Residents helping enhance their communities celebrated at faith conference

28 April 2017 in Community neighbourhoods and Events
The efforts of eight Newham residents to enhance their local community were recognised last night (Thursday 27 April) at the third Connecting Faiths and Building Communities Conference organised by Newham Council.​​
Around 250 people, representing faith groups across the borough, attended the event at Old Town Hall, Stratford, designed to help build on the work of faith groups across Newham  and how it could be used to benefit the whole borough.

Opened by the Mayor of Newham, Sir Robin Wales, and chaired by award winning journalist Tamanna Rahman - who has worked for the BBC -  the conference had an emphasis on empowering women and highlighting the work they do within their communities.

As part of the evening the eight residents, one from each of the council’s community neighbourhood areas, received certificates for their work in organising events, starting initiatives and advocating the needs of local residents. Those receiving awards were:
  • Pavitar Juttla (Green Street) for  improving, preserving and promoting a local community garden for the enjoyment and health benefits of the local community 
  • Ulrike Gerstenberg (Manor Park) for helping women and young people in Manor Park become fit and more confident through the Modern Arnis Martial Arts Group 
  • Marieta Evans (Beckton and Royal Docks) for her voluntary work at the children’s Rhyme Time activity at the Beckton Globe to ensure it provides a fun learning environment for young children
  • Joyce Johnstone (Canning Town and Custom House) for helping lonely people to socialise by creating the Canning Town Library coffee morning
  • Janet Williams (Plaistow) for volunteering for a range of schemes in her area including schemes to enhance the Greenway; reporting fly tipping; helping at events; and helping to deliver the council’s Christmas hampers to elderly and vulnerable residents
  • Ella Breaky (East Ham) for helping to set up East Edge Sister Women’s Institute in East Ham. This has brought women together to help with community activities and support local charities.
  • Sonia Quintero (Stratford) for bringing residents together through drawing, illustration and poetry clubs
  • Sophie Rigg (Forest Gate) for bringing art to the community through organising and supporting community arts schemes in her area and supporting the Forest Gate Arts Trail.
The conference heard from the founder of Women in Jewish Leadership, Chair of the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust and co-chair of the Jewish Muslim Women’s Network Nisa-Nisham, Laura Marks OBE as well as the vice president of Religions for Peace UK and a member of the European Council of Religious Leaders, Bharti Tailor.

The founder of Sadaqa Day – an initiative bringing faith groups and other organisations together to support their local communities – and  co-chair of the Jewish Muslim Women’s Network Nisa-Nisham, Julie Siddiqi; also spoke at the event.

The event also highlighted the work of the council’s eight community neighbourhood teams, which bring local people together through supporting and hosting a wide range of activities, events and initiatives during the year.

A number of breakout sessions were held to help delegates look at how they can use this work and their own initiatives to develop a stronger community across the borough. Among the topics discussed were how to use arts to build community cohesion and how women can make a difference in the community.

Sir Robin said: “The evening gave us the chance to showcase some of the great work going on across our borough. It is about coming together and celebrating our achievements as one community.

“Building resilience is at the heart of our vision for Newham. The conference was a call to action for everyone to continue working together to build a strong, resilient community and make Newham an even better place to live.

“Across Newham, I see inspirational women supporting the fabric of our borough through community engagement, delivering services and providing strong leadership. Role models like the people we heard from and honoured at the event are critically important for inspiring the younger generation and encouraging everyone to get more involved in the community.

“In a diverse area like Newham, it is crucial we all work hard to bring people together. Working with our faith groups and others we have already achieved a great deal, but there are always more opportunities for us to work together and ensure people feel fully engaged in their local community.”

Deputy Mayor (Statutory) and Cabinet Member for Community Neighbourhoods, Councillor Ken Clark, said: “One of our strengths as a borough is how well we get on together. We respect each other’s differences and value our joint responsibilities.

“When we started developing the idea of community neighbourhoods the aim was, and still is, to get the people who best know  the issues affecting  their local area together  to solve them.

“I have a sense of pride in what has been achieved, but I know there is still a lot more we can do.”