Wednesday, 25 April 2012

#creepingsharia

BFTF has been hugely entertained by the reaction to the EDL's #creepingsharia campaign in which Tommy Robinson complained that the Twitter homepage had a picture of a mosque on it by tweeting "welcome to twitter homepage has a picture of a mosque. what a joke #creepingsharia".

The page in question is shown below.


Winningly, the fact that these kids in a distant land
were playing CRICKET seemed to have passed Tommy by.

Somewhat ironically, Tommy had not taken the British sense of humour into account, and soon the #creepingsharia hashtag had been hijacked by people tweeting various cheeky send-ups, for example:

I've walked past this homeless guy for two years. Everyday his beard gets longer and longer #creepingsharia (Qasim Peracha)

Alcohol is not available at my children’s primary school #creepingsharia (Marchell Revanner)

And a bit like getting a new car and suddenly noticing all the other examples of the make as you drive around, BFTF has begun to see #creepingsharia all over the shop. So much so, in fact, that is seems worth starting a log of them.

A builder who was doing some work on the house told me that he was one of 12 children - this is exactly the kind of unrestrained #creepingsharia procreation that will leave the British as a minority in their own country. (Note 3)

At a recent residents group meeting, the group wanted an alcohol-free area around a local park - a clear example of #creepingsharia if ever there was one. (Note 1)

BFTF spotted the Mayor of Nottingham wearing what appeared to be an Islamic gown - has #creepingsharia reached our most historic institutions?


The Daily Mail reports how Church bells are being silenced in English villages by #creepingsharia (Note 2)

More examples as BFTF seems them!

Note 1 : The residents group was overwhemlingly Non-Muslim and was concerned about drunks hanging around the park in the evenings.
Note 2 : Thank goodness it wasn't Muslims making this demand. I can see the headline already "Now Muslims demand our Church bells be silenced". Note 3 : Builder was white, English and non-Muslim.

Sunday, 22 April 2012

Bigging Up Residents Groups

A leaflet dropped through BFTF's door recently mentioning that there was a Residents Group Meeting in a few days. Not having been to one of these for a number of years (not least because they had not been advertised), BFTF thought it might be nice to pop along and see what went on.

The meeting was attended by 10-20 people, including a representative from the Police, a "Neighbourhood Action Officer" from the council, and possibly a councillor - as well, of course, as a number of local residents - some of whom have a long standing involvement in the group.

A large part of the meeting involved goind through a list of items that had previously been raised by residents, together with the actions that had been set to resolve them.

As part of this, the Police representative gave a run down of the crime situation, including what was being done to address any current issues. For example, two recent burglaries had resulted in a stronger Police presence in the area.

It was mentioned that the spate of burglaries of jewellery from "Indian" households (BFTF suspects that Pakistanis, for demographic reasons alone) were more likely to be on the receiving end of this crime, but could be wrong) had died down and that the recommendation was for people to keep their jewellery in a bank safe deposit box (see here for an article on this isssue). BFTF pointed out that a number of banks were now taking away this important public service and asked whether the council could challenge local banks on their policy in this regards. The Neighbourhood Action Officer said he would arrange for this to happen.



Residents Group Meeting Agenda - looking good!

Another, very different issue that was clearly a concern was dog foulding (as any parent who has to walk children to school will understand). BFTF wonders whether this is taken as seriously by the council as surveys of Nottinghams citizens suggest it should be.

One forthcoming event that BFTF was interested to hear about was that the St Peters Church would be celebrating it's 200th year anniversary on Sat 23rd June with a day of activities and food, with all welcome (indeed the meeting was held in a community room at this very church.

Incidentally, the effect of the mailshot can be seen in the fact that the meeting from the previous meeting showed that there had only been 5 residents present.

It all looked pretty positive, and BFTF wonders whether it might be possible to put together a record of what the residents group has achieved over the, say, last year. Suspect it would be a powerful arguement for civil society so emailed the Neighbourhood Action Officer to see if he could help compile something (that's "help" as in "can you do this please").

Friday, 20 April 2012

Talk : Olive Tree Campaign

Café Scientifique has another in their excellent series of events recently, with a talk by Cyril and Roxanne Bennis that was entitled “Palestine: Hope and Olive Trees”

The talk was about the work of the "Olive Tree Campaign”, in which Cyril and Roxanne have participated. The campaign seeks to replant olive trees in areas trees have been uprooted and destroyed or in areas where the fields are threatened to be confiscated by the Israeli military Occupation and settlers, or where parts of the Israeli apartheid wall or Jewish settlements are constructed on part of the land.

The OTC is supported by the sponsorship of individuals, YMCAs, YWCAs, churches, church related organizations, human rights organizations, as well as solidarity and advocacy groups around the world and its website gives some of the background to their work:





“Since the year 2001 Israel through its military and settlers in the West Bank and Gaza has uprooted, burnt and destroyed more than 548,000 olive trees that belong to Palestinian farmers and land owners, most of these trees have survived hundreds and thousands of years”

“So far the campaign has planted more than 80,000 olive trees in hundreds of fields in the West Bank and Gaza, many of which are already bearing fruit for the farmers and their families. The trees planted have helped the farmers to steadfast on their land and confront the unjust Israeli military practices, and more importantly, to get individuals from all over the world involved and become more aware of what is happening in Palestine.. . ”

“An average olive tree produces 9 kg of olives, yielding 2 liters of oil which has many uses. The olive tree is plain and frugal; it grows in poor soil and yields precious fruit, and can live for more than a thousand years”



Sadly, there have been a number of occasions where the trees have been destroyed by settlers, most recently in March 2011, when all but one of 190 trees planted with farmer Aziz Tenih on his land were uprooted. Aziz commented that :

"Some of Israeli settlers in this area think they are shepherds. They try to follow the life of prophet Amos, somebody needs to remind them that; as a shepherd, prophet Amos had a stick rather than a machine gun and he was a person who respected his neighbors rather than using every opportunity to destroy their property, terrorize them and drive them off their land"


Another example is the case of Abu Firas, on whose land the ITC planted Olive trees in 2009. Soon afterwards, eyewitnesses reported that several Israeli military and police vehicles were on the land between 10:00 am and 12:00 noon, took their time, and uprooted each and every tree and loaded the trees, the agriculture pipes, and the wooden stakes used to keep the tree vertical, on to trucks. That is, they took everything. Abu Firas was terribly upset and angry about what happened and could not stop asking, "Why?"
Land of Abu Firas after Tree Planting

Land of Abu Firas after planted trees uprooted

Cyril and Roxanne explained that the planting campaign achieved something that the Palestinian farmers could not do by themselves.

If a Palestinian tried to plant trees, the military was likely to turn up and tell him to stop - and the farmer would comply because the alternative was likely to be arrest and detention for up to six months.

But if a few dozen international observers did the planting, they were unlikely to be arrested by the authorities because of the bad publicity this could cause. In addition, it is harder to arrest a bunch of people spread out across a field than a single person.

Typically, a campaign by the OTC will plant tree every other day (it’s a big ask, physically, to plant every day), with the campaigners being able to plant some 400trees in a 4hr period.

Planting in Beit Ummar, 2012
In answer to a question about how Zionism had changed over the decades, Roxanne commented that the early Zionists had been liberal Jews who wanted to have a place where they could practice Judaism in safety. However, this secular Zionism did not get a great deal of support from the Jewish community, most of whom were perfectly happy in the US, UK, France etc so it took on a more religious tone, with British, French and US Zionists being the most vocal.

Roxanne also commented that evangelical Christians were also an issue, as they believed that Israel would speed the second coming of Christ and were not interested, at all, in the rights of the existing Palestinian people.

Farmers receiving trees for planting 2009

One example of the discrimination that the Palestinians faced were the by-pass roads. These are roads in the Palestinian territories that only Israeli settlers are allowed to use and which only have signs for Israeli settlements, there is no mention of the Palestinian towns that the roads pass through. Indeed, Roxanne commented that when travelling on these roads it was as though Palestine didn’t exist. . .

Another example of the problems that the Palestinians faced related to the “by-pass” roads that have been built in the West Bank. These well built highways connect illegal Israeli settlements with each other and with Israel - but do not have junctions or signage for Palestinian towns and villages.

According to PeaceNow:
“In addition to their role in connecting settlements, bypass roads often block the development of the Palestinian communities in the West Bank, creating borders and barriers between communities and routes that in the past were connected. “


The speakers also discussed the housing situation in Palestine, particularly in Jerusalem, pointing out that Arabs were rarely given building permits, and any house built before 1948, by definition, had no building permit. As a result, virtually every house in East Jerusalem (which has historically been an Arab area) has had a demolition order placed on it.

In contrast, settler buildings in East Jerusalem are routinely given building permits, can build to a higher height (5 stories instead of the 3 allowed for Arabs) and are given preferential water, sewage and electricity connections. Indeed, one way of instantly identifying settler buildings (aside from their newness and size) was that they did not have roof top water tanks (because their water supply was reliable, unlike that of the Arabs) or satellite dishes (as the settler buildings got cable). Even the road in front of the settler buildings was of a much higher standard. Roxanne described the resulting effect as being one of “shabby. .chic. . . shabby. . .chic” as one a passed the Arab and Settler buildings.

Roxanne also described the situation in Hebron, which was home to some of the most extreme settlers (a sign daubed on an Arab house saying “Gas the Arabs” gives a clue to the attitudes of some of the settlers). In one area, there was netting stretched between the buildings above peoples heads, and this netting appeared to be covered with household rubbish. The people they were with explained that the settlers living on the top floors of the buildings would throw down their rubbish onto the Arabs below, so the Arabs had erected these nets to protect themselves. Roxanne wondered what kind of message this was giving to the children of the settlers.

In answer to another question about what the future held for Palestine, Roxanne felt that a two state solution was unlikely because so much Palestinian land had been taken that there was not enough left to make any kind of meaningful state.

But she also felt that Israel did not want a one-state solution because the injustices that were currently being placed on the Palestinians in the name of “security” would then become civil-rights issues- and much harder for the Israeli government to defend.

The speakers closed by mentioning a book by political comedian Mark Thomas called “Extreme Rambling” in which Mark walks the length of the wall, talking to many fascinating characters (both Jewish and Arab) as he does so.

BFTF asked what the feeling was amongst Israeli society, either within Israel or in the UK about the way the Palestinians were being treated. Roxanne and Cyril responded that this was difficult for them to gauge, but what they could say was that there was a trend for Israeli society itself to become more polarised, with the more secular living in places like Tel Aviv, while the more extreme tend to move towards selttlements in the West Bank and Jerusalem.

And that was pretty much the end of the, very interesting and somewhat disheartening, event.

Note
There is a tendency on the Internet for people to find places that echo and re-inforce their own views. Thus the pro-Israeli camp will talk amongst itself about how right it is and how wrong the Palestinians are. While the Palestinian camp will, similarly, talk amongst itself about how right it is and how wrong the Israelis are.

Much of this discourse is not in the slightest bit helpful or in any way actually brings the possibility of a solution forward.

So, to try and buck this trend, BFTF is going to try and get the perspective of the Jewish and Christian(or Muslim) communities on the above post to see where the common ground (if any) might lie.

Given that BFTF has all the tact of a Challenger Tank, it seems prudent to try and do this via an Inter-Faith organisation.

Hopefully, more news on the outcome of this effort in due course!

Related Posts
Israeli View Point (Families Forum) - a must read
Palestinian View Point (Families Forum) - a must read
Recognition of Palestine at the UN

Image Credits
Hebron Net

Thursday, 19 April 2012

Mohammed Jabbar

Just sent this email to the Embassy of the Republic of Iraq in London. It's pretty self explanatory :

Dear Embassy of Iraq,

Salaam,

I've just read a heart rending account of the plight of Mohammed Jabbar, one of Baghdads bomb disposal experts, who has lost an arm and a leg in an IED explosion.

He is one of Iraq's heroes, and surely deserves the full support of the state in ensuring that his life is made as easy as possible, and that he has an adequate pension.

Why can't the Iraqi authorities provide him with a useable prosthetic limb, so that he can walk with his children, and the opportunity to earn enough to support them?

Hoping you can give this derserving son of Iraq the help he deserves.

http://blogs.channel4.com/gurublog/on-patrol-with-the-baghdad-bomb-squad/2320


We should all be doing something to help those facing injustice. If you feel strongly about this case, why not also email the Embassy?

Apr 16th article in the Nottingham Post

BFTF had the chance to write a wee article on volunteering for the Nottingham Post recently, which can be found here :

http://www.thisisnottingham.co.uk/s-little-caring-things-make-community-better/story-15828780-detail/story.html

It was nice to write something that was only 350 words long for a change !

Sunday, 15 April 2012

Sustainable paper at a local mosque

BFTF has talked to a number of Muslim Imams and scholars over the years about the teachings of Islam regarding the environment. Without exception they have told BFTF that Muslims have a duty as God's viceregents on earth to safeguard the environment.

