Your Brent - Spring 2021

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Spring 2021 The magazine about life in Brent, published by Brent Council

Injecting hope Brent winning race between infections and injections: 1000s of residents now protected from COVID-19


1,000 new council homes to be built by 2024

PHONE A FRIEND Tackling loneliness and isolation one call at a time

BRENT MUSIC SERVICE Making music for you all year round

A pply early to vote by post

lections for the Mayor of London and the E London Assembly are being held on 6 May 2021 Voting by post is an easy and convenient way of voting if you do not want to vote in person at a polling station. If you want to vote by post in the May elections, download an application form at: When you have filled in and signed the form, please return it to: Electoral Services, Brent Civic Centre Engineers Way Wembley HA9 0FJ


The council must receive your application by 5pm on Tuesday 20 April 2021. If you are not able to print the application form, you can ask for one to be posted to you by contacting the council’s Electoral Services office. 020 8937 1372 o find out more about voting and elections T in Brent, visit




A round-up of the latest news in Brent


HAPPY FAMILIES The new Family Wellbeing Centres are now open and supporting families

GO GREEN, SAVE CASH Homeowners can get money towards energy improvements


FEEDING THE COMMUNITY Vanita and Hirji Kunvarji owners of Kingsbury Fruit & Veg Ltd, on the local community



INJECTION OF HOPE All you need to know about the COVID-19 vaccination


PHONE A FRIEND The mutual aid groups working to combat loneliness


LET THE MUSIC PLAY ON A round up of the year from Brent Music Service

SAFETY FIRST FOR HIGH STREETS Out and about with the Enforcement Officers




South Kilburn families on settling into their new homes


Brent Customer Services 020 8937 1234

YOUR BRENT is available in large print. Please call 020 8937 1234 Issue No. 167 SPRING 2021 Distribution queries and editorial:

MAKE IT COUNT What you need to know about Census 2021

FOREVER FAMILY A lockdown adoption story



Events and more



BUILDING JOBS The new regeneration programmes are providing jobs as well as homes


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Injections vs Infections In the March 2020 issue, COVID-19 received a small write-up in the news pages as we watched and waited to see what impact this new virus would have on our lives. A few weeks after that issue hit doorsteps, we were in our first full scale national lockdown. As we go to press, the country is starting to look forward to emerging from our third national lockdown. As plans are set out to restart the country, there is hope (page 18). The race between the vaccines and the virus continues and I am cautiously optimistic that there are better times ahead. By testing and vaccinating, we should be able to learn to live a more normal life as the virus will not simply disappear. More than 20 million people have been vaccinated against COVID so far in the UK with lifesaving antibodies now acting as a protective shield against the worst effects of the virus. I know that in Brent there is a thirst for knowledge about the vaccines. On page 20, we answer some of the most pressing questions attendees have asked in the series of webinars we organised with doctors and community leaders. More than 2,000 people dialled into those webinars and confidence is growing. I hope that these answers will help you to make the right decision for you and your family. Most of us have had to change the way we work, live and play in the past year. On page 24, we find out how Brent Music Service has adapted to the challenges that COVID-19 has presented. In Brent I’m proud to see so many mutual aid groups spring up to support those who need it. On page 22, you can read about the friendly phone calls many groups are running to help support those who are lonely. I, like you, am keen to get back to a more normal way of life. We will get there, but only if we support each other and follow the rules. So please do protect yourself and your loved ones by doing the right thing and following the current guidelines. Cllr Muhammed Butt Leader of Brent Council

Kilburn’s Kiln wins Theatre of the Year Award Kilburn’s Kiln Theatre has been recognised nationally as London Theatre of the Year by The Stage Awards, the highest profile theatre awards in the UK. This year’s winners were chosen for the achievements and impact in response to the pandemic in what has been one of the most challenging 12 months for the theatre industry. Kiln Theatre partnered with charity Food for All, to provide free meals once a week to local people in need, produced two online productions, launched its Young Writers Programme for young Brent residents who had never written for theatre before and continued their Minding the Gap project, supporting young people newly arrived in the UK to develop language skills and confidence through drama. Find out what’s on at the Kiln at

Indhu Rubasingham, Artistic Director at the Kiln Theatre

The Kiln Theatre in Kilburn High Road

Advice Line goes borough-wide The Brent Health Matters programme has already led to some great examples of acting on feedback from the community, including the launch of a health and wellbeing telephone advice line. Initially just for a part of the borough, the advice line is now available to all Brent residents with questions about their health or wellbeing. Operated by local NHS staff, the telephone line allows you to ask any non-clinical questions about health and social care. You will then be helped to access the right services. You can also receive advice on how

to better manage your health conditions. Call the Advice Line on 020 3114 7185, 10am to 3pm, Monday-Friday.

