Monday, 29 December 2008

2008... what a year for East London!

2008 was an eventful package this side of London.

One of the main issues challenging us is crime. Of the 23 London teenagers that died because of stab wounds in 2008, we lost Nabil Bakurally from Ilford and also Charles Junior Hendricks from Walthamstow.

It was interesting to see the local community and police work closely to tackle the problem of teenage violence. In Stoke Newington, for example, every night residents were complaining to the police about troublsome teenagers who were causing trouble on the estates in the area. The boys covered their faces with bandanas when they striked. As a result, the police slapped a ban in the area, barring youngsters from wearing bandanas.

The fight against other types of crime was also stepped up. In Barking and Dagenham, the local council introduced talking CCTV cameras and in Tower Hamlets, in an attempt to reduce prostitution in the area, the local council had a crackdown on kerb crawlers. For the first time, culprits were offered the opporutnity to attend a Change Course instead of appearing in court. The course, paid for by kerb crawlers themselves, taught men about the women they seek out and how it affects their girlfriends or wives.

Parts of East London are still grapling with high poverty. This year the End Child Poverty report stated that almost half the children living in parts of East London (like Bethnal Green, Bow and Barking) come from families where the parents are not in a job and are living on benefits. As a result, many of the children have a grim childhood. The credit crunch has not helped matters, with some families falling prey to loan sharks. It was welcome news then when the East London-based charity Quaker Social Action, won the top prize at the Charity Awards in July for their projects to help poor families in the area.

On the sport front, there were more messy issues uncovered around the 2012 Olympics money pot; the latest being that the government might fail to get businesses to fund the International Broadcast and Media centre, which is a key 2012 site. But fear not, the games will take place.

On the people front, Stratford-based sprinter Christine Ohurugu roped a gold medal at the Beijing Olympics and did us all proud. Ray Lewis came to the light as Boris Johnson’s deputy youth mayor. As founder of the Eastside Young Learning Academy, it was said he had enough clout to tackle the capital’s youth crime, especially in the black commnity. However, he resigned in July. Boris was quoted in the Telegraph newspaper saying that the allegations surrounding Lewis's resignation did not stop him “found a school that has done untold good for East London children and they should not stop him from serving as my deputy mayor.”

There’s no ommiting Hackney lass Leona Lewis. The X Factor star received three Grammy nominations for the 51st Grammy Awards this month. Her record Bleeding Love was nominated for Record of the Year, as well as Best Female Pop Vocal Performance.

And now for 2009 … what’s in store for us?

Monday, 15 December 2008

Upton Park woman returns after forced marriage drama

The recently enforced Forced Marriage Act is already proving to be useful to communities in this part of London.

Monday, 8 December 2008

Forestgate £20m heroin stash uncovered

Heroin worth £20m has been found hidden in a Forestgate house. I never imagined there was so much going on in Forestgate!

Police say they got a tip-off that the sparesly decorated three-bedroom property in Meath Road, Forestgate, was being used as a safehouse for class A drugs.

Inside the house, officers found four brown cardboard boxes stacked on top of a single bed in one of the side bedrooms. Inside each of the boxes was approximately 140-160 envelopes stashed with a quantity of heroin.

It is believed these were all packaged ready for distribution. In total, it is estimated that over 150 kilos of high-grade heroin was seized, with an estimated street value of £20 million pounds.

DI Stephenson from the Met's Central Task Force East said, "This is one of the most significant drugs seizures by the Met this year, and has seriously disrupted a major criminal network planning to flood London with heroin for the Christmas period.”

Monday, 1 December 2008

6500 people needed to make Christmas special

Local charity Crisis is looking for volunteers to help give homeless people an unforgetable week this month.

Last year 6500 volunteers helped serve the homeless hot meals, and get medical treatment and blankets, and a wide range of essential services that they often miss out on. For the past 37 years, Crisis Christmas has also helped alleviate the loneliness and depresion some of them go through especially during Christmas time.

The organisation will open Christmas Centres across London from 23 – 30 December.

For more information contact Crisis on Tel: 020 7426 3874 or email:

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And talking about Christmas cheer, I was at the shopping mall in Barking recently and one floor up from the massive Christmas tree there, I cought these three fellas (pictured) sending it off. Aren’t they sweet?