Unfortunately, in many cases Muslim institutions don't practice what they preach in this regard. In particular, only a relatively few institutions use sustainably sourced paper for their printing and photcopying.

BFTF has been trying to get one local mosque (that uses a lot of paper in photocopying and for leaflets) to switch to sustainably sourced paper (i.e. FSC certified or recycled) for some time. Here is the story so far:

Jun2006 : Originally send Emails detailing reasons why the mosque should switch to a sustainable source for their printer paper.

Jul2006-Feb2007 : Provided the mosque with sources and prices for sustainably sourced paper, also discussed with mosque manager on a number of occasions

Mar2007 : Understood that the mosque would now only buy paper from a sustainable source.

Apr2007: Suggested that leaflets etc should have a little logo that showed they were made from sutainable sources (and provided a draft logo) so that the community could see that taking care on this issue was part of being a Muslim. Was told that this would be done.

Mar2008 : Noticed that sustainably sourced paper had not been used for some time. Was told that it was difficult to ensure that everyone bought the right kind of paper. Discussed with mosque staff and was told that BFTF should draft up an Environmental Policy. BFTF drafted up a policy and supplied it to the mosque.

Apr2008 : Was told that there was an "Executive Committee Meeting" at which the Environmental Policy could be raised.

Jun2008 : Asked whether the Environmental Polciy had been raised at any recent Executive Committ Meetings. No response

Oct2008 : Was told that the Envoronmental Policy had not been raised at any of the recent Executive Committee Meetings and could BFTF resend the Environmental Polciy as that the mosque no longer had a copy of it - so BFTF did.

Jan2009 : Discussed with the staff and was told that what I should do was to set up a meeting with all the relavant people and explain everything to them. (BFTF did rather give up at this point for a while, feeling that it was just one hurdle after another)

Mar(?)2010 : Chased the issue up again and was told that staff did not know how to find sustainably sourced paper in the Viking catalogue so went it, opened up the catalogue and showed them. Was assured that only sustainably sourced paper would be ordered from now on.

Oct(?)2010 : Saw that sustainably sourced paper was not being used and asked why. Was told that the next order would be sustainably sourced (and it was)

Mar(?) 2011 : Saw that sustainably sourced paper was not being used and asked why. Was told that the next order would be sustainably sourced (and it was)

Oct(?) 2011: Saw that sustainably sourced paper was not being used and asked why. Was told that the next order would be sustainably sourced (and it was)

Feb 2012 : Discussed with anothe staff member and resubmitted all the material and background information that had been supplied previously. This staff member did some digging and told me that the problem was that there was no training and that the job of ordering the paper was done by the newest member of staff/student etc who inevitable did not know that they should be buying the sustainably sourced stuff. The Staff member said that he would put a training program in place (covering a lot more issues than just this one) that specified exactly what paper should be bought. ETA for implementation of this was about six weeks.

May2012 : BFTF happened to be in the office at the mosque and noticed that they were STILL using unsustainably sourced paper (ironically, the reverse of the packet showed that the manufacturer does sell a recycled grade of paper). It is possible, BFTF supposes, that this was still old stock and that the training had indeed been implemented, although this was not the impression that BFTF got from talking to the staff there. Later, BFTF discussed this with the staff member who had done all the training. He assured BFTF that the staff had indeed been trained and that they should be ordering sustainably sourced paper. BFTF asked what it should do now? Should it lodge a formal complaint? The staff member told BFTF to complain to them, which BFTF has done via email.

Aug2012 : BFTF again happened to be in the office at this local mosque and noticed that paper was not recycled or FSC certified. Was told that this was old stock from elsewhere in the organisation.

Aug2012 : This time the paper was 50% recycled. Asked why it wasn't 100% as agreed and was told that perhaps the person ordering hadn't picked up on the "50%" bit.

Sep2012 : Paper by photocopier not FSC certified or recycled. Person in the office had no idea where it had come from. Sent email to some staff members asking what I should do now?

Sep2012 : Person who organised the training was disappointed that the office was not using sustainably sourced paper and suggested that I take it up with one of the trustees. So BFTF did.

Oct2012 : Trustee, who is very supportive of green issues and has promoted them strongly elesewhere, said they would discuss with office staff.

Oct2012 : Reveived an email from the masjid saying the they did have an environmental policy (which they attached), they did use recycled paper and that they had also recently installed energy efficient heating and lighting.

Dec(?)2012 : Noted that the masjid was not using sustainable paper and was told that the paper had been donated.

Mar(?)2013 : Ask one of the staff members whether the several hundred (perhaps thousand) leaflets he had just printed were printed on sustainable paper. The response suggested that the staff member had absolutely no idea that paper came from forests and that there was such a thing as sustainably sourced paper.

Jun2013 : Noted that the Masjid was again using unsustainably sourced paper so told them that, with every other approach having failed, BFTF would be submitting a formal complaint...but didn't really want to complain so left the issue.

Dec2016 : Having noticed a couple of times that the paper being used was still not sustainably sourced chased up via email.

Crosscountry trains and La Prairie skincream

Just read an unbelievable article in the Guardian about pricing of various products.

Two parts of it particularly caught BFTF's interest. . .

Crosscountry Rail
Part of this interview involved a discussion of the fact that (for a journey that has two separate parts) it was much cheaper to buy to separate tickets rather than one single one - and that this was not indicated on the companys website. This so frustrated BFTF that it sent the following email to Cross Country trains (it includes the relevant part of the interview, so is pretty self-explanatory):

Dear Cross Country Trains
I've just read an interview between a Guardian reporter and your Head of Communications, Richard Gibson. Part of this interview, relating to the pricing information for train journeys, appears to be rather diverced from reality. I attach the relevant part here (astericks denote the bits I am having trouble getting my head around):

Guardian: Do you think it's fair that one person could pay £147.50, but another could split the tickets and pay £65 for the same journey on the same trains?
Richard Gibson: I think the fare of £147.50, at less than 50p per mile, is a fair price for the 300-mile journey.
Guardian: But in the end I paid just £65!
Richard Gibson: I think that £147.50 to travel from St Austell to Macclesfield is a fair price for the journey.
Guardian: You keep telling me it's fair, but when people read this they're going to say: it's absurd and you're ignoring my question. Why can't CrossCountry write on their ticket site, "It may be cheaper to book your journeys separately."
Richard Gibson: Because not every customer wishes to do what you've tried to do.
Guardian: Not every customer wishes to save money? It is a hassle, but you should still tell them. Why won't you?
Richard Gibson: Because that would be confusing to customers.***
Guardian: I think customers would like to save money.
Richard Gibson: I think we disagree on what we think our customers would prefer.***

You can't seriously be saying that customers do not want to be told how to get cheaper fares? Can you?


