Author Archives: sarahchaffey19

East London fire: 125 firefighters on scene at tower block

A residential tower block in East London has caught fire, according to London Fire Brigade. There are over 100 firefighters at the scene, tackling fires on the 8th, 9th and 10th floors.

According to Pete Apps, the Deputy Editor of the journal Inside Housing, the ACM cladding used in this building is the same as that in Grenfell Tower, which caught fire in 2017, leading to 72 deaths.

Incidentally, the New Providence Wharf building has caught fire two days after Jonathan Sakula, a facades expert with three decades of experience, presented evidence on May 5th to the Grenfell Inquiry that the combustibility of building like Grenfell were well known to the contractors. You can view the full evidence here.

However, on the burning site right now, residents are still trying to reach safety, as you can see in the clip filmed by a neighbour helping another below.

Apsana Begum is the MP for Poplar and Limehouse and raised the issue of the dangerous cladding in the Polar tower block, including the building New Providence Wharf, to the Parliament earlier this year.

Featured image credit to Ben Sutherland.

Fun things to do in London this weekend

With at least one sunny day coming up this weekend, it’s time to go out and celebrate our new freedom from certain lockdown restrictions.

Whether you’re a fan of thrifting in vintage markets or are looking to find some of the most peaceful parks to escape into, our interactive map should be your go-to guide.

As of April 12, pub gardens, outdoor attractions and gyms are now open, and London has some of the best to offer. Here are some of the highlights…

Greenwich Market

Fancy a bite to eat? Greenwich Market has loads of tasty options: from pizza to sushi, everyone’s tastes are met. Check out what this TikTok user got up to…

@theresriceathome

FOLLOW IG: @theres_rice_at_home for the specific food reviews 💛 #foryou #foryoupage #fyp #food #london #greenwich #greenwichmarket

♬ Food – Densky9

Hyde Park

What’s better than chilling with friends in a park now that the rule of six is back? When there’s parakeets! Who knew these birds would eat straight out of your hand! Check out Ariane Hine’s TikTok below…

Check out our interactive map below

From outdoor swimming to drive-in cinemas, you won’t run out of things to do

Now you know what’s in store for this weekend, we want to hear what you’re most excited for. Let us know by voting in the poll below…

Featured image credit to Lucas Peng on Unsplash

Refugees’ rights are ‘under attack’ at Europe’s borders, warns UN

The UN’s refugee agency, UNHCR, has reported that migrants are facing violence from immigrations officials in Europe.

Despite being protected under refugee law, many are refused the right to settle or held in poor conditions while they claim asylum.

Just recently, the UK Home Office has been criticised for placing asylum seekers in ex-army barracks where they slept in cramped communal areas despite the risk of spreading Covid-19.

Back in January, 178 migrants tested positive for the virus at Napier barracks in Kent, according to the BBC.

But just across the Channel in France, conditions could be considered to be even worse. I was there back in February, when temperatures were below freezing and men were still sleeping outdoors.

Check out the news story below to see what it’s like to be camping in Calais.

Many of the migrants I spoke to were hoping to make it to London. They had heard about our world attractions, job opportunities and perhaps most importantly, our football clubs.

Their faces lit up at the thought of getting to live here. But the UK’s new asylum reforms will make that even more difficult. Check out our explainer on these new restrictions here.

Despite all the barriers they face, refugees at Europe’s borders remain hopeful and grateful to those who help them.

Operations Manager at Care4Calais, Imogen Hardman, can attest to that: “They’ve all escaped unimaginable trauma and journeys just to get here, but they are kind, they are generous and they’re funny.

Imogen moved to Calais from London to work on the frontlines of the refugee crisis. Click here to hear about her experience.

‘I moved from London to Calais to tackle the refugee crisis’

The ongoing refugee crisis has led to many people dedicating their time and resources to helping those in need.

Imogen Hardman did just that when she moved from London to Calais to become the new Operations Manager at the refugee charity Care4Calais.

She’s been there since October 2020 and works everyday to provide food and clothing to migrants camping in and around Calais.

“Living in London, knowing that just over the Channel there were people living in really horrible situations, being treated badly, it felt like a way to come over and show people that we do care.”

Imogen Harman, Operations Manager at Care4Calais

Check out the video below to hear more from Imogen:

Want to learn more about the global refugee situation?

Check out our explainer on the UK’s new asylum reforms.

Watch our video on what it’s like to be a refugee camping in Calais.

What will UK’s new asylum plan mean for London?

