Press Releases

  • Local refugee tales project comes to fruition

    Hammersmith and Fulham Refugee Forum’s ‘Our Stories, Our Voices’ project is coming to a successful conclusion.

     

    Funded by Hammersmith & Fulham Council the project has been organised jointly by the Refugee Forum and H&F Volunteer Centre.

     

    Refugees, especially young people, were invited to contribute stories and folk tales from their homelands and these have been illustrated by some of those taking part and also recorded.

     

    In addition, a team form the BBC Outreach and Corporate Responsibility unit at White City produced a series of four video clips in which local people from refugee backgrounds described their experiences of settling in West London. The video clips are now available to view through the Refugee Forum’s website and some will also be shown, together with clips of stories collected during the project, at Hammersmith’s annual Refugee Week celebration.

     

    This event is taking place at Rivercourt Methodist Church, Hammersmith, on Thursday 25th June, in the evening.

     

    Tales for the ‘Our Stories, Our Voices’ project were collected during a series of sessions with young people at the Volunteer Centre and also at regular meetings of the Shepherd’s Bush Family Project. Stories were read out during two sessions at local libraries and also at local schools and colleges.

     

    Phil Cooper, for Hammersmith and Fulham Refugee Forum, said: “This project has enabled a range of people from refugee backgrounds to tell us about themselves and also share with each other folk tales from their homelands which in turn have been shared with other audiences around the borough.”

     

    He added: “This is all part of the Refugee Forum’s mission to strengthen community cohesion by offering opportunities for people to express themselves and increase public knowledge of their diverse backgrounds.”

     

    -Ends-

  • Election candidates answer our immigration questions

    Hammersmith’s main General Election hopefuls have been quizzed on the topics of immigration, the NHS and human rights.

     

    Hammersmith and Fulham Refugee Forum has published the responses from the Labour, Conservative, Liberal Democrat and Green candidates to a series of questions.

     

    The answers, in an ‘Election Special’ edition of the Refugee Forum’s newsletter has been emailed today to two dozen organisations representing different ethnic groups that make up the constituency’s refugee and migrant communities.

     

    Hammersmith is one of the London marginal constituencies where the ethnic minority vote (including migrants and refugees) could prove crucial in the May 7 election as it is almost 9 times larger than the majority of the sitting MP, Labour’s Andy Slaughter.

     

    Answering six identical questions, all four candidates said that immigration was not a problem in Hammersmith and the mix of cultures contributed to making it a brilliant place to live.

     

    Opinions differed on other topics, however. Labour candidate Andy Slaughter, Lib Dem Millicent Scott and Green David Akan all opposed any move to abolish the Human Rights Act. For the Conservatives, Charlie Dewhirst said a Tory government would axe the law and replace it with a ‘British Bill of Rights’.

     

    All four were asked if they supported the retention of Charing Cross Hospital with a fully functioning A&E. Mr Slaughter said saving the hospital from closure with the loss of more than 300 beds was his number one priority. Mr Akan said that reducing the capacity of local hospitals was a mistake. Ms Scott said facilities should not be closed until there had been consultation on an alternative and Mr Dewhirst said he was glad there was clarity from the Imperial NHS Trust’s intention to redevelop the site with an emergency centre and a range of specialist provision.

     

     

    The candidates also had varying views on issues of specific interest to refugee and migrant voters, including whether the UK should set a statutory limit on the length of time that a person could be held in a detention centre before being deported or allowed to stay in the country, or whether asylum claimants should be allowed to work while their claim was being processed (they are not permitted to at present). They were also asked if the UK should accept more UN refugees, especially from Syria.

     

    Phil Cooper, for Hammersmith and Fulham Refugee Forum, said: “Hammersmith is one of the London constituencies where the migrant and refugee vote will help to determine the outcome of the election locally. This is reflected in the fact that all the main party candidates were willing to answer the series of questions we asked.”

     

    -Ends-


     

    Notes to Editors:

    The current majority of sitting Labour MP Andy Slaughter is 3,549. Hammersmith is 47th from the top of the list of British constituencies where the BME (Black and Minority Ethnic) vote could determine the outcome. The number of BME voters in Hammersmith numbers 31,739 (source Operation Black Vote).

