Poisonous air, Covid, Ramadan, rehoming cats and Islamophobia

We need to do more to reduce the amount of toxic air

Jeremy Drew, Islington Green Party, writes:

Although progress has been made recently, the toxic air in London remains a major problem.

A recent study by Imperial College found that 90 to 100 people died in Islington in 2019 from the effects of toxic air caused by human activities.

Air pollution is a particular problem for children, especially children with asthma. Young children are particularly vulnerable to the effects of air pollution as it can slow down their lung growth.

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Air pollution is also a problem for the elderly, where it can worsen heart and lung problems, worsen dementia, and potentially cause more Covid-19-related deaths.

Motorized vehicles cause around half of the air pollution, which is a particular problem in Inner London.

In Islington, many areas are often exposed to concentrations of NO2 in excess of the 2010 ordinance (40 µg / m3).

Last week, Living Streets hosted its annual Hiking Summit and concluded that far more needs to be done to reduce air pollution, and that walking at safer intersections, low-traffic areas, and slower speeds are inclusive ways to achieve that goal.

Even in the current Ultra Low Emissions Zone (ULEZ), petrol vehicles before Euro 4 and diesel vehicles before Euro 6 have to pay a fee for driving in a zone that is connected to the inner ring road.

The extension of North Circular Road in October will help keep our air clean. Given that there are many elderly people living on the outskirts, this should be extended to the outskirts of London.

We should also reassess the way we allocate road space, prioritize public transport, and walking and cycling.

This means there should be no new roads like the Silvertown Tunnel, and we need a smart, fair road tolling scheme based on mileage and engine emissions to prevent the use of larger vehicles and reduce the total number of kilometers driven.

Such an approach can make life healthier and more comfortable for the majority of Londoners, especially in Islington where traffic is so heavy even though few people own cars.

On the right track but stick to the rules

Professor Kevin Fenton, London Regional Director, Public Health England, writes:

This week we had the opportunity to see family and friends in a group of six or two households again outside.

The careful lifting of these restrictions has been made possible thanks to the efforts of all Londoners to comply with the previous rules and reduce infection rates across the capital.

While we have made significant progress, the pandemic is far from over and the situation remains delicate. The return to normal life must be gradual, and we can only move to the next stage if we succeed in the last.

It therefore remains important that we don’t get complacent and further restrict broadcasting over the Easter holidays and beyond. This means sticking to the rule of six and avoiding the temptation to meet others in larger groups or indoors, as well as remembering the basics of hands, face, space, and fresh air.

We are on track for a return to normal, but we all need to help ensure that the next step is forward, not backward.

Diabetes counseling during Ramadan

Roz Rosenblatt, Head of London, Diabetes UK, writes:

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

We know that the Qur’an requires Muslims to fast from sunrise to sunset in the month of Ramadan. There are exceptions and people who feel unwell or have an illness do not need 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 slower absorbing (lower GI) foods like basmati rice and dhal, and fruits and vegetables in their meal at the end of each day of fasting. People should also check their blood sugar levels more often than usual.

It’s also worth noting that getting the coronavirus vaccine won’t break your fast if you’re observing Ramadan and choosing to fast. So please get the vaccine when asked to make an appointment.

We encourage people if they feel uncomfortable or have symptoms of Covid-19 not to fast and call 111 for further advice.
Visit our website at diabetes.org.uk/Ramadan for more advice

Pioneering year for our charity

Cat Protection has resumed 20,000 cats through their Hands Free Homing program
– Credit: PA

James Yeates, CEO of Cats Protection, writes:

At Cats Protection we have to be very grateful.

This year has challenged us like never before, but we won through with greater focus and renewed commitment to improving cat welfare and supporting better cat ownership.

On the occasion of the anniversary of the first lockdown measures, we would like to learn from our mutual successes and experiences and recognize what we have achieved together.

A year ago we started Hands-Free Homing, a groundbreaking online adoption process that has become the new normal. Potential owners select a pet from our website and after speaking with our adoption team, the cat will be moved to its new home.

This program was a triumph that enabled us to successfully bring more than 20,000 cats together with their eternal homes to provide the much-needed companionship. In addition, the number of cats returned by their new owner has decreased by a third.

We do not underestimate this incredible achievement and the commitment of everyone involved to achieve this milestone.

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

I’d like to thank everyone at Cats Protection for helping us respond to exceptional circumstances and for continuing to be part of our amazing team.

Racism is still a disease for society

Cllr Khaled Noor, Chairman of the Muslim Professionals Forum (MPF), writes:

The MPF is pleased with some of the evidence the commission gathered in the report by the Commission on Racial and Ethnic Differences in the UK – for example, the data showing that young BAME people do well on average at school.

However, we are very concerned that they have not given due weight to the incidents of racism – and Islamophobia – that minority groups experience on a daily basis.

The MPF has recently started working with partners in the legal profession to identify Islamophobia in the legal profession and the judicial system. It is important that the Commission’s report does not dampen enthusiasm for this type of work.

Muslim professionals can do a lot 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’d love to hear from and help anyone with concerns about Islamophobia in the workplace.

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