Update(11 May 2012)
Received a response from Cross Country which is shown below (slightly edited to save space):
The interview Richard gave took about 45 minutes and what the Guardian decided to publish were in fact a series of quotes from it, carefully selected to tell the story they set out to achieve. . .
In fact the reality is that the industry is working hard to provide the best information about train fares to customers. As for how all of the potential combinations of many hundreds of thousands of fares between two given points can be communicated to a customer, well, this is something that the rail industry continues to consider. The fact remains that “through” fares generally remain the cheapest way of making a journey, and our practice to date has been to offer through fares unless none are available, or a customer proposes other options. Indeed, the article failed to acknowledge the cheaper Advance fare that was available for that route.
It's also worth noting that until recently, the majority of tickets were sold through stations. But we recognise that online retailing offers customers the ability to try out different options (for example, splitting a journey, varying the route of travel, or changing the time of travel) and we are exploring how we might utilise this sales channel to make our retailing more simpler to customers who are able to be flexible in their travel plans.

La Prairie, whose Cellular Platinum Cream
The other interview that saw BFTF somewhat confused was with Rachel Simmonds who is the skincare training manager at La Prairie, whose 50ml Cellular Platinum Cream is sold for £656. As this is a bit of a (bad)sciency topic, it can be found at the Nottingham Science Blog here.

Thursday, 12 April 2012

Tour of the Theatre Royal Nottingham

BFTF had the chance to tag along on a fascinating tour of the Theatre Royal(official website here), Nottingham recently. With David Longford and Caroline Pope from the theatre’s education department as guides, the tour literally “went behind the scenes” of the theatre, gave a glimpse into its history and delved deep into its innermost workings.

David began the tour by explaining that, back in 1865 when the theatre was built, the view from it down towards Market Street would have been very different. The houses would have been dilapidated, almost slums and Market Street was a narrow, badly surfaced lane known as “Blood Alley” because of the risk of a slipping or sliding cart running over a pedestrian.

The theatre was built by John and William Lambert, local lace merchants who loved drama and wanted to give something back to the city. It cost £15,000 (equivalent to over £1.5million today) and was completed in the astonishingly short time of 6months.

The architect was Charles J Phipps and the Theatre Royal was only his second commission. However, it was very well received and resulted in Phipps gaining a number of further commissions elsewhere in the country. Theatres at that time were lit by gas, and contained numerous gas pipes serving all the lamps in the building. This was something on a fire hazard and it was only a matter of time before tragedy would strike. . .


The Theatre Royal

The inevitable happened in the Theatre Royal in Exeter, also designed by Phipps, which was built in 1886. Only a few months after opening, a naked gas flame ignited some drapes and fire spread quickly. Many people, especially those in the upper gallery, could not escape, while others were crushed in the stampede for the exits. In total, some 186 people lost their lives.

It provoked Parliament into introducing more stringent safety precautions in all British theatres. Nottingham responded to the disaster and legislation by hiring the well known theatrical designer Frank Matcham in 1897. Matcham introduced electrical lighting to the Theatre Royal, raised the stage and generally refurbished the theatre. He also designed the Empire Palace which was built on the site where the Royal Concert Hall now stands.

Whilst in the foyer, David pointed out that it would have looked very different on the opening night in 1865 - each of the doors was for a different “class” of ticket and a series of interconnecting staircases ensured that the classes did not have to suffer the indignity of having to interact with each other.

Foyer area

The common people, with the cheapest tickets, didn’t come through the front doors, instead, they had to come in through an entrance at the side of the building, then under the theatre to their places in the stalls, which were standing only and packed pretty tightly (the theatre held some 2,500 people when opened as opposed to the 1100 that it can accommodate in its current all-seater configuration.

The Theatre Royals dead posh auditorium

Moving inside to the theatre itself, and then onto the actual stage (which was set up for the “Doctor in the House” production that was running at the time), David showed how the stage had a slight incline (called a “rake”), dipping towards the front, to improve the sightlines for the audience.

Detail of decorative panels


The beautiful ceiling design, hopefully the show
is so interesting that you won't look up here.
The set was a beautiful recreation of a 1950s “front room”, with fireplace, electric bar heater and wallpaper from an age when there wallcoverings were a taste-free zone.

Corner of the set from the front


The set viewed from the back

Apparently, it was quite small, as sets go, and could be packed up by eight people in a mere 3-4hrs. In contrast, a big set, as had been required for the “Sister Act” production, took about 10hrs to take down and filled 7 lorries!

David and Caroline then took the group down to the part of the building that only actors normally get to see, as they passed by the wardrobe area, which was fully equipped with a washing machine and steam iron (a full-on steam generator iron, no messing about here!)

The wardrobe area

And the dressing rooms, which had lights around the mirrors just like on the telly. David explained that this was a chorus changing room, where large groups of actors could get changed. There were also, of course, individual changing rooms. One surprising feature was that, as well as showers, there were also two baths which were often used by dancers to relax their muscles in between shows.

The, very tidy, Chorus dressing room

That was pretty much it for the theatre, but the tour wasn’t over as David and Caroline now took the group to the Royal Concert Hall next door for a brief visit.

Royal Concert Hall exterior, a bit of a glass fest

A much newer building, which took two years to build and was completed in 1982, with the architects being the “Arts Team” from RHWL. It has a striking glass exterior whilst the auditorium is pure 1980’s, with its angular lines and beige colour reminding BFTF, slightly bizarrely, of the Aston Martin Lagonda of the same era.

Concert Hall Auditorium. .  .

. .  .seemingly inspired by the interior of the AM Lagonda

So there you go ! Hope you found something of interest in this post.

Image Credits: AM Lagonda

Saturday, 7 April 2012

Interview : Morris Samuels (Unity Project)

Well over a year ago, BFTF saw an article in the Guardian (or Guardigan as No1 son used to call it) about a really inspirational project in Nottingham that was trying to get young people out of gun and gang cultures. The project was called the Unity project and was run by Morris Samuels.

BFTF knew instantly that this was someone who needed to be given a spot on the radio show. And, praise be, that interview recently came to pass. As usual, the best bits are here for you to enjoy and be inspired by :

BFTF : Morris, lets go back to 2004, could you tell us what really provoked you into starting the Unity Project?



Morris : I’ve lived in St Annes since the age of six and I’ve seen how the estate revolved, how people, when they are young, have really good intentions of being good citizens and getting on but as they get to the age of 14, 15,16 they don’t get employment, they lack education, and then their good intentions turn to something else. You can use your imagination about what I’m trying to say.

All through those times I’ve been a guy in the community, a very physical guy that looks after myself and my family. The reason I’m saying this is that when you are looking to set up things, if you have credibility within the community it sometimes helps to get things moving on.

As a semi-professional footballer, by 2002 I had got to the stage where I was thinking about retiring because the legs won’t move anymore and I was thinking that 1999 to 2002 was a really critical time for Nottingham in terms of the gun and gang crime that was blighting Nottingham, resulting in the word “Shottingham”. Unfortunately a number of young people were injured or killed and I just felt that it was my time to do something in late 2005.

So I started to look around to see what I could do. At the time my forte was football but I knew that a lot of young people from the three areas that were involved in this crime - St Annes, Meadows and Radford - liked playing football. So I started trying to get young people together but I had to target one or two of the main people to get this project running. I think the difficult elements were “When they meet up, what happens then?” I can recall a young man who was a prominent guy from Radford called Ali Scott who came in to help me behind the scenes. People like Mohammed Yaseen, Jean Pardoe (Chief Executive of Connexions) and Neil Parnell -they were an integral part behind the scenes making things happen. I think it’s very important that I had the backing behind me.

Because of my semi-pro background with Ilkeston Town, I was able to get Ilkeston Town to sponsor everything and we were able to play at Ilkeston Town under lights in front of about 200 people. So the guys now aren’t focussing on themselves, they’re thinking “Oh my God, we’re playing in front of 200 people - we’ve got to be one. We’ve got to be a family or we are going to get hammered on the pitch”. BBC news came down, filmed half the game, interviewed some of the lads and it blossomed from there really.
Ilkeston Town are known as "The Robins"


but should not be confused with the Australian Robin, which is rubbish at football

BFTF : I’m perhaps not as outgoing as you and I’d be a bit nervous about approaching people to get involved in this project. So I’m interested in asking “what was your pitch!”
Morris: When you know that someone you know has been shot, you are not bothered about being rejected, that’s the least of your problems, the problems are that people are saying “We’re not happy with this, we are going to get revenge”. You can feel the atmosphere and that drives you, that takes you through all the worries, the “I don’t want to approach people”. I will approach people because I want Nottingham to be the best city in the  country. I’m no different to a lot of people in Nottingham, the only difference is, I’ve gone and done it. I can honestly say is that when I set Unity up my aim was to work with everybody, We didn’t want to be rivals with anybody. We’ve worked with Nottingham Forest in the past, Notts County have just come on board. Last night our U16’s played against Chesterfield.
I believe that when Unity has no use or ornament to the community, I’m more than willing to go and work in ASDA because that will be my time done. I haven’t done it to earn loads of money. I’ve done it because I want young people to understand that we don’t have to fight. Blacks, Whites, Asians - we can all get on.

Also, I don’t want to keep these young people. They come to Unity because they are at risk, by this I mean they may have problems with education, employment, staying in school, homelessness, have a gang problem that they want to get out of. And one thing you have to remember is that if I was a drug dealer or I was in the gangs and guns and I wanted to get out, how can I say it ? I can’t stand on top of Victoria Centre and shout “I’m coming out of a gang” - it just doesn’t work like that.

But if you are in Unity, you’re saying that “I’m playing for Unity. I want to get on with Meadows, I want to get on with Radford, I want to get on with Broxtowe, I want to get on with everybody. I’ve done wrong and I want to get out”. Joining Unity is one of the ways of saying all that.

Nottingham - A Great City

BFTF. I think you have used Unity as a springboard to give people some of the skills they may have missed out on. Can you give us a little more information on that ?
Morris : The beautiful thing about Unity, the reason why it works, is that we use workshops to address all the social issues that we have at present. Let’s say, for arguments sake, that it was brought to my attention or some of the staffs attention that there was a massive homelessness problem, the next workshop would be on homelessness. We wouldn’t’ talk about guns and gangs if that wasn’t prevalent or relevant to what is happening now.

The reason I say homelessness is that, at the moment, this is one of the biggest issues that young people are facing. 
We would get agencies to come in and talk about homelessness, give them (the youngsters) leaflets and forms and educate them about where they should go if they become homeless. 
Everybody who plays for Unity has to turn up in a shirt and tie, they sit in on an hour workshop and we talk about issues that are relevant. And that should give them sufficient tools to address the needs that are facing at that moment.
Get a shirt and tie if you want to play for Unity

BFTF: Can you give a flavour of the success Unity has had on the outcomes for young people who have been part of the organisation?
Morris : If we look at unemployment, about three years ago there was a niche for people to be employed as door supervisors (for clubs etc) and so what we did was to set up a partnership with South Notts College and a security company called Elite Security so that we could run courses for people who wanted to be door supervisors. They would go to college, do the course, get the qualifications and there would be an interview at the end of it, guaranteed. In 2009 we won an award as best employer in terms of going through that method in Nottingham. What we have seen is that you walk round the streets of Nottingham in the evening, we have something like 52 young people that are working on the doors. Sometimes you see them and it can be a guy from Meadows and a guy from St Annes - to me that is not relevant but someone else might think that two years ago they were arguing, people who have come through Unity now get on. 

Also we have set up young people to be self-sufficient, to give them interviewing techniques, to let them come into our office and look for jobs, to give them mock interviews. And we try and niche the market in terms of getting people the opportunity. But it’s got to be right, some young people think they can do a job, and they probably can, but before they go into the workplace they are wearing jeans and a sweatshirt when really, appropriately, they should be wearing trousers, a shirt and a tie - and we pay for that. 

Unity is about trying to shape society so that we have good role models, but with that has to come opportunity. If people don’t see opportunities they are going to do what they feel they need to do.


Nelson Ogunshakin OBE  - A role model for us all.

BFTF : So where is the Unity project now?
Morris : We are starting to get accolades, starting to get a reputation. We have moved on from 300 young people in 2006/78 to now having 1,400 young people at the start of 2012. We have two full time staff, seven part time staff and three or four volunteers. To be honest, it’s still not enough to cater for the young people that we have. We want more Asian people, coaches and players because I do believe there is talent in the Asian community. We certainly want to educate and support Asian Football coaches. If people are interested but are already playing in a league, it is worth knowing that we don’t play in a league, we just play friendlies. 

In 2009 we won an award for the best project in the East Midlands out of 47 projects that applied. The award was for how sport has helped change young people. We have had the Chief of Police come on national TV and say that the Unity project has been a success in its own right in terms of breaking down crime. 