     

    14th April, 2015

     

  • Violent, Racist and Religious crime soars as election approaches

    An increase in violent, racist and religious hate crimes in Hammersmith and Fulham has been described as ‘truly alarming’ by a borough organisation representing refugees.

     

    Metropolitan Police crime figures for the year from February 2014 to February 2015 show that crime overall in Hammersmith and Fulham had increased by some 5%.

     

    However, more detailed statistics showed that crimes of violence against the person had shot up by 24% from 4,015 incidents a year ago to 4,994 this February.

     

    Another category is racist and religious hate crime and the number of incidents recorded in the figures was 335 whereas 12 months ago it was 283, a rise of 18%.

     

    Only robbery and burglary showed decreases. Other categories, including rape and domestic crime were also on the up.

     

    ‘The figures for violence, racist and religious hatred are truly alarming,’ said Phil Cooper, spokesman for Hammersmith and Fulham Refugee Forum. ‘There is an argument that recording of crime has improved and so the totals go up but that cannot explain the level of increase in some of these categories.’

     

    He added: ‘What is really concerning is that as we get nearer to a general election the rhetoric, especially around the subject of immigration, gets more negative and outrageous. This is a borough with a very diverse population and all those candidates standing for election here must guard against inflammatory statements that could only make the crime figures worse.’

     

    Mr Cooper said he was pleased to learn that Hammersmith and Fulham Council had made funding available for a significant increase in the numbers of police officers locally and hoped that more bobbies on the beat would help to reverse the crime increases.

     

    Ends

     

    Notes to Editors:

     Check the latest crime statistics at http://www.met.police.uk/crimefigures/

     

    Hammersmith and Fulham Refugee Forum is an umbrella body representing the interests of up to 30 refugee community organisations based in the borough. Its member groups cover the following ethnicities: Afghans, Bosnians, Ethiopians, Eritreans, Iraqis, Iranians, Kurds, Somalis, Sudanese, Zimbabweans.

  • Refugee Forum leads on national petition against Immigration Bill

    Hammersmith and Fulham Refugee Forum has taken the lead in organising a national petition against major aspects of the government’s Immigration Bill.

     

    The Fulham-based Forum has organised the petition in support of the Movement Against Xenophobia (MAX), a campaign set up at the end of last year to oppose the legislation which has been condemned by a Bishop as ‘pernicious’, by a Lib Dem peer as ‘evil’ and by a Labour baroness as having been introduced “in a climate of hatred.”

     

    The petition is being promoted on the 38 Degrees website by Phil Cooper, Media Officer for the Refugee Forum. He said:

     

    “Immigration has become a major political issue and this legislation has been devised by the Home Secretary Theresa May to ‘create a hostile environment for illegal migrants’. But, in their desire to be seen as ‘tough’, the government has produced a bill that threatens to have a negative impact on all ethnic communities and to undermine British justice.”

     

    Among the many aspects of the Bill that the Refugee Forum wants to see amended is one that will require all private landlords to check accurately the immigration status of their tenants or face a £3,000 fine. GP surgeries will also be expected to check that patients are British citizens or have leave to remain in the UK.

     

    This, say the Bill’s opponents, is turning ordinary people into ‘border guards.’ Checking immigration status is very complex and there is already a massive backlog of cases under current Home Office rules. The new law, if approved, would mean landlords would be likely to avoid letting property to anyone who looked or sounded foreign while people eligible for medical treatment would be refused it by mistake.

     

    More worrying still were plans to deny migrants and asylum seekers basic legal appeal rights meaning they would be worse off than convicted criminals.

    “Hammersmith and Fulham is home to thousands of refugees and migrants who are living and working here quite legally,” says Mr Cooper. “ The different ethnic groups and the host community have got on well together for many years. This situation is under threat because of this legislation which is why we, the MAX campaign and like-minded organisations throughout the country, want to see major amendments to the Bill.”

     

    The Immigration Bill will be debated in the House of Lords on March 3 and amendments will then have to be ratified by the House of Commons.

