Garden of Lament, Covid, Ramadan, homing cats and Islamophobia

Garden of Lament, St John's, Hoxton

Garden of Lament, St John's, Hoxton - Credit: Anya Sizer and Cllr Kam Adams

Garden of reflection helps us face grief and isolation

Anya Sizer and Cllr Kam Adams (Hoxton East and Shoreditch), write:

We would like to highlight the creation of a Garden of Lament by St John Hoxton, for anyone of any age in the community to use.

We visited it recently and were both incredibly moved by the space they have created for the community.

The past year has brought so many challenges, difficulties, and heartache for many of us and yet these experiences have so often been faced in isolation. 

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Unable to meet others properly we have all struggled to process the effects of the pandemic, to fully share our grief in the usual way with family and friends.

It is because of this very human need to share and reach out to others that St John’s Church in Hoxton have provided a space for people to come and take stock. 

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Each ribbon tied represents a prayer with different colours for different emotions: red for anger, blue for sadness, green for fear and yellow for hope.

The garden of reflection has taken everyone by surprise in how popular it has proved to be. 

When we turned up people were writing messages on the chalk boards, tying colourful ribbons to reflect various emotions, and walking around the beautiful crochet letters. 

What was clear was that this space is incredibly needed and provides a vital link for us all in starting to reconnect and to share our experiences again. It was lovely too to see all ages involved, one child asking us why we had chosen the ribbon that we had and why we felt hopeful. For me personally it was lovely to find a moment of peace, and to remember again the importance of caring for each other.

As we start to emerge slowly from this difficult year, spaces like this may well provide some of the answer in how we start to come together again and rebuild our communities.

The Garden of Lament is well worth visiting and spending some time in reflection and quiet, as a place of where you can express some of your thoughts and feelings about the last year.

On right track but stick to the rules

Professor Kevin Fenton, London regional director, Public Health England, writes:

This week we have had the chance to see family and friends again outdoors in a group of six, or two households.

The careful lifting of these restrictions has been possible thanks to the efforts of all Londoners in sticking to the rules up to now, helping bring infection rates down across the capital.

But although we have made significant progress, the pandemic is far from over and the situation remains delicate. The return to normal life needs to be taken step by step and we can only move to the next stage if we make a success of the last.

It therefore remains vital we do not get complacent and continue limiting transmission over the Easter holidays and beyond. That means sticking to the Rule of Six and avoiding the temptation to meet others in larger groups or indoor settings, as well as remembering the basics of Hands, Face, Space and Fresh Air.

We are on the right track for a return to normality but we must all help ensure the next step we take is forwards, not back.

Diabetes advice during Ramadan

The East London Mosque which is closed, at Maghrib prayer during the holy month of Ramadan, as the U

The East London Mosque during Ramadan - Credit: PA Images

Roz Rosenblatt, London head, Diabetes UK, writes:

We would like to offer people in the Muslim community who live with diabetes help and advice to stay healthy during Ramadan – especially in the continuing Covid-19 pandemic.

We know Qur’an requires Muslims to fast during the month of Ramadan from sunrise to sunset. There are exceptions and people who are unwell or have medical conditions are not required to fast – and this includes people with diabetes.

Some people with diabetes may still choose to fast. Those who choose to fast are advised to 
include more slowly absorbed foods (low GI), such as basmati rice and dhal, along with fruit 
and vegetables in their meal at the end of each day’s fast. 

People should also check their blood sugar levels more often than usual.

It’s also worth noting that if you are observing Ramadan and have decided to fast, receiving the coronavirus vaccine does not break your fast. So, please get the vaccine if you are invited to book an appointment. 

We advise people that if they are unwell or have any symptoms of Covid-19 they should not fast and call 111 for further advice.

People can find further advice on our website,

Pioneering year for our charity

James Yeates, CEO, Cats Protection, writes:

At Cats Protection we have much to be grateful for.

This year has challenged us like never before but we have come through with greater focus and a renewed commitment to improving the welfare of cats and supporting better cat ownership.

As we mark the anniversary of the first lockdown measures, we want to learn from our shared successes and experiences and acknowledge what we have achieved together.

One year ago we launched Hands-Free Homing, a pioneering online adoption process that has become the new normal. Prospective owners pick a pet from our website and, after a chat with our adoption team, the cat is delivered to its new home. 

This programme has been a triumph, allowing us to successfully match more than 20,000 cats with their forever homes to provide much-needed companionship. Additionally, the number of cats returned by their new owner has gone down by a third.

We do not underestimate this incredible achievement and the dedication of everyone involved in helping us reach this milestone.

It is just one example of how our team of colleagues, volunteers and supporters have risen to every challenge and proven how we can progress by embracing change. Thanks to their hard work, cats in need continue to receive our support, even in these most trying times.

I would like to thank everyone at Cats Protection who has contributed to our response to extraordinary circumstances and who continues to be part of our outstanding team.

Racism is still a blight on society

Cllr Khaled Noor, chair, Muslim Professionals Forum (MPF), writes:

The MPF is pleased by some of the evidence the Commission has collected in the report from the Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities in the UK – for example, the data showing that young BAME people are, on average, doing well at school.

But we are very concerned that they have not given due weight to the incidents of racism – and Islamophobia – which minority groups experience on an everyday basis.

The MPF has recently started working with partners in the legal profession on identifying Islamophobia in the legal profession and judicial system. It is important that the Commission’s Report does not dampen the enthusiasm to do this kind of work.

Muslim professionals can do a great deal to ensure that young Muslim professionals are supported in the workplace and that management practices do not discriminate against BAME and/or Muslim staff. 

We would be pleased to hear from and to assist anyone who has concerns about Islamophobia in the workplace.

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