NEWS Steps to easing lockdown revealed COVID-19 restrictions are set to loosen slowly across England as part of a four stage process set out by the Government. From 8 March schools and colleges will be open for all children and young people to attend as part of step 1. Outdoor sports and leisure facilities will open from 29 March when meeting in a group of up to six people, or two households, outside will be allowed. No household mixing is permitted indoors during this stage. While this offers some hope for the

future, it is important that everyone continues to follow the rules. You should still stay at home unless you have a valid reason to leave. If you need to leave home, for example, to travel to a place of work, you should get tested regularly at one of the rapid test centres in the borough. The next review of the rules will be in April and when the Government is sure that it is safe, they will relax more restrictions. For the latest information and detail on the possible next steps, go to

> STEP ONE A (from MARCH 8 ) • Schools re-open, childcare allowed • Two people can meet socially outdoors

• One visitor to care home residents • Stay at home

> STEP ONE B (from MARCH 29 at the earliest) • Rule of six outdoors • Outdoor sports open • Work from home where possible

• Stay local • No overseas travel

> STEP TWO (from APRIL 12 at the earliest) • Non-essential retail, hairdressers, barbers, nail salons, gyms, zoos and theme parks can re-open • Pubs and restaurants can re-open

outdoors only • Wider social distancing rules continue • One household can stay at a holiday let

> STEP THREE (from MAY 17 at the earliest) • Two households can meet indoors • Hotels, cinemas, soft play areas re-open • 1,000 people or half-full capacity at

indoor sports venues. Outdoor venues 4,000 people or half full • International travel is possible

> STEP FOUR (from JUNE 21 at the earliest) • All legal limits on social contact dropped • Remaining hospitality open

The dates above are subject to change depending on how the loosening affects the transmission of COVID-19 and other factors that form part of the Government’s four tests.

• Restrictions on larger events lifted

June deadline for EU nationals application EU nationals wanting to continue to live and work in the UK have until June to apply for the EU Settlement scheme. It is free to register and more than 90,000 Brent residents have already applied. Cllr Muhammed Butt, Leader of Brent Council, said: “European citizens are a hugely important and valuable part of our society in Brent, so I want to encourage everyone who hasn’t applied for settled status yet to do so, so that you can continue to live and work here freely now that Brexit has happened.” To be eligible for the scheme, you must be an EU national living in the UK on or before 31 December 2020 and must apply to the scheme by 30 June 2021. Visit to find out more.

MBE for early years manager Sasi Srinivasan, who has worked at Brent Council for 17 years, was recognised for her services to children in the Queen’s New Years Honours with an MBE. “Being nominated and awarded the MBE came as a complete surprise and I am grateful and honoured, “ says Sasi. “I have been fortunate to have well-meaning and dedicated people around me and would like to take this opportunity to thank my wonderful team.”

Sasi Srinivasan MBE YOUR BRENT | SPRING 2021



Brent libraries tackles isolation with activities and book drops Fun activities to tackle isolation in older adults and encourage young people to improve their literacy are being run by Brent’s libraries. The libraries are building on their Home Library Service offer, with a befriending service, reaching out to vulnerable residents with regular phone call chats, as well as taking activities and reading materials into Brent care homes. Each council library has a collection of over 100 mood boosting and wellbeing books, and e-books available through the online library. For more information, visit uk/libraries.

Brent’s Home Library Service delivering books

See Moore of the heritage tiles

Extra areas of the heritage tile murals on Bobby Moore Bridge outside Wembley

Park station will be on show until March 28, as part of an annual display.


New high-quality South Kilburn A year on from one of London’s biggest ever residents’ ballots, it’s a joy to see families moving in and settling into their high quality new homes in South kilburn. Just before Christmas, 83 council tenants and households in temporary accommodation started to move in to



their new homes on the former site of Gloucester House and Durham Court, with 152 more joining them in the next few months. These new homes were voted for by 84% of local residents in the residents’ ballot, giving local people the final say on the future of their neighbourhoods.