    The online petition can be found at: https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/reject-government-inspired-xenophobia#

     

    ENDS

     

    Notes to Editors:

    • At a meeting organised by MAX in the Palace of Westminster in January the Bishop of Newcastle described it as “a pernicious Bill”, Lord Roberts of Llandudno, a Liberal Democrat, denounced it as “an evil Bill”. Labour peeress Baroness Lister commented: “You cannot divorce this Bill from the climate of hate in which it has been introduced.”
    • Even a former speech writer for Prime Minister David Cameron, journalist Ian Birrell, has concluded that the government was “taking another step into the stinking gutter of xenophobia”.
    • Recently the Immigration Minister responsible for the Bill – Mark Harper MP – resigned after he had failed to check accurately the immigration status of a cleaner he had been employing for several years. If the minister, backed up by Home Office civil servants could make such a mistake what chance will landlords and GPs have of getting it right?
    • If the Bill becomes law in its present form it will become practically impossible for an asylum seeker or migrant to appeal against an unfavorable court ruling (even if that is based on the court’s use of inaccurate information); people will be deported BEFORE an appeal is heard in a ‘sentence first, verdict afterwards’ procedure that even Alice in Wonderland would have found unacceptable! The Home Secretary will have the power to restrict access to immigration appeals tribunals and order a tribunal to dismiss an application.
    • Hammersmith and Fulham Refugee Forum is an umbrella body representing the interests of up to 30 refugee community organisations based in the borough. Its member groups cover the following ethnicities: Afghans, Bosnians, Ethiopians, Eritreans, Iraqis, Iranians, Kurds, Somalis, Sudanese, Zimbabweans.

    27th February 2014

     

  • Refugee Week event success

    This year’s Refugee Week  event was a colourful, multicultural celebration of many of the ethnicities that have made the borough of Hammersmith & Fulham their home.

     

    The event, on the afternoon and evening of Friday June 21st, is the local contribution to the annual Refugee Week, a nationwide celebration of diversity and different cultures. The local event took place at the Polish Centre, Hammersmith, from 3pm to 7pm.

     

    The celebration, which was organised jointly by Hammersmith and Fulham Refugee Forum and Hammersmith & Fulham Volunteer Centre, featured traditional songs, music and dance from Iraqi and Iranian performers. With a special emphasis on young refugees, there was a quiz created by a youth group supported by the British Red Cross and by the Volunteer Centre’s Creative Minds Youth Panel and Events 4 Youth. Their tough questions tested how much the audience knew about the various countries from which refugees come to Britain and about popular culture.

     

    Local refugee groups in the borough set up stalls with information about their varied activities such as providing advice on employment, education and training, and health and wellbeing , as well as showing examples of traditional crafts. There were contributions from Bosnia, Iraq and Iran as well as groups working to provide assistance for those suffering from domestic violence and HIV Aids.

     

    Hammersmith MP Andy Slaughter and representatives of the Refugee Council and the Refugee Week national organising body were  also on hand. Certificates of achievement were presented to volunteers nominated by their organisations in recognition of their services to the local refugee community.

     

    Spokesman for Hammersmith and Fulham Refugee Forum Phil Cooper said: “Refugee Week is an opportunity to celebrate the contribution of refugees to the UK and encourages a better understanding between communities who are very much part of the life of this borough.”

     

    Luisa Messina, Head of Youth at Hammersmith & Fulham Volunteer Centre, said:

    “Refugee Week has always been a fantastic opportunity for celebrating diversity. Once again this year young people from different countries have come together to engage and entertain the audience with a fun quiz on popular culture.”

     

    This year marked Refugee Week’s 15th anniversary as a national event. Every year during Refugee Week hundreds of events are organised across the UK.

     

    Ends

    Further information contact: Phil Cooper, Press Officer, Hammersmith and Fulham Refugee Forum, on: 07889 949173

     

    Luisa Messina, Head of Youth, H& F Volunteer Centre, on: 020 8741 9876

  • Race and religious hate crime figures soar

    A rise in race and religious hate crimes across a number of West London boroughs has caused alarm at Hammersmith and Fulham Refugee Forum.

     

    Metropolitan Police Crime statistics show increases in this particular crime category in Hammersmith & Fulham, Ealing, and Kensington & Chelsea. Of these, Hammersmith and Fulham has recorded the largest rise, up 27.5% in the past year.

     

    Next comes Kensington and Chelsea with a 25% increase, followed by Ealing on 17%, which, as it happens, is the average increase in racist and religious hate crimes across London as a whole during 2012.

     

    “These statistics are very concerning,” said Phil Cooper for Hammersmith and Fulham Refugee Forum.” Sadly, it is not unusual for this type of crime, as well as domestic abuse, to rise during times of recession and austerity.”

