15 YEARS ON FROM 7/7, SALAAM PEACE IS STILL BREAKING DOWN BARRIERS

The events of 7/7 on the streets of central London led to the formation of one of our capital’s most successful community sports engagement programmes. 15 years on, it continues to inspire as a multi-award-winning community sports initiative. Not even the current lockdown has forced it off its ambitious programme.

Salaam Peace was founded by Dr Sabir Bham. He’d been standing at Liverpool Street station 24 hours before those July 7th events, celebrating London winning the 2012 Olympics/Paralympics. The following day came the bombings, one of them at that same station. The hostility Sabir experienced in their aftermath as a British Muslim, on the streets and using the tube, led him to set up a national football initiative called the Eid Cup. It aimed to break down barriers between diverse communities, forming the basis of what became Salaam Peace.

Salaam Peace is a community engagement programme that uses a mixture of sport and social education to bring together people of all ages from diverse cultural backgrounds. The programme works mainly with two local councils with high deprivation and diverse communities, Waltham Forest, and Hackney, as well as many other schools, Trusts, and academies. Where there is a need to provide enjoyable and fulfilling community programmes through sport, programmes that encourage social and cultural cohesion, Salaam Peace are there.
With its motto of “Be the change in the community we want to see” the guiding principles that run through all its work are:

  1. building from the bottom, encouraging participants to be managers
  2. community cohesion
  3. a multi-ethnic approach

Salaam Peace builds from the ground floor up, investing time in the communities around them. They develop local role models who start as participants and progress to become leaders. It tackles issues that could lead to communities becoming polarised, for those at risk of anti-social behaviour or have been in the criminal justice system. It works in all communities, of all faiths and none.

As lockdown became a reality, Salaam Peace had already changed its ways of engaging with its core participants, approx. 250 per week aged 3-65 years old:

  • filming tutorials, videos, and infomercials, ensuring those that rely on engagement in Salaam Peace programmes were still communicating with us
  • distributing board games, sports equipment, and books, to give families as much as possible to keep mind and body actively engaged. This was enhanced by the funding streams above
  • piloting non-contact socially distanced sessions, to encourage policy makers to allow organisations to deliver major projects on the ground.

Some of its awards won recently have been:

  1. Mayor of London’s “Sport United” award, 2019 London Sports Awards
  2. “Sport for Social Growth” Award, 2019 British Sports Awards
  3. South England winner, 2020 Corporate LiveWire Prestige Awards
  4. Azi Mohammed – “Young Leader with Impact award”, 2020 London Impact Awards
  5. Agne Daunoraviciute – “Young Leader with Impact award”, 2020 London Impact Awards

Reflecting on the past 15 years, founding director Dr Sabir Bham says: “I began my volunteering journey at the age of 14 and was brought up with the belief that if something needs to be done then do not wait for anyone else. This has stuck with me throughout my life, and formed our mission statement of Salaam Peace, “Be the change in the community you want to see.” Through continued hard work, passion and a strong team of people around me we have had an impact in our community. Despite our successes, this ground-breaking work is needed now more than ever”.

Dr Sabir Bham and members of the Salaam Peace team are available for interview or filming at their community programmes by request. Please contact Sabir on sab@salaampeace.org or 07949 983500.