NEWS Modern homes rise out of the dust A derelict warehouse has transformed into stateof-the-art homes for Brent residents with the help of a grant from the council’s empty property team. Narayan Mews in Willesden now boasts 13 new houses with top quality facilities and furnishings, which will soon be home to local people who otherwise would be homeless and seeking temporary accommodation. All the properties have underfloor heating and feature modern conveniences such as dishwashers and microwaves. One house has also been adapted to accommodate a tenant with a hearing impairment. The council also financed the installation of a video entry system, a personal alarm, a fire alarm with a vibrating alert and a flashing light d oorbell to enable the tenant to be safe in their home and live independently.

New resident Velma opens her new front door

The street outside the world famous Swaminarayan Temple in Neasden has been named Pramukh Swami Road. A section of the road has been renamed to honour the creator of the temple, His Holiness Pramukh Swami Maharaj. The decision to change the road name was approved by Brent’s Cabinet as the council acknowledged the temple’s position as an international landmark in the borough. Girish Patel, a volunteer at the Mandir, said, “This Mandir is a gift from Pramukh Swami Maharaj bequeathed not only to the people of this community, but for people across the UK and the world. He blessed and inspired countless lives during his many visits to the Mandir, and we pray that the lasting legacy of the Mandir and the renaming of the road will continue to inspire generations to come.”

homes for residents We all need somewhere we can call home – this has never been more true than it is right now, as families across the borough have been struggling with the coronavirus crisis. It has been a very challenging year for everyone, but we have continued to build more council homes for

families who need them now more than ever. I am very proud that Brent is leading the way by building more council homes. We are on track to exceed our ambitious target of 1,000 new council homes by 2024. So far, we have moved 64 households out of temporary accommodation into permanent homes, and 58 council tenants have been moved into new

homes due to overcrowding, under occupation or medical reasons. There is much more to do if we are to make housing universally affordable, readily available; and of the highest possible standard – but for now, I am happy for residents moving into their brand new secure and stable homes. By Cllr Eleanor Southwood, Cabinet Member for Housing and Welfare Reform YOUR BRENT | SPRING 2021


NEWS Over 50,000 tests taken as part of Brent’s community testing drive

Windrush pioneer celebrates his 100th year Mr Rev Norman Watson Mitchell MBE turned 100 last December. Born in Clarendon, Jamaica in 1920, Norman Mitchell headed to the UK in 1955 to help rebuild the United Kingdom after the Second World War. Norman has lived in Harlesden, a place that he says reminded him of Jamaica, for the past 60 years and is well known for his community work. In November 1980, Norman set up WISCO the ‘West Indian Senior Citizens Organisation’ to help support his fellow Windrush generation. This ran for 40 years, initially from his living room then a local church hall providing keep fit, crafts, outings and concerts. Norman has received awards from Brent Council and Prince Charles presented him with an MBE for his services to the community in 2014.

Community Grants programme launched The Brent Health Matters Programme includes a Community Grants Fund that is now open to submissions. Grants are available to individuals and organisations in the borough that can demonstrate innovative ideas and solutions that will reduce the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 in the short term, and more broadly tackle health inequality issues in the longer term. An individual can bid for up to £1,000, with a higher threshold of £2,000, whereas an organisation can look to secure up to £15,000, with a higher threshold of £25,000 - the latter requiring the bidder to demonstrate how they will deliver significant impact in a single or multiple wards. To find out more, including how to apply, go to



1 in 3 people who have COVID-19 show no symptoms but could be sharing the virus with loved ones and around the community without knowing. That’s why Brent has opened a number of rapid testing sites across the borough, offering free tests for those without symptoms to help find these unknown cases and stop the spread of the virus. Community testing is finding, on average, over 200 positive cases a week from people showing no symptoms at all – highlighting how important it is that people get tested, even if they feel fine. If you can’t work from home, get tested twice a week. It’s quick, painless and you’ll get your result back within 40 minutes. To book, visit If you have symptoms, find out more about getting tested at

Council budget agreed With the impact of COVID-19 costing the council an estimated £44m and with more than £174m lost from the council’s budget over the last decade, the challenge of balancing the budget has never been greater. Cllr Margaret McLennan, Deputy Leader for Brent Council, said: “The services we provide make a massive difference to peoples’ lives, whether it’s collecting people’s bins or looking after a vulnerable resident in care – if we can help, we will in our residents’ time of need. “This budget will allow us to respond to whatever the pandemic throws at us – and support our recovery plans for better times ahead.” The COVID-19 estimated cost of £44m is the combination of additional expenditure incurred due to the pandemic and the loss of income that the council had planned to receive to fund services. To view the final budget for 2021/22, please visit


Community champions want to help make Brent healthier A borough-wide network of community champions is to be developed to tackle health inequalities in Brent. