other to raise the most for Marie Curie? Will your employer allow you time away from work to volunteer as part of their Corporate Social Responsibility policy? Does your employer run a match funding scheme where they match whatever you raise for charity? Or do you know someone who can sing, dance or has a talent to entertain the public at one of Marie Curie’s street collections? If so we would love to hear from you!
  • Would your organisation have a box of daffodil pin badges on their reception? For a small donation your colleagues and customers can purchase a daffodil to raise vital funds and awareness of Marie Curie Great Daffodil Appeal in March.
  • If you have an idea of your own, or need a little inspiration to raise funds in your own way you can order a fundraising pack full of ideas online at mariecurie.org.uk/daffodil/fundraising. Your local Community fundraiser will be more than happy to support you, provide materials and advice to make whatever you plan a huge success.

 

For more information please contact Jen Aspinall, Marie Curie Community Fundraiser on 01274 386190 or email Jennifer.aspinall@mariecurie.org.uk.

 

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Leeds Mencap’s Corporate Challenge Is Back!

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Zurich Insurance Company signing up with Catherine Storey, Leeds Mencap

 

The Leeds Mencap Apprentice challenge is back for a fourth year and seeking creative, entrepreneurial teams to battle it out for the top spot. Just how much money could you make in seven weeks with just a £50 loan?

As well as providing a fantastic opportunity to improve team working and fulfil corporate social responsibility aims, taking part in the challenge also raises much-needed funds to support people with learning disabilities.

 

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Winston’s Solicitors 2016 Apprentice Challenge winners

 

Several teams have already signed up and are raring to go. Last year’s winners, Winston’s Solicitors, have entered for the fourth time hoping to retain their crown. Joining them are the HSBC Service Recovery team, Zurich Insurance Company, a Leeds Mencap team, and Re:Work an office furniture company. With more teams to come, the competition is going to be tough!

“This challenge is an enjoyable and fresh way for businesses to make a social impact, meet their internal engagement objectives and do something for a worthwhile cause,” said Mark Goldstone, Head of Business Representation & Policy, West & North Yorks Chamber of Commerce and Judge on Leeds Mencap Apprentice. “I would urge chamber businesses to get a team together and get involved.”

Leeds Mencap is inviting both large and small businesses to take part. For further information, call 0113 235 1331, or email catherine.storey@leedsmencap.org.uk or jenny.hill@leedsmencap.org.uk

 

 

 

 

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Comment from Qari Asim: Muslims are the New Scapegoats

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As Trump closes the doors of the US to Muslims with his travel ban, British Muslims have opened the doors of their mosques to welcome everyone -irrespective of faith, belief, background and age.

This week has seen some of the largest marches in recent history, across the world, against Donald Trump’s executive order to temporarily block travel for immigrants from seven Muslim-majority countries- Iran, Iraq, Syria, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen. It also stopped the admission of all refugees to the US for 120 days. The weeklong protests are preceded still by the global Women’s March, immediately following Trump’s inauguration day.

The #MuslimBan order is bigoted and discriminatory; it is encouraging that a federal judge in Seattle has temporarily suspended the executive order. Trump’s fierce attempt to overturn the legal decision is disappointing. The order has resulted in fear, anxiety and stigmatisation of many families and homes because of their religion. The executive order is not only a full-frontal assault on the civil rights of Muslim citizens in the US, it is a dangerous and self-defeating policy. It purports the attacks of 9/11 as a rationale for such a replusive ban, whist exempting the countries of origin of all the hijackers who carried out that plot. However, no citizens from those war torn seven countries has ever committed terror on US soil. Terrorism doesn’t have a nationality; Since 9/11 more Americans have been killed by home grown right-wing extremists than by terrorists from any Muslim country.

The Muslim travel ban is insulting, divisive and regressive to say the least. The timing of the order is ironic as it was issued on the eve of holocaust memorial day. Holocaust did not begin with gas chambers, but with a culture of hate, the crime of indifference and conspiracies of silence. The treatment of Muslims parallels with how Jewish refugees fleeing Nazi persecution were treated in the 1930s and 1940s are obvious. The prevailing rhetoric about Muslim refugees is identical to that used to demonize Jews during the World War II. The Daily Mail’s 2015 cartoon showing Muslim refugees as rats perfectly tracked a 1939 cartoon in a Viennese newspaper depicting Jews the same way. Prince Charles, in an address this week, said the lessons of World War II were in “increasing danger” of being forgotten.

The counterproductive travel ban is a gift to the extremists – both ISIS and ultra-right nationalists. Only a few hours after Trump’s order of ‘Muslim Ban’ came into effect, the Islamic Centre of Victoria in Texas was burned to the ground. The deadly shooting at Quebec City Islamic Cultural Centre, resulting in the brutal murder of six Muslims is shining a light on the ugly truth of Islamophobia that Muslims have to experience. These attacks are not isolated incidents. Many mosques in the UK and across Europe have been attacked in recent years. Violent attacks such as these highlight the critical importance of combating anti-Muslim hatred which is being promoted by the far right in recent years by spreading misinformation about Muslims. Islamophobia has been legitimised by populist leaders in recent political campaigns. The British Government recognises the threat posed to places of worship including mosques, and last year announced a grant of £2.4m to help places of worship install security and safety equipment to prevent hate crime.

As the world feels under threat by ISIS affiliates, the Muslim communities not only feel threatened by ISIS affiliates but also by populist leaders and far right sympathisers – Muslims feel more vulnerable now than ever before. When populist leaders, including the President of the US, makes it acceptable to hate people, or bar people from entering the US merely on the grounds of their religion or identity, it is not surprising that Islamophobia is on the rise.

The outpouring of support thousands of people marching in their cities against the ‘Muslim ban’ has restored belief in humanity. Exposing the ill thought out policy of Trump and the sharing of immigrant stories by thousands have been heart-warming. Political and religious leaders, sports personalities, as well as celebrities issuing statements of support for Muslims, has been overwhelming. It was profoundly emotional and encouraging to see people of all faiths and none forming a human chain around a mosque in Haringey this Friday as a gesture of solidarity in the wake of a deadly attack in Quebec and Donald Trump’s travel ban.

At a time of increased concerns about a climate of hostility, mosques throughout Britain opened their doors last weekend (Sunday 5 February). #VisitMyMosque initiative is aimed at reducing misconceptions about Islam and Muslims in Britain. These events will also highlight how local mosques are helping their local communities and fostering communal relations. The senseless violence caused by terrorists, the slowly-creeping fascism, the politics of hatred and the ‘them’ -v-‘us’ narrative can only be defeated by communities standing together, protecting each other’s liberties and striving for the flourishing of humanity.

By Qari Asim, MBE
Senior Imam Makkah Mosque, Leeds
@QariAsim

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