We recently started a Youth Work course with South Nottingham College, expected a maximum of 20 people to show interest and had 44 turn up for the induction day. 

Anybody can join Unity, as well as the high profile games against professional football clubs, we do a lot of community events, a lot of charity events. We do all that to raise money. For example, we recently linked up with Notts Police to raise over £1,000 for the QMC. In this way we have one or two ex-gang members going back and giving something back to the community.  
It’s also worth saying that there are a number of other similar projects going on in various parts of the city and they all deserve a pat on the back.
Click here to see what Unity has been up to. . .

BFTF: Moving onto something a little different, my own perspective of the voluntary work done by the Black Community is that it is done in a very focussed, very professional manner and I just wondered what your perspective of the Asian community was, from the outside as it were?
Morris : From my own point of view, and some of my colleagues point of view, we think that the Asian community is well organised because you have your own businesses and you put a percentage of that, I believe, into setting up your own projects so that you can be self-funding -and then you use some government funding. 

I think some parts of the Black and White communities do similar things but one thing I notice about the Asian community is that you stick together and built it within - and that is a skill that is good practice within any culture.
BFTF : Thinking about young people who are listening and thinking about getting involved in voluntary activities, what tips can you give them on making projects a success?
Morris : All you have to do is to have the confidence to do it! Volunteering is the best way of getting into a job because there is no pressure, you are not getting paid - so it allows you to make mistakes, to suss out what is going on. And then, when you feel comfortable, you can apply for a job. Any youngsters out there - don’t think a job is going to come to you, you have to go out and seek it.
BFTF : And taking that a bit further, some youngsters think that because they have tried something once and it hasn’t worked, they can now give up. But the reality is that to achieve success you may need to come at a problem from two or three different angles before you achieve what you are after. In short, you need Sabr (patience). What is your view on this?
Morris : When we were setting up Unity, I faced a lot of barriers. We had high powered people saying that there wasn’t a gun or gang problem in Nottingham in 2005. We had certain community leaders who I went to on a one-to-one who wouldn’t even give me two pence. Then when you look behind the scenes there are other rival football schemes that were trying to close the door, say we don’t want another project in Nottingham. But we weren’t coming at this from a football sense. Football within the Unity project is just a hub, to get the people in. All the spokes are the other activities we do - working with people at risk, employment, training, aspiration building, self esteem, mentoring, youth work. 

I don’t want these young people to stay with me, I know projects that want to keep these young people as gangsters so that they can pull in money. I don’t want them to be gangsters, I want them to go and get a job, to look after themselves so that when I get to sixty, I can walk down the road and not be fearful that something is going to happen to me, my children or my grandkids.
BFTF : Thank you for those heartfelt words. Lastly, all guests on the show get asked “The Special Question” - What do you think is the best thing about living in the UK?
Morris : I think it’s diversity. I think we have moved a long way, I can remember when I was a youngster that racism would be right in your face. People may argue that it is a bit covert now but the thing is you can go down streets now and go in houses and see dual heritage family with blacks and whites living together with, from previous relationships, a black child, a white child and then a dual heritage child that they have had together. We are going to have our setbacks, but it is getting better.

Image source : Robin, Australasian robin : M&S

Yusuf Estes at Masjid Umar

The well known Muslim speaker Yusuf Estes gave a talk at Masjid Umar (Radford, Nottingham) today.

Watching Yusuf Estes, with his Texas drawl and white beard, always feels a little like you are listening to Kris Kristofferson (indeed the more conspiracy minded amongst you may note that no-one has ever seen them both at the same time) and it is hard not to be charmed by his engaging Southern manner.

One of the topics be talked about was some of the difficulties that he had when he converted to Islam. He pointed out that his greatest difficulties had not been with the non-Muslims, or with friends and family - rather it had been with the Muslim community.

Continuing, Yusuf Estes painted a caricature of the “Bismillah Police”- those Muslims who take it upon themselves to analyse each and every action of a new Muslim (and seemingly only new Muslims) and point out any “errors” that they make. He imagined how they would treat a new Muslim that they did not recognise as he entered the masjid. . .

He is entering the masjid with the wrong foot! - Astughfirullah! (I ask God for forgiveness)

He is praying with his hands in the wrong position - Astughfirullah!

His trousers are too long - Astughfirullah!

His trousers are too short - Astughfirullah!

Yusuf Estes felt that many of these “Bismillah Police” (Bismillah means “In the name of God) are acting on the following Hadith:

“"Religion is nasihah." We said: "To whom?" The Prophet (PBUH) said: "To Allah and His Book, and His messenger, and to the leaders of the Muslims and their common folk." (Muslim)

and that they believe that it is their duty to give “nasihah” thinking that this word meant “advice”. However, having discussed this with others, he felt that this should more accurately be translated as “sincerity” - and that this translation fits the Hadith better than “advice”

One other anecdote that Yusuf Estes narrated concerned a 1943 copy of the Encyclopaedia Britannica, which he had been glancing through that very morning in a beautiful book filled room at the University of Leicester. He noted that the Encylopaedia had 113 pages and 12 colour plates related to Islam, covering (accurately so far as he could see) all the major historical milestones, articles of faith and sects.

He compared this to a 1989 dictionary that he had seen, published by the same company, which, under the entry “Islam”, said “see Muhammedism” (which was a very short entry). Yusuf Estes felt that the Muslim community had allowed this diminution in information to occur.

One factoid that Yusuf Estes mentioned during the talk was that the word "Sheriff" was derived from the Arabic "Sharif" (although it has to be said that Wikipedia suggests that Sheriff is derived from "Shire Reeve") Yusuf Estes was keen to promote the Muslim “Guide-US” TV channel which is free-to-air in the US and available on the Internet in the rest of the world. He hopes to have this available in a free-to-air format for TV viewers in the UK at some point in the future, inshallah (God Willing)

BFTF Comment :Masjid Umar wasn’t really big enough for this event, and BFTF wondered whether there was some mileage in the mosques in Nottingham pooling their resources when crowd-pulling speakers such as Yusuf Estes are in town.

Friday, 6 April 2012

Bigging up the May Fest

It is a sad fact that, whilst the Muslim community in the UK often recalls Muslim scientists from the distant past (such as Al-Buruni, Ibn-AlHaytham and Jabir Ibn Hayyan), it does not really engage with scientific discusssion today, except to denigrate or complain.

One way of address this issue and encourage a love of learning is to support, publicise and endorse events that happen at local universites and colleges. And perhaps the best example of such an event in the Nottingham area is the the May Fest event at the University of Nottingham.

