Joint Interfaith Iftar

HFOF and Al-Mustafa Welfare Trust held a jointly organised Iftar on Thursday 7th April.

Thanks to the generosity of West Thames College the Joint Iftar was held in the beautiful Music Room and Winter Garden Room of Spring Grove House. About fifty people representing most of the faith communities in the borough, West London Humanists, Hounslow Council and the Police attended the meeting. Charanjit AjitSingh, Chair of Hounslow Friends of Faith and Asma Bilal of Al-Mustafa Welfare Trust were co-hosts and introduced the speakers see pictures below:

Michael Michaelides, Executive Director of Resources and Student Experience at West Thames College welcomed everyone and gave a brief introduction about the college which is a diverse community of 6,000 students. Then Rizana Latif, a founder Trustee of Al-Mustafa Welfare Trust, explained that the Ramadan fast month reminds Muslims to be ‘God conscious’ and become more responsible human beings which includes giving charity to those in need. Shafiq Rehman, a Trustee of HFOF, brought greetings from Hounslow Jamia Masjid where he is General Secretary. He said that Ramadan fasting is not just about abstaining from food and drink but about purifying the heart in order to come closer to God and that all people are united by a common humanity and must work together for justice. Maqsood Ahmed, Director of UK projects for Al-Mustafa Welfare Trust, spoke about the work of the charity. Projects in the UK include help for the homeless, distribution of unsold food to the needy and a resettlement programme for female Muslim prisoners released from Bronzefield Prison. Some of the Trust’s many international projects mentioned were cataract operations performed around the world, a specialist eye hospital in Lahore in Pakistan, provision of water bore holes and pumps in desert areas and helping to build mosques with solar panels which in many ways give help to poor communities.

At sunset the Muslims present had the opportunity to say prayers in the Banks Room and break their fast. Then everyone enjoyed a delicious plant based meal, courtesy of Al-Mustafa Trust, provided by caterers Cha Cha’z of Feltham.

New Patrons of Hounslow Friends of Faith

Ajit Singh MBE and Prem Sondhi were appointed as Patrons on 18th November 2021 at the Hounslow Friends of Faith Interfaith Week meeting held in Hounslow House. Both have given longstanding support to Hounslow Friends of Faith and to promoting interfaith harmony.

Boost your immunity

Hospitals, GPs and pharmacies in North West London are responding to the urgent need to offer all adults the Covid booster vaccine following the emergence of the Omicron variant of Covid-19.

It is clear that two doses of vaccine does not prevent spread of Omicron as well as it does for the other variants. However, there is no evidence to suggest that the vaccines will not continue to reduce severe disease significantly and there is increasing confidence that the booster vaccines provides a very good level of protection.

People who have so far not been vaccinated or have only had one dose are also being urged to come forward so that they and their loved ones are protected.

In order to vaccinate as many people as possible, as quickly as possible, the local NHS, in partnership with local councils, is providing thousands of additional vaccination appointments. For information on where to get your jab,  how to book and where walk-in jabs may be available,  go to www.nwlondonccg.nhs.uk/coronavirus/vaccine-centres . Please note that the best way to guarantee your jab is to book in advance, as walk-in vaccination will depend on availability.

GPs are now vaccinating patients 12 hours a day, as are local pharmacy vaccination sites. Hospitals, local councils, mental health and community services are all supporting the vaccination programme.

For the latest information visit our website – https://www.nwlondonccg.nhs.uk/

Covid-19 Vaccination

Anxious or unsure about being vaccinated against Covid-19?

Here is a link to videos of NHS staff urging acceptance of the covid-19 vaccine in many different languages:

https://www.england.nhs.uk/london/our-work/covid-19-vaccine-communication-materials/

URGENT INFORMATION FOR ALL KEYWORKERS and RESIDENTS about CORONA VIRUS TESTING  

Hounslow will be hosting a Mobile Testing Unit for coronavirus testing for keyworkers and residents at Grasshoppers’ Rugby Club, Osterley, on Tuesday 23rd June and Wednesday 24th June 2020. 

Mobile Testing Units are an essential part of the national testing programme as they offer pedestrian appointments as well as drive-through appointments.  

You must register via the gov.uk portal before attending a mobile testing unit, and bring your 16-digit code or appointment confirmation with you on your mobile phone.  

Testing site location: 

Grasshoppers Rugby Club, Syon Lane, Osterley, Isleworth,  TW7 5PN 

Criteria for testing if you are a KEYWORKER 

You can use this testing facility if you are: 

  •  an essential worker 
  • live with an essential worker  

If you are an essential worker in the NHS or social care you can be tested with or without symptoms. Regular testing is important for staff to prevent outbreaks of coronavirus among vulnerable residents.  

If you are an essential worker, but not in the NHS or social care, you can get tested if you are within the first five days of coronavirus symptoms.  

Coronavirus symptoms are: 

  • a high temperature 
  • a new, continuous cough 
  • a loss of or change to your sense of smell or taste 

Criteria for testing of RESIDENTS 

Anyone over the age of 5 who is symptomatic is now able to receive a test at one of the testing centres. You should be within the first 5 days of symptoms when you have your test, as otherwise it is not effective.  

Coronavirus symptoms are: 

  • a high temperature 
  • a new, continuous cough 
  • a loss of or change to your sense of smell or taste 

This test can tell you if you have coronavirus at the time the swab sample is taken. The test to tell if you’ve ever had coronavirus (‘antibody test’) is not available yet. 

The information on certain pages on the gov.uk website may contradict this. This has been flagged to the national team operating the website. Please be assured that the criteria listed above are the most up to date and correct for testing.  

