English classes: the key to integration

by Dr Jenny Philimore For many years now politicians and the tabloids have pointed to so-called self-segregation of migrants and their alleged reluctance to speak English as responsible for their lack of integration into economy and society in the UK. As a result much policy focus has been placed on trying to encourage cross-community connections and linking applications for citizenship to ability to speak English. New research from the Institute for Research into Superdiversity, University of Birmingham, and the University of Cardiff provides evidence showing that for refugees at least, there is no reality behind the rhetoric. Using survey data – the [more]

Latin American Regimes

  An overview of a troubled past   By Tania Farias “From the deep crucible of the homeland. The people's voices rise up. The new day comes over the horizon. All Chile breaks out in song…” claims the first verse of We Will Triumph, a supporting song for the Popular Unity coalition led by Salvador Allende in Chile. According to the Revolutionary Democracy journal (2003) the Chilean songwriter and activist Víctor Jara sang this song defiantly after having been violently tortured in the Chilean Stadium (renamed later Víctor Jara Stadium). He had been arrested – and five days later assassinated - because of his [more]

Asylum seeker pregnancy: a very sad situation

By Tania Farias Pregnancy is a very special state for a woman, one which requires complex and specialist care to assure the well–being of both, the mother and the unborn child. Pregnancy is also a time to share and be cheerful with family and friends. However, not every woman can enjoy such a protective support and some of them are exposed to very unstable situations. A pregnant asylum seeker under the support of sections 4, 95 or 98 of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999 will be offered accommodation and financial support but she won’t be exempt from UKBA dispersal policies, meaning [more]

Reflections: Through the eyes of a refugee

By Mercedes What do I hear when I listen to the city, when I look to the future in this place that surrounds me? I see a neighbourhood of multiple languages, cultures, sounds, and fragrances. I see a woman wishing to tell the city that she and her child crossed the ocean and several continents to feel secure. She did not want to hear the screams of people running from the effects of war, hunger and disease. She wants to explain that she doesn’t understand what happened. Her town was peaceful before the modern tanks and men in strange clothes speaking strange [more]

Each journey entails a hundred possibilities

By Kate Monkhouse Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) works with refugees and other forcibly displaced people, promoting their rights and providing a range of direct services. In London, JRS UK runs a weekly day centre at its base in Wapping, where each week up to 120 refugees come for lunch, some practical help and to share the joys and sadness of life in this country. In carrying out its activities JRS UK works in partnership with like-minded organisations, such as English PEN, a free speech and literature charity that campaigns to defend and promote free expression. English PEN’s trainers have run several creative [more]

From Sri Lanka With Surgical Skills

Vicky Ilankovan interviews her father Since I was eight I wanted to be a doctor. I still remember using pencils as injection cylinders and giving people sachets of powder from the kitchen to make them feel better. The concept of doing something to help people has always fascinated me. However, the year that I was to enter medical school in Sri Lanka was the year the policy of standardisation came into force. This meant that Tamils needed substantially higher marks than Sinhalese in order to get into university. For example, Tamils needed 250 points to get into medical school whereas the Sinhalese [more]


My Anti-Crime Campaign

By: Khadija Abdelhamid

“RIP bro, just an indicator of the wasted values of the world we live in today, where a pair of trainers are held by some sick individuals to be more valuable than a man’s life” – Omar Farooq Begg, posted on Facebook after the tragic death of 18-year-old Seydou Diarrassouba, victim of an Oxford Street stabbing in late 2011.

Khadija Abdelhamid

London has become a landmark when it comes to crime. According to the Metropolitan Police, 7,006 firearm offences were recorded in England and Wales in 2010/11. In 2010/11, the police recorded 32,714 of these offences (including homicides) involving a knife or sharp instrument.

These statistics show the reality of gun and knife crime in the UK. Of course, everyone has their own opinion about why gun and knife crime is on the rise. From broken homes to absentee father figures, financial issues to peer pressure, childhood abuse and more.

However as a young anti-crime campaigner myself, with no experience of losing a loved one, I believe I could be a victim of discrimination, simply because of the crimes that the teens of my generation commit. This is a stereotype I’m hoping to change. The fact that I’ve never been associated with a gang or lost a loved one to gun and knife crime, should start to portray a positive image about youths.

I grew up aspiring to be like people who have changed the world, people who had a passion to spread peace and equality. The more I looked up to others that made a small or big change in the world, the more I aspired to follow in their footsteps, but I must also remember that I must make a different change, one that has not been made yet. Like Oscar Wilde said, “Be yourself, everyone else is taken.”

My passion for my campaign became official on 31st January 2011; I started a Facebook group with over 1,000 followers. I started to attend anti-crime events, and I have now been approached by a film company to produce an anti-gun and knife crime DVD for my campaign, which will distributed across London high schools and anti-crime events once finished.

Only three months into my campaign, the issue of gun and knife crime tragically reached close to home when a person I knew lost a loved one. I have given my campaign drive, motivation and determination to achieve the success it has reached today. I travelled an emotional journey, meeting with families who’ve lost a loved one to gun and knife crime only furthering my ambition to reduce gun and knife crime in the UK .