This great annual event sees the University opening its doors to the whole community with a great day of exhibitions, interactive lectures and demonstrations. A great day out for the whole family, a wonderful educational experience, a gentle introduction to what goes on at Universities - It really doesn't get much better than this.

This years event is on Saturday 19th May from 11am to 5pm at the University Park Campus (next to QMC) (see here for website) and you can get a feel for last years event by reading this report.

Muslim-Christian Prayer at BMCC

A nice example of Inter-Faith understanding just after Friday prayers today at Bobbers Mill Community Centre/Mosque when a group representing a number of local churches stopped by on their traditional Good Friday walk. The Imam of the Mosque, Dr Musharraf Hussein, and one of the organisers of the walk, Rev Graham Burton jointly read out the following prayer outside the centre:

"Once again on this day called by Christians "Good Friday" we, Muslims and Christians of this local area meet to share prayer together.

We begin as we have done in previous years by affirming that we live as fellow human beings on this planet earth, but because of human greed this earth created and sustained by God is seriously under threat from Climate Change. We pray for governments, businesses and ourselves that together we might undergo a radical change of hearts and minds and live according to the will and guidance of our creator.

We also affirm our common humanity with all peoples of the earth, remembering especially people suffering in Pakistan, both Christian and Muslim, especially those still displaced and suffering because of the devastating floods and earthquakes of recent years. We pray for those oppressed because of poverty and religious persecution and all vulnerable young people.

We pray for those suffering innocently because of war in Afghanistan. We seek an end to religious persecution in Iraq. We remember the continent of Africa and desire peace between Muslim and Christian.

We affirm that we are neighbours who share this city and local community. We remember the children, the elderly, the disabled and the marginalised, the sick in body and mind, refugees and asylum seekers and all who are vulnerable among us.

We remember and pray for all those working with the Christian-Muslim Forum. We ask that this body might grow in maturity and that its leaders may find strength an courage, wisdon and understanding. We pray for all our country's religious leaders that they may be good examples to others.

In closing we affirm our common committment to care for God's earther and our desire to strengthen our relationships with each other and with all people of faith and goodwill"


UPDATE : 9th April 2012
One thing (some might say "one thing among many") that frustrates BFTF is that many organisations (certainly not just Muslim ones) put a lot of effort into organising events that may be attended by just a few dozen people and then put zero effort into writing even a short report of the key points and then posting it up on the Internet - this denying the possibly hundreds of people who might be interested in what went on any way of easily finding out the key message of the event. Indeed, it was in an effort to provide such a record that BFTF wrote the post you are now reading and then put links to it on various social media.

As if to prove BFTF's point, the following contacts resulted from this effort: i) Someone made the, very reasonable comment that they could not undersand how BMCC was a community centre when it was focussed on the Muslim community and not the other communities in the area. To this, BFTF was able to respond:
"Whilst I do not work at BMCC (and cannot speak on their behalf), I am a volunteer there, and can perhaps provide responses from my own perspective. . . The centre is not council funded. All core funding comes from donations from the Muslim community. So whilst you are correct that the centre does have a Muslim focus, that is perhaps not a surprise given who is paying for it.. . . I can assure you that you would be welcome there. . . and I am sure that the centre would be keen to have a greater involvement from the wider community. Indeed the centre has held a number of open days in recent years to this end. . . "
which seemed to be well received.

ii) A call was received from BBC Radio Nottingham asking if BFTF could talk about the event on the station. The resulting short item (Dhamaka Show with Kaval Vaseer. 8th April ~8.35pm) went as follows, more or less:
Kavil : On Friday a group of people representing local churches made a pit-stop at Bobbers Mill Community Centre on the traditional Good Friday walk. A local Imam and Christian Priest stood together and read a prayer as a sign of two faiths coming together. . . [Ash]was there and says more demonstrations of faith integration in Nottingham needs to be seen- a very good evening to you Ash, joining me now. Tell us Ash how things happened on Friday.

Ash: What happened essentially was that this is an annual event that churches have had for a few years now and after the Friday Prayers the Imam said “Whoever can, stay behind, and encouraged the congregation, several hundred people to step out after the prayers and join in this Prayer with the local churches. A small group of people had come bearing a cross and I think had stopped in a number of locations. The Imam and Rev Burton joined together, said a few lines each alternately in quite a moving prayer really.

Kavil: Now Easter, Ash, is a Christian celebration as we all know. What made you want to take part in this small prayer that took place on Friday?

Ash : You are quite right, of course, Easter is a Christian celebration but the prayer was worded in very much a common ground kinda way and anybody really with a heart and with some conscience could take part. It it always good, I think, to take any opportunity you can to build bridges with other organisations and other parts of the community.

Kavil : And this was very much a sign, isn’t it Ash of two faiths coming together. But does that really happen a lot in Nottingham or does it only happen around Easter and perhaps Christmas time?

Ash: There is actually quite a lot of events that happen. I know that Bobbers Mill is part of an organisation in that area that includes a Sikh Gurdwara and a church or two that holds a number of events throughout the year, some of them very, very interesting. One they had with Initiatives of Change and Rob Corcoran talking about community cohesion, so there is a lot going on but perhaps what doesn’t happen is that it doesn’t get the publicity outside of the people who attend the events.

Kavil : And what more can be done to integrate communities from different faiths in the city?

Ash: I’m not sure I dare comment on what needs to be done to integrate different communities, but what I can say is that it is always good to stick to specific things that are easily achievable and targeted. Certainly what a lot of communities need to think about is how they can make sure that the good work they put into hosting events and building bridges with the leaders, the “top end” of communities, how they can really make sure that message gets out to the rank and file because that is really where the pay-off comes, I guess, when you get the message out to the thousands of people who are the core of the communities.

Kavil : Do you think that an Inter-Faith Website perhaps comes to mind is required for the people of Nottingham?

Ash : Nottingham has, of course, the Inter Faith Council, who do a lot of good work an they try very hard. But communities, of course, are sometimes focussed on what they perceive as the need in terms of their own community - and are unable, sometimes to give as much time to the wider view, the wider common ground. But I have to say again, we have the Nottingham Inter Faith Council who do a lot of good work. In particular, they do a lot of training with organisations like the Fire Brigade, the Council, just giving people an introduction to the different faiths so people can become aware really, in a sensible way, not being dogmatic or overly politically correct but really being quite sensible about it.

Kavil, Ash. . . very many thanks for coming and talking with us about the events that took place on Friday here in Nottingham. Thank you very much indeed Ash.

