Kol Chai’s involvement with Harrow Citizens
Providing help and advice for tenants
Ear marking ‘registered rented properties’, our aim was to listen to tenants’ experiences with their landlords and to distribute our leaflet: ‘Advice & Help for Tenants’. Exploitation by unscrupulous landlords and poor maintenance of properties is all too common, as we discovered in a meeting with councillor Jo Smith at the civic centre in April. She heads Harrow Council’s Enforcement Team, rooting out rogue landlords and trying to improve the quality of private rented properties in Harrow.
We intend to organise a second leaflet drop exercise in July and will report back on any further progress.
Providing help, advice and information on mental health provision
Since the Founding Assembly of Harrow Citizens in April 2018, Kol Chai have delivered several awareness and prevention initiatives within our communities, including a mental health Shabbat service at Kol Chai, manning a stall at St Albans Church Christmas fair and a leafleting event in the High Street in Pinner. We have used our Directory of Mental Health Services in Harrow as a focus at these events. You will have received a copy of this Directory with the latest edition of the Kol Chai diary. Recently, we have developed another Directory specifically for Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services in Harrow.
Since January, we have held meetings with all three Harrow MPs, Gareth Thomas, Bob Blackman and Nick Hurd. They are all supportive of our work. We drafted a letter, which the MPs sent to the head teachers of all the schools in their constituencies, enclosing our two Directories of Mental Health Services. These will provide valuable information to teachers, parents and students. We also asked a series of questions about the level of mental health support available to the students at each school. We are currently reviewing the responses and building a picture of what support is available and where the gaps are. This will enable us to use evidence in a campaign to improve services.
We also held meetings with both the Harrow Council Director of Public Health and the Borough Director for Mental Health. In each case we made some specific “asks” around improving mental health services (both preventative and acute) for the people of Harrow. We anticipate a continuing relationship with both Directors to ensure these improvements are put in place.
Isobel Lawrence, Lead, Mental Health Action Team
Helping resettle Syrian refugee families
Report from Kol Chai member Shirley Gurevitz
I was one of about 75 people at a very successful interfaith evening celebrating the progress of the multi-faith project to resettle Syrian refugee families in Harrow, hosted by St Peters Church, Harrow.
Two houses have been made available to resettle Syrian refugees later in the year. This is a Government scheme and Harrow Council will be the responsible Local Authority. There was a further call to ask for additional housing that could be offered so that more refugees could be helped.
Three faith leaders, who represented the Communities involved with Harrow Citizens and this particular project, explained why it was important for them to participate. The first speaker was Rev. Rod Green, vicar of St Peters, followed by our own Rabbi Naomi and last Sheikh Alihusayn Datoo, KSIMC Stanmore Mosque. Rabbi Naomi spoke of the Exodus from Egypt, the loss of so many Jews in the Holocaust and of her own family experiences. Some of her family came to the UK in the early part of the 20th century, running away from pogroms in Eastern Europe and finding a safe haven here. She emphasised the importance of reaching out to help others in distress. The overwhelming message from the three leaders was to share our blessings with others to make lives easier for them. We had some time to discuss the points raised by each speaker. I sat with a group from the Stanmore Mosque and we had very thought provoking discussions and hoped we would meet again soon.
Peter Lewy, Kol Chai and Angela Afzal, St Peters, wound up the meeting giving a project update, future plans and needs. Our members have given time and money to this project. However more money and time will be needed.