     

    There was also the relentless attack on migrants that featured almost daily in certain national newspapers and was fanned by various government ministers and other prominent politicians.

     

    “Community cohesion is a vital ingredient of community life in the diverse boroughs of West London and it is under attack in so many ways with across the board cuts in funding for local groups who work with the various ethnicities,” said Mr Cooper.

     

    The Refugee Forum had always encouraged members to report to the police any incidents of racial hatred. “We would like to know what specific actions the police and the local authorities feel they can take in an effort to tackle this increase in a very pernicious crime,” he said.

     

    -Ends-

     

    March 14, 2013 

    For further information contact: Phil Cooper, Media Officer, Hammersmith and Fulham Refugee Forum, on: 07889 949173

     

    Notes to Editors:

     

    Check the latest crime statistics at http://www.met.police.uk/crimefigures/

     

    In the year to January 2012

     

    Race Hate and Religious Crimes

     

    Hammersmith & Fulham  315  (up from 247 in previous year)

    Kensington & Chelsea  235 (up from 188 in previous year)

    Ealing   407 (up from 346 in previous year)

     

  • Refugee groups weathered a ‘perfect storm’ in 2012

    Refugee groups in the borough of Hammersmith & Fulham have withstood a ‘perfect storm’ caused by the loss of funding and premises during 2012.

     

     This is what Kaveh Kalantari, chair of Hammersmith and Fulham Refugee Forum, will tell the organisation’s annual meeting on Thursday 20th December.

     

     The voluntary groups, that advise and support a wide range of refugees from different parts of the world, had been hit by a ‘funding famine’ caused by the recession. Ten groups had also lost their office premises when Hammersmith & Fulham Council sold off Palingswick House.

     

     But, Mr Kalantari told the groups meeting at the Polish Centre, Hammersmith, “Despite considerable difficulties faced by the refugee sector locally, we are still here.”

     

     And he will add: “Refugees are resilient people and their organisations, often built up over the years with nothing but determination, have continued to weather the perfect storm we have had to endure caused by a dramatic reduction in funding and the loss of premises.”

     

     Unfortunately,   a few of the Refugee Forum’s smaller voluntary group members had folded as a result of the pressures and were no longer able to assist the people that depended upon them.

     

     Many, however, have continued with reduced capacity but with no less a commitment to help, support and advise their members and the communities they serve. Although the Refugee Forum had itself suffered from a loss of funding it continued to offer a unique service to the refugee communities in the borough.

     

     It continued to run a serious of training workshops on a wide range of topics and also the annual Refugee Week celebration in June in partnership with Hammersmith & Fulham Volunteer Centre.

     

     A recent survey carried out by the Refugee Forum had found that some 30 refugee community groups were still active in the borough.

     

     Ends

    January 10, 2013

  • Call for better help to asylum women fleeing violence

    Hammersmith and Fulham Refugee Forum has welcomed local MP Andy Slaughter’s promise to ask the government to ensure asylum seeking women are given greater protection.

     

    The coalition is due to review its existing strategy aimed at tackling the issue of violence against women and girls. Campaigners, backed up by research from Oxfam and other organisations, fear that female asylum seekers will fail to be treated with sufficient care and sensitivity by UK Border Agency staff.

     

    Around 7,000 women each year claim asylum in the UK in their own right.  These are among the most vulnerable women in the country, many of whom are fleeing from rape, sexual violence and torture elsewhere in the world.

     

    The Coalition Government’s violence against women strategy only makes one mention of UK Border Agency staff treating women asylum seekers with fairness and respect. This, says the national charity Asylum Aid, does not go far enough. There must be a commitment to see that border staff understand gender-based persecution and are trained to the same level as the police who deal with rape and domestic abuse victims.

     

    Hammersmith and Fulham Refugee Forum contacted Hammersmith MP Andy Slaughter asking him to take up the matter with Home Secretary Theresa May. Mr Slaughter has agreed to do this.

     

    Phil Cooper, for the Refugee Forum, said: “We are delighted that our MP has agreed to support this issue and look forward to seeing what reply he receives from Mrs May.”

     

    Ends

     

    For further information contact: Phil Cooper, Media Officer, Hammersmith and Fulham Refugee Forum, on: 07889 949173

    30th September, 2012

  • Young people stars of Refugee Week celebration

    Refuge organisations from across the borough came together to celebrate their work and achievements last Friday (June 29).