Home Secretary Priti Patel has just announced asylum reforms that will make it tougher for migrants to settle in the UK.

Immigration officers will now “make every effort to remove those who enter the UK legally having travelled through a safe country first”, Patel said in the Commons last week.

But for many migrants, travelling through “safe” European countries is the only way to reach the UK.

Take Eritrea for example. The small East African country has a totalitarian government, meaning there are no elections and no free press, says Help Refugees.

At 18 years old, citizens are forced to partake in military service to fight against Ethiopia in an extremely dangerous war.

These young Eritreans can’t just hop on a plane to avoid the conflict. Many aren’t even granted passports until they’ve completed their military duties.

So, they are forced to make ‘illegal’ journeys to the UK. Here, they are supposed to be protected by refugee law.

This basically suggests that migrants must be protected by other countries when they face persecution in their homeland.

Many flee to European countries like Germany and France for this protection.

Patel’s asylum reforms will make it harder for refugees who have crossed the Channel to be granted refugee status, because France is not a particularly dangerous country.

While it may seem like a “safe” country to you and me, the UNHCR has warned that French police are violent towards refugees and evict their camps every few days.

So, can we really blame them for wanting to come to the UK?

The capital, in particular, is popular amongst refugees. Immigrants are the backbone of our city, often taking on the low-paying and essential jobs that keep London running.

According to London First, 37% of Londoners were born outside the UK and 25% of NHS workers here are migrants.

So, it’s clear that London thrives on its diverse population. But where is everyone actually from and what made them want to move here?

This map, created using information from the 2011 Census has all the information you need.

If you want to find out even more, check out our interactive map. It includes statistics and the reasons why people emigrate from specific countries.

Interact with the map here

It’s unlikely London would look so diverse if these reforms had been brought in earlier.

It’s predicted that our new “points-based system” might favour the people with the highest skills, rather than those fleeing conflict.

Either way, London benefits massively from the diversity and skills brought by immigration. As our map shows, this city has been shaped by migrants and Patel’s new asylum reforms could put an end to that.

Want to find out more about the global refugee situation?

‘I moved from London to Calais to tackle the refugee crisis’: Listen to Imogen’s story here.

Watch our video on what it’s like to be a refugee camping in Calais.

Disclaimer: these statistics come from the latest census information that is available from 2011. Global events, such as the Arab Spring, have occurred since then and so demographics will have changed. The most recent census was carried out in March 2021 but the information is not available to the public yet.

‘Use this if you feel unsafe’: The TikTok trend protecting against sexual harassment

TikTok users have found an inventive way to warn off sexual predators by just playing one simple video.

The videos, tagged “Use this sound if you feel unsafe”, make it seem like you’re having a phone conversation with a friend or parent.

Often, they include phrases like “where are you? Oh that’s like 5 minutes away. I’ll start walking to meet you.”

Young women are playing these videos if they feel uncomfortable walking home at night or in a taxi. They pretend to engage in the conversation, making it seem like someone is expecting them.

The idea is that harassers will be put off if they know friends or family are close by, or if the person’s phone location services are switched on.

Amber May Hutton has started creating these videos since Londoner Sarah Everard was killed.

“I’d seen a few people doing it and I thought it’d be a good idea because a lot of my followers are young girls,” she said.

Check out one of her videos here:

@ambermayhutton

If you ever feel unsafe in a taxi feel free to save this and use it whenever you need💚 #fyp

♬ original sound – amber💕
Amber May Hutton calls herself “the big sister of TikTok.”

Amber hopes that videos like these can make her followers a little more confident when they’re out and about on their own:

“While I don’t think that the video would necessarily stop someone being sexually harassed, it might cause the attacker to second guess whether it’s worth the risk.”

Amber May Hutton, TikTok influencer

She wants to change the “oh well I’m a woman so I just have to take it” mentality. “Absolutely not”, she says, “I think we’re slowly steering away from that, but we still have a long way to go.”

She’s referring to an outpouring of support for Sarah Everard that has come since her death. Women have gathered in towns and cities across the UK for vigils and Reclaim the Night demonstrations.

Reclaim the Night started in Leeds back in 1977 after women were warned by the police not to stay out after dark. This was following the infamous ‘Yorkshire Ripper’ murders.

Why does Reclaim the Streets still need to operate, 44 years after it began? Violence and harassment against women is still a major part of our everyday lives.

According to UN Women UK, 97% of women in the UK between 18-24 years-old have been sexually harassed.

Clearly, something needs to change. This TikTok trend is just the most recent way of doing it.

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