Thursday, 2 August 2012

Dates in the Square - Wk2 - Poverty

The second of the 2012 "Dates in the Square" events, held on 1st August, focussed on poverty and included a short talk by Maqsood Ahmed (who is working on issues of community welfare at Muslim Hands) and also by Archdeacon Peter Hill.

Valerie's Story
Sajid Mohammed, chairnan of Himmah, who organised this event, began proceedings by describing the situation of Valerie (who had been unable to attend). Valerie had been working full time until 3years ago when she lost her job and was living in a flat on the 10th floor of a tower block. Her son, who had mental health issues, was also living there and the two of them had to survive on just £60 per week. Every time there was a knock on the door, Valerie would wonder "is that a bill?" and if the weather became cold she would have to ask herself "can I afford to put the heating on?". Sajid explained that this was the reality for many of those at the bottom of the economic pileand he spoke a few words to explain how the event was to encourage people to “”become friends with each other, to know each other, respect each other and to live in harmony in this great city”.

It was great to see so many different demographics represented at the event
Maqsood Ahmed OBE
Maqsood has recently joined the Nottingham based charity Muslim Hands after a career in the local and national civil service where he advised on community and equality issues. His LinkedIn page describes his vocation as being "To Help Human Beings in all aspects of life. Poverty alleviation and equal rights".

He described how his focus at Muslim Hands is going to be on issues relating to deprivation in the Muslim and wider communities. Taking one example, he described how the proportion of Muslims in prison had risen disproportionately in recent years and said that the the Muslim community was in denial about this issue. Mosques do not have the capacity to help offenders returning to society and the general Muslim community isn't helping them either.

Maqsood also outlined other issues such as education and the empowering of women as being areas that he wished to devote time and resources to.

(L-R) : Sajid Mohammed, Archdeacon Peter Hill, Maqsood Ahmed
Archdeacon Peter Hill
Peter began his reflection by outlining some of the statistics relating to povery in Nottingham, including the fact that some 42,000 children were in homes where no parent worked or where parents were in very low wage jobs.

Looking at the emotional impact of poverty he pointed out that poverty "robs people of human dignity, reduces life chances and damages health"

Peter explained that the council was aware of the scale of the problem and that some policies, such as the "early intevention strategy" which had been championed by Nottingham North MP Graham Bright, had really made a difference.

After outlining some of the initiatives that the Christian community was running to help those in poverty (Foodbanks, debt councelling, welfare advisors, the Archdeacon pointed out that to both the Muslim and Christian communitites "faith without action is dead" and mentioned a Muslim tradition that says:

"He who sleeps on a full stomach while his neighbour is hungry is not one of us"

and also a quote from Mother Theresa to give a Christian perspective:

"If you give what you don't need then you are not giving"

No3 Son (whose arm is pictured) is growing
somewhat faster than we anticipated


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