Ash : Ok Byebye
To give a bit of perspective, the above item lasted 4min24sec so you can see what can be fit into this relatively short time slot. This radio interview was a really interesting learning experience for BFTF, with the following "lessons learned" being points that people in a similar positiion may wish to bear in mind:

i) Make notes of key points, names etc BEFORE you go on air.
ii) Relax, speak slowly and clearly.(BFTF always seems to fail at this one)
iii) If you don't like the question (or feel it is unfair) say so or put caveats in at the beginning of your answer. Don't feel you need to have words put in your mouth.
iv) If you are going to make a point, make sure that it would stand up to argument.

Muslim-Christian Good Friday prayer at BMCC 18th April 2014
This year the inter-faith prayer was led by Dr Musharraf Hussein (from BMCC) as well as Rev Clive Burrows and Rev Graham Burton (both from St Stephens Church .

The text of the prayer they collectively read to the impropmtu "congregation" of church goers and people coming out from Friday prayers at BMCC was as follows:

Once again on this day called by Christains "Good Friday" we, Muslim and Christians of the local area, meet to share prayer together.

We begin as we have done in previous years by affirming that we live as fellow human beings on this palnet earth, but because of human greed this earth created and sustained by God is seriously under threat from climate change.

We pray for governments, businesses and ourselves that together we might undergo a radical change of heart and mind and live according to the will and guidance of our creator.

We also affirm our common humanity with all peoples of the earth, remembering especially people suffering in Pakistan, both Christain and Muslim, especially those who were killed and injured in the recent bombing on the outskirts of Islamabad. We pray for those oppressed because of poverty and religious persecution and all vulnerable people.

We pray for those suffering innocently because of conflict in Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq and Nigeria. We seek an end to religious persecution and desire peace between Muslims and Christian.

We affirm that we are neighbours who share this city and local community. We remember the children, older people, the disabled and the marginalised, the sick in body and mind, refugees and asylum seekers and all who are vulnerable amongst us.

We remember and pray for all those working with the national Christian/Muslim Forum. We ask that this body might grow in maturity and that its leaders may find strength and courage, wisdom and understanding.

In closing we affirm our common committment to care for God's earth and our desire to strengthen our relationship with each other and with all people of faith and goodwill.

Ameen / Amen


Related link at the MuslimChristianForum here.

Dr Musharraf Hussein, Rev Clive Burrows and Rev Graham Burton (centre three, l-r)
reading the inter-faith prayer on Good Friday 2014

Related Posts
"Bring A Tin" events at Notts Masajid
Interview - Himmah and Citizens UK
Talk by Sarah Joseph at the University of Nottingham

Recipe - Easy Roast Potatoes

Whilst the rest of this blog is, admittedly, a bit "do-gooder", the recipes section is here for a very different reason - BFTF appears to be utterly incapable of keeping track of the recipes that it has tried, especially the ones that seemed to work. So putting them here will hopefully ensure that BFTF can find them when required.

I suppose you could call it an "Appetising App. . ."

Easy Roast Potatoes
BFTF loves spuds. Being cheap, low fat and versatile they tick all the boxes. This particular recipe is for roast potatoes - a taste sensation!

Ingredients
Potatoes (like duh!)
Salt
Pepper
A little Oil/Fat of your choice


Procedure
a)Peel potatoes, cut into halves/thirds and boil for 10mins

b)Preheat oven to 200C

c) Mix together the fat with the salt and pepper

d) Drain potatoes and place in a baking tray, coat with oil/salt/pepper mix.

e) Cook in oven at 200C for 45mins




The dish rates as "EASY" on the BFTF Washing Up Index

Sunday, 1 April 2012

Nottingham Citizens Survey 2011

The results of this years “Citizens Survey” of Nottingham were recently released. The survey, commissioned by the City Council and NHS Nottingham, involved face-to-face interviews with 1998 citizens (approx 100 per ward) and asked questions on subjects including quality of life, community cohesion and health. It can be found here.

The survey paints a fascinating picture of the city and a few of the points that particularly caught BFTF’s eye are shown below. . .


Are you satisfied with your local area
The survey kicked off by asking people whether they were satisfied with their local area and found that 85% were “very” or “fairly” satisfied with their local area. As with many other aspects of the survey, there was a marked difference between the responses from different age groups

Satisfaction with local area, by age group
 16-2425-4445-6465+
Very Satisfied (%)33343948
Fairly Satisfied (%)56484440

Factors in making somewhere a good place to live.
The most important factors here were clearly Clean Streets (49%), Level of crime (45%). Perhaps unsurprisingly, health services were more important to older respondents:

Importance of Health services in making a place good to live in, by age group
 16-2425-4445-6465+
Health Services (%)31343848

Things which need improving in your area
Top responses here were Level of crime (34%), Activities for teenagers(31%) and Clean streets (30%). It was notable how the responses regarding crime and pavement repairs varied by age of respondent, as shown below:

Things which need improving in your area, by age group
 16-2425-4445-6465+
Level of Crime(%)38363226
Road / Pavement Repairs(%)16222834

Local Area cohesion
Good to see that 90% “definitely” or “tend to” agree that their area is a place where people from different backgrounds get on well and that both White British and BME communities share this view. It is noticeable that (as with a number of other questions) there was a big jump in positive responses between 2008 (73%) and 2009 (86%)

Does the Council provide value for money
Some 68% of respondents “definitely” or “tend to” agree that the council provides value for money, a score that is a significant improvement on last years of 55%

Satisfaction with Council’s Handling of Enquiries
Dissapointingly, 64.2% of respondents who had contacted the Council in the last year were very or fairly satisfied with the Council’s handling of their last query, but 28.9% were very or fairly dissatisfied.

How do you feel about Nottingham as a whole?
67.1% of respondents would speak highly about Nottingham, a large increase on previous surveys, and a further 21.5% would be neither positive nor negative.

Internet access
One of the most interesting parts of the survey related to internet access, with different age groups having different levels of internet access.

Internet Access, by age group
 16-2425-4445-6465+
Internet Access(%)94867640

Significantly lower access in north and north west of city. Access was overwhelmingly at home, via broadband.

Those who did not have internet access gave a variety of, somewhat unexpected, reasons. Across all respondents, the main reason given by respondents who do not have access to the internet is that they see no use in it (42%), lack of knowledge of how to access or use it (27%) or an inability to afford it (23%). Broken down by age, it looks like this:

Reasons for not accessing Internet, by age group
 16-4445-6465+
See no use in it(%)273856
Don't know how to access/use(%)203338
Can't afford it(%)422819

The report also covered a number of other issues, including health related subjects such as Smoking, Alcohol, Mental Health and Obesity