Friday, 29 May 2009

Essex's Diversity wins Britain's Got Talent 2009

Essex dance group Diversity has worked hard to win this year's Britain’s Got Talent. Some of the 11 guys come from Dagenham, Leytonstone and Rainham.

Recently, young Ashton Russell, who plays Michael Jackson in the musical Thriller, said his Dagenham school, Robert Clack, helped him get ahead with his stuff.

With youngsters getting this far this soon, there’s no doubt there’s more opportunities out there to exploit. It also demands hard work too. Diversity’s Ashley Banjo says you have to take opportunities when they come along.

“We did lots of dangerous stuff, and at one point little Perri was 12ft in the air. It was much more difficult than our earlier stuff. We knew we had to push it to the next level to get through,” he adds.

Friday, 22 May 2009

Britain's First Somalian Mayor hails from Tower Hamlets

What do you know about the Somalian community here? You might what to add onto your list Ahmed Omer, the first Somalian to be elected a mayor in Britain.

Omer, who represents Bow East, came to Britain in the 1970’s. He now lives in Bethnal Green and works for the East London Somali Welfare Centre.

I told a Somalian friend of mine about this development, and she was surprised - apparently she’d never heard of Ahmed Omer or his appointment(despite living in Tower Hamlets for a while). Nevertheless she seemed pleased.

There are quite a few places in East London where you can find out more about Somalians here. For example the Somali Employment and Training organisation works closely with this community to discuss the challenges they face and help place them in employment. The organisation says this community faces 'multiple challenges'.

The organisation also aims to help cut poverty and isolation amongst refugees from Somalia.

Thursday, 14 May 2009

Dagenham school’s struggle pays off

Believe me, there’s some good things coming out of Dagenham, one of the most deprived boroughs in London.

Forget the sour taste about the plans for a prison there (see previous post), this week the Evening Standard honoured a Dagenham school Robert Clack for its ‘outstanding achievement in challenging circumstances’ after its good pass rates in A-levels and GCSEs.

Some of the challenges faced included weeding out bad behavior. The head teacher Paul Grant had to suspend 300 pupils in his first week.

The paper also noted the talent churned out of Robert Clack School, in the form of Ashton Russell (pictured above).

The 15 year-old Dagenham boy plays young Michael Jackson in the West End musical Thriller.

Ashton said: “It is the best thing that has ever happened to me and now I feel like I can make a career out of singing and dancing. My school has been pushing me further all the time.”

Wednesday, 6 May 2009

Resistance to Dagenham Prison plan

Not everyone is happy about developments in Dagenham at this point in time, least of all the plans for a new prison.

From what I’ve learnt in the Barking and Dagenham Recorder, it is clear the plans are a hot slap in the face for the Dagenahm MP John Cruddas (Labour).

Apparently he stormed out of the House of Commons saying he had been informed just 20 minutes before the Minister unveiled the plans. He called it a shoddy backstage deal. It is understood the prison will be built on the old Ford site and will keep up to 1,500 prisoners. The Council claims hundreds of jobs will be built.

Those huffing and puffing alongside Cruddas include members of the Facebook group ‘No Prison in Dagenham’. One member of this group has made it clear he will remove his mom from the area because of this. I don't know how this will in turn move the Justice Secretary Jack Straw, but anway ...

A cheekier member of this group says there’s no need to build a prison in Dagenham, because the authorities can simply put a wall around Barking.

But others are less kind to Cruddas and his crew. “dagenham is a hole anyway. What difference will a prison make. all the crims in daggers wont have to travel far to go to her majestys hotel,” another said.