Category Archives: Covid-19 Pandemic

A Personal Comment By Councillor Emma Dent Coad

I moved into North Kensington in 1986, 27 years after the racist murder of Kelso Cochrane by a group of Oswald Mosley’s Blackshirts. Mosley had been active in the area, stoking the racial tension between black and white groups which had led to riots. Mosley should be held accountable for this murder, but the man who took a knife and stabbed to death a man he didn’t know, because he was black, was not identified, hidden by a cult of silence.

In 2009 Golborne Councillors and community members held a commemoration of Kelso’s death at the spot where he was killed. Among the attendees was a white woman, who asked me to introduce her to the family. She knew the killer. It was her brother, who had passed away. In five minutes they had met, sorrow and forgiveness uniting their pain after 50 years.

Over the years I’ve been unofficial auntie to many young people in my neighbourhood, and heard their stories. I’ve witnessed both unacknowledged racism and blatant racism by police, church members, teachers, others in authority, and even my own colleagues. I’ve done what I can to support these young people and their families. It is never enough.

In February North Ken was shocked by a racist attack by white thugs against El Harding, a young black student, in his place of work, a pub in Portobello Road. We protested, lobbied politicians and police. They have CCTV of the perpetrators, and names on credit cards used on the night. But still no arrests. Somebody knows who did this, but the cult of silence prevails.

So I understand when my black sisters tell me they keep their young men indoors to keep them safe.  

It is nearly three years since the terrible atrocity at Grenfell Tower. The decisions made to keep costs down would never have been made by the decision-makers for homes of their own families. But they see social tenants as second-class citizens, and if those tenants are  non-white they are bottom of the heap. I witnessed RBKC senior officers and Tory Councillors turn survivors into victims they could patronise and treat like charity cases. They expected gratitude for having returned to them what had been taken so cruelly by RBKC. I witnessed this state-sanctioned racism in many forums, in Parliament and at the Council. They gas-lighted traumatised survivors who deserved to be cherished. They called people ‘volatile’ when they were upset and frustrated. They called people ‘ungrateful’ when they refused to accept sub-standard housing. At one Full Council meeting, a traumatised bereaved family member was refused permission to speak. At the next Council meeting, a white woman stood up asking ever-so-politely for permission to speak, and it was granted.

I know we should always call out racism. In a debate on Grenfell in Parliament on 6 June last year, under parliamentary privilege, I finally plucked up courage to do so publicly. I read out a series of racist comments made by senior officers and Councillors. The Leader of the Council wrote to me that very afternoon. She wanted an ‘investigation’. She wanted me to identify the senior officers and Councillors I had quoted. I refused, I said it was endemic and they should tackle it systemically.

I went along with their investigation – not naming names – and to date NOTHING has come of it. What is clear to me is that, in a borough where white British born people are in a minority – 48-52% – those elected to power like to feel they are in authority. But they aren’t.

Kensington and Chelsea is the most unequal borough in Britain. And the brutal and pervasive Covid-19 has leeched into our communities, resulting in one of the worst infection rates among our wealthy neighbours. This runs parallel with poverty, ill-health, and other factors we are struggling to understand. We may never get accurate statistics as our sick go to die in hospitals elsewhere.

What can we do? I say to my black brothers and sisters, stand together and ask your white allies to stand with you. Call out racism wherever you see, and stand by those calling it out, because they will be targeted by those who don’t want to hear your accusations. And I say to my white brothers and sisters, support black organisations, and tell other white people you do. For myself I pledge to call out racism, pursue the perpetrators, to be a good ally, use my white foot in the door for the benefit of those who have the door shut in their face, and to live my life in protest every day, against inequality and against injustice.

Impact of Covid-19 on Renters

The Mayor has been lobbying to make renting more secure and affordable for some time now. In addition, City Hall is now asking Government to:

1. Properly protect renters from losing their homes by preventing landlords serving eviction notices to any tenants affected by coronavirus and ending ‘no fault’ Section 21 evictions for good.

2. Further increase the help the welfare benefits system provides with rents, including covering in any shortfall in rents of those unable to pay them because of Covid-19.

3. Call on landlords to offer flexibility to tenants whose ability to pay their rent is affected by COVID-19, including requiring landlords in receipt of mortgage holidays to notify their tenants and to enable tenants to be exempt of rental payments for the duration of the holiday.

Are you a renter or landlord and have you been affected by the crisis? How are you coping? 

What more do you think City Hall and Government could do?  

How should things change for renters in future? 

Please consider taking the time to submit a short submission here the housing policy team at City Hall will be reading all submissions this is an important chance to have your say heard and influence future housing policy in our city.

Foodbank Update

Cllr. Baktiar, Cllr. Ali and Cllr. Elnaghi assisting Cllr, Thaxter today at the Notting Hill Methodist Foodbank.

All of our councillors have been working as hard as they can to provide as much assistance as is necessary to the local community during the pandemic. Councillor Thaxter a long time volunteer at the Notting Hill Methodist Church Foodbank has been there almost every single day since the pandemic began with many of her fellow councillors coming to help when they can. The foodbank is still in desperate need of supplies due to the increased demand. Below is the list of items they currently need urgently. Please do help them if you can.

All of our councillors have seen a huge increase in their casework and are busily doing everything they can to help their residents. If you need any help please do get in touch by emailing your ward councillor’s directly.

Stay Safe! Together we will get through this.

Useful Local Contacts for Residents

DETAILS CORRECT AT 26.3.20

AL MANAAR

Al-Manaar will be providing the following daily services to the community:

• Telephone Counselling service for those who need it, especially those suffering from isolation. Our Professional Therapeutic Counsellor, Sis. Nacera, can be reached on:   07771545581

• Any enquiries related to the Al-Manaar Centre/MCHC Trust, you may call our Executive Director, Mr. Sayed, on 07500223914 or by email: sayed@mchc.org.uk

To deliver dry food and toiletries, please call the Centre on: 02089641496 or the Care-Taker, Mr. Hussein, on: 07754271744

CITIZENS ADVICE BUREAU

The office is now closed, however – our telephone number is 0300 330 1174 between 10am and 12 noon and you can also email: adviceline@kensingtoncab.org.uk

NORTH KEN LAW CENTRE

Employment advice line: 020 8969 7473 – please leave your name and number

Email: info@nklc.co.uk

VOLUNTEER CENTRE K&C

To offer your help:

Call: Volunteer Centre Kensington & Chelsea on: 020 8960 3722   

Website: vckc.org.uk

Email: registrations@voluntarywork.org.uk

AGE UK

To get help for yourself/report cases of elderly people in isolation:

Call Age-UK Kensington & Chelsea on 020 8969 9105 

Website: aukc.org.uk

COUNCIL

Resident and business inquiries: covid-19enquiry@rbkc.gov.uk

If you need help: C19hub@rbkc.gov.uk

FARMERS’ MARKET


Our weekly farmers markets are currently playing an important part in ensuring local residents have enough choice locally and do not need to travel out of the area which is crucial to reducing unnecessary travel for food shopping.

We will try to open a little earlier for older customers to shop. We will also try to space out queues to give people more room to shop and to allow for social distancing.

Please could you support farmers markets as vital food resources? We’ve had very little information or support from central Government. It would also be very useful if you could share the message that we’re open every week in your newsletter to local people and encourage them to like the Ladbroke Grove farmers market facebook page, follow us on social media @Londonfarmers for updates and/or join the market email list.


Ladbroke Grove Farmers Market

The Spanish School

317 Portobello Road

London W10 5SZ

https://www.lfm.org.uk/markets/ladbroke-grove/

SUPPORT WITH GAS/ELECTRICITY BILLS

Don’t stress about gas / electricity.

Phone them if you have a prepay meter tell them you’re self-isolating and they will send you out 2 weeks’ worth of gas / electricity or if you have a smart meter they will top you up.

BRITISH GAS 0333 202 9802

EDF 0333 200 5100

EON 0345 052 000

N POWER 0800 073 3000

SCOTTISH POWER 0800 027 0072

SSE 0345 026 2658

LOCAL FRUIT AND VEG DELIVERY

Devlin’s market stall will deliver to your home:

Devlin-fruitandveg@hotmail.com