Book an appointment: 

Appointments are open for both Tuesday and Wednesday at Grasshoppers’ Mobile Testing Unit from 8pm on Monday 22nd June via the gov.uk link:  https://www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-getting-tested 

If you would like a pedestrian appointment at the Mobile Testing Unit, please put “unknown” in the box requiring your vehicle registration number. This should allow you to continue the booking process.  

If you have any problems refer to the helpline detailed below, or you can use the 16-digit authorisation code that is sent you via SMS and go to the testing centre anytime on foot or in a car between 10.30 and 15.30 where local authority staff will help you. Please do not take public transport.  

The testing centre will be operating between 10.30-15.30 on both Tuesday and Wednesday.   

Alternative testing provision 

Please note that if an appointment is not available at the Grasshoppers’ site, then the same testing criteria apply for bookings at the Twickenham testing site and they operate 7 days a week. They do however only offer drive-in appointments. 

There are also home testing kits available, bookable via the same self-service portal on the gov.uk website.  

Questions or problems 

If anyone has any problems booking via the portal, please contact the National Coronavirus Testing Helpline on 0300 303 2713  

Capacity for testing is limited so is released on an hourly basis; it is recommended to try at regular intervals to access an appointment.  

If you have any questions about testing, please contact publichealth@hounslow.gov.uk 

#Blacklivesmatter

Councillor Katherine Dunne, Cabinet Member for Communities and Climate Emergency at Hounslow Council, published this statement on Tuesday 2nd June:

“We are deeply saddened ​and angered by the death of George Floyd and our thoughts and prayers go out to his family.

For this reason we will be lighting up Hounslow House in purple this evening (Tuesday 2 June) to stand in solidarity with ​black people in the US, the UK and around the world​.

It is incumbent on all of us to stand up to discrimination, violence, racism and injustice and to declare that Black Lives Matter.”

Act of Committment

At the turn of the Millennium the faith communities of the UK developed this Act of Commitment. The interfaith group, Hounslow Friends of Faith, continues to share and commit to the same aims.

The Act of Commitment

In a world scarred by the evils of war,
racism, injustice and poverty,
we offer this joint Act of Commitment as we
look to our shared future.

We commit ourselves,
as people of many faiths,
to work together
for the common good,
uniting to build a better society,
grounded in values and ideals we share:

community,
personal integrity,
a sense of right and wrong,
learning, wisdom and love of truth,
care and compassion,
justice and peace,
respect for one another,
for the earth and its creatures.

We commit ourselves,
in a spirit of friendship and co-operation,
to work together
alongside all who share our values and ideals,
to help bring about a better world
now and for generations to come.

An important message on funerals

Father Luke Miller, Anglican Archdeacon of London, Chair of the Faith Cell of the London Resilience Strategic Coordination Group writes:

When a loved one dies it is very important to know that they are being treated with dignity and respect. All those involved in the death management process are aware of this and, in particular,  of the need in some faiths for funerals to take place as soon as possible after death. Others would prefer to wait longer for a burial or cremation than is currently feasible.

However, it is important to know that there are currently significant pressures beyond anyone’s control which may cause delays and difficulties. Automatic referrals to the Coroner, which occur when a loved one has not seen a doctor in the 28 days before their death, are a significant factor which can cause delay for those who have died in the community. In addition, there are sadly many more burials and cremations taking place than usual and many staff are off sick.

Please be assured that the needs of families are at the centre of a great deal of work that is going on to address these issues but it is inevitable that challenges will remain. Please do share this message with your own communities to raise awareness of these issues and encourage families to work with your faith Funeral Directors to help move things forward at this very difficult time.

IMPORTANT INFORMATION for Faith Leaders concerning care of the deceased

To all faith organisations Kelly O’Neill, the Director of Public Health for Hounslow, is happy to take any questions, and consider and respond to any concerns your organisations may have at this time in regards to health matters, however, can I ask you to feed them into my inbox for collation and passing on joan.conlon@hounslow.gov.uk  As you can imagine her email account is swamped. 

If you click on the link below it will provide what we hope is clear and unambiguous advice.  

The guidance is: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-guidance-for-care-of-the-deceased/guidance-for-care-of-the-deceased-with-suspected-or-confirmed-coronavirus-covid-19#responders

In terms of infection control we are advised that ‘from a PH view and based on the reference in the above document regarding handling the body that that there is a small but real risk of contamination and infection transmission, the body handling and washing should not be done by an individual who is within the defined vulnerable group – an older person and/ or someone with a health condition. 

All persons cleaning and handling a body if this is absolutely necessary should be wearing personal protective equipment of fluid resistant masks, gloves and aprons, and should be strictly adhering to meticulous hand hygiene guidance.

Going forward Kelly has confirmed she is happy to have a discussion with any faith leaders who wants help about interpretation of this guidance.

Holocaust Day Event

This year’s Holocaust Memorial Day Event was hosted by St Mark’s Secondary School, Hounslow on Monday 27th January. The event was led by the Area Dean Reverend Richard Frank and attended by the Mayor, the Deputy Mayor, the Leader of Hounslow Council and other members of the Council, local MP Ruth Cadbury, representatives from Hounslow Friends of Faith, the local community and pupils from the school. The theme was Stand Together.

The Guest Speaker was Natalie Cumming who gave an enthralling talk based around her book ‘The Fiddle’, a true story about her family and how a violin helped her family to flee from Bolshevik Russia in the 20th century and her aunt to later survive in Auschwitz and Belsen Nazi concentration camps. Members of the school orchestra played the Nimrod theme and  the school drama department performed a dramatised reading of the poem Tormented Hearts by Misba Sheikh.