Be the Change Awards Press release written By Mayor Saima Mahumd

BACK-DROP FOR SALAAM PEACE

Fourteen years ago, nearly 3,000 people were killed in the terror strikes at the World Trade Centre, the Pentagon and in Pennsylvania. The World watched, traumatized, by images of people jumping out of windows, some from the 106th floor of the World Trade Centre, to escape the heat and suffocating smoke as the building burned and collapsed around them. 1,140 more deaths have been linked to the attack on the Twin Towers that day – people who worked, lived, or studied in  Lower Manhattan at the time of the attack have been diagnosed with cancer as a result of “exposure to toxins at Ground Zero”. Over 1,400 emergency response/rescue workers who responded to the scene in the days and months after the attacks have since died.

People, on a global scale, came together to condemn the attacks that occurred that day and, in its aftermath, began to ask questions such as “what could possibly lead a person to act with such callous indifference towards the life of another human being?” The American President at the time, George W. Bush, used a lot of biblical rhetoric in his speeches, such as “Good” versus “Evil” and believed that the terror attacks had invoked the wrath of a vengeful God and that he had the responsibility of carrying out God’s plan to combat Evil in the Middle East and at home.  During this so-called biblical war, we saw a sharp rise in the number of hate crime incidents in communities across the USA and in Europe.

Faith communities were among the first to come together and reject hate and the call for vengeance and called instead for the spreading of messages of peace and harmony. Community initiatives were developed and run by grass roots organizations in churches, mosques, synagogues, temples, school halls and parks to counter the polarization (and further isolation) of communities that occurred in the weeks and months after the attacks. After the 7/7 terrorist attacks in London in 2005, there was again a call for greater collaboration between diverse communities to promote values of respect, tolerance and understanding in neighbourhoods across the country.

In Waltham Forest, a town with one of the most diverse populations in the United Kingdom, Sabir Bham developed a community project called ‘Salaam Peace’ that would use sports-based initiatives as a way of bringing people together from diverse backgrounds and tackling issues that could lead to communities becoming polarized by, for example, promoting positive images of Islam.

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Through his work, Sabir uses every possible opportunity to shine a light on the achievements of members of the community who also work tirelessly to promote community cohesion and human values such as fairness, kindness and compassion. The active and dedicated volunteers at Salaam Peace mentor and inspire young people to achieve their full potential and ‘give back’ to the community.

The Salaam Peace ‘Be the Change’ Awards Ceremony was one such event – a fantastic opportunity to showcase the work of local volunteers and to thank them for their persistent efforts to bring people together to promote cohesion and celebrate community. Young people and adults from all faiths and backgrounds were presented with awards (sponsored and supplied by B&W) in recognition of their personal achievements and for their role in inspiring and mentoring others to also get involved in voluntary and community initiatives.

There were inspiring speeches from mentors and everyone was absolutely delighted when Manish from YOUR MOVE estate agents presented Salaam Peace with a cheque for £10,000 to support its programme of sports-based community initiatives.

Waltham Forest Community Awards were presented to the following community mentors:

Jane Brueseke (LBWF Youth Advisors/YIAG)

Dyon Munroe Robinson (Youth Support Service/Summer University)

Munaf Abhram (FC Leytonstone / Salaam Peace Leytonstone)

Neil Barratt (Lamas School Sports Leadership programme for young people)

Lee Hagger (Norlington School for Boys / Fulham FC)

The following Young People were presented with wards in recognition of their hard work and outstanding achievements:

Azi Bham (Salaam Peace/Kelmscott)

Ausine Sauklyte (Salaam Peace/Lammas School)

Keon Reeves (Salaam Peace/Women’s United)

Agne Daunoraviciute (Salaam Peace/Lammas School)

Abdi Rashid (SP Hackney)

WF Youth Provider Awards:

Karishma Mahomed – Young Advisors

Alex Muhumuza – Young Advisors/Salaam Peace/Worth Unlimited

Shehnaz Bham – Young Advisors/Young Champions/Salaam Peace

Shai Green – SAS Martial Arts

Reece Lindsay – SAS Martial Arts

Sarah Alla – SAS Martial Arts

Asha Greaves – SAS Martial Arts

By Mayor Saima Mahumd