    More than 150 people of all ages gathered at the Polish Centre, Hammersmith, for the annual Refugee Week event.

    Highlight of the celebration was a play and film by two dozen young refugees who dramatised their experiences of living in Britain. The RnB Refugee Befriending Project was organised by the British Red Cross with support from Hammersmith & Fulham Volunteer Centre.

    Hammersmith and Fulham Refugee Forum, which organised the celebrations, also awarded more than 40 certificates to volunteers for their work supporting the borough’s many refugee community groups.

    The certificates of achievement were presented to the individuals by special guest, newly elected Mayor of Hammersmith & Fulham Councillor Belinda Donovan, who praised their efforts.

    There were other speeches of support from local MP Andy Slaughter and Almir Koldzic, national organiser of Refugee Week which, as an annual event, has been held throughout the UK for the past 14 years.

    The audience, drawn from local Iraqi, Iranian, Eritrean, Somali, west African and Kurdish communities was also entertained by music from Japanese flautist Justin Senryu and Iranian santor and tombak players Sohrab Missaghian and Ali Torshizi.

    For the Refugee Forum, Co-ordinator Emad Al-Hamadani said: “Once again, this event illustrates how many nationalities and ethnic groups that have made Hammersmith their home come together to support one another and contribute in so many ways to the vibrancy of local life.”

    Ends

    For further information contact:

    Phil Cooper, Media Officer , Hammersmith and Fulham Refugee Forum, on:07889 949173

    July 1st, 2012
  • Refugee Week event plans get underway

    Local refugees of all ages will be making a colourful song and dance in a multi-cultural event in Hammersmith at the end of this month.

    The event, on the afternoon and evening of June 29th, is the local contribution to the annual Refugee Week, a nationwide celebration of diversity and different cultures. The local event will take place at the Polish Centre, Hammersmith, from 4pm to 8pm.

    The celebration, which is being organised jointly by Hammersmith and Fulham Refugee Forum and Hammersmith & Fulham Volunteer Centre, will feature traditional songs and music from a range of cultures as well as international cuisine. With a special emphasis on young refugees, there will be a drama performance from a youth group supported by the British Red Cross and by the Volunteer Centre’s Creative Minds Youth Panel and Events 4 Youth who have created the backdrops and produced the music for the event.

    Local refugee groups in the borough will have stalls with information about their varied activities such as providing advice on employment, education and training as well as showing examples of traditional crafts. There will be contributions from Bosnia, Kurdistan, Iraq and Iran as well as Somalia and Sudan .Other local organisations who work with the refugee sector will also be on hand with details of their services. Once again refreshments at the event are being sponsored by Hammersmith-based Coca Cola.

    Hammersmith MP Andy Slaughter and representatives of the Refugee Council will be on hand to present achievement certificates to refugee group volunteers nominated by their respective organisations.

    Co-ordinator of Hammersmith and Fulham Refugee Forum Emad Al-Hamadani said: “Refugee Week is an opportunity to celebrate the contribution of refugees to the UK, and encourages a better understanding between communities. We hope this event in Hammersmith will contribute to that improvement in understanding and we welcome anyone who is interested in the local refugee community organisations and their work to drop in.”

    Luisa Messina, Head of Youth at Hammersmith & Fulham Volunteer Centre said:

    “Refugee Week has always been a fantastic opportunity for celebrating diversity. This year young people from different countries have come together to share their experience through a number of creative activities which will be showcased on the day. Do come and join us! And you’ll be able to meet our young artists!”

    This year is Refugee Week’s 14th anniversary as a national event. Every year during Refugee Week hundreds of events are organised across the UK.

     Ends

     Further information contact: Emad Al-Hamadani, Co-ordinator, on: 020 7386 6090, Phil Cooper, Press Officer, on: 07889 949173

    Luisa Messina, Head of Youth, H& F Volunteer Centre, on: 020 8741 9876

    Notes to Editors:

    The Refugee Week celebration takes place at the Polish Centre, Blacks Road, Hammersmith, from 4pm to 8pm.  You are welcome to send a reporter and photographer.

     Visit the Refugee Week national website on www.refugeeweek.org.uk

    7th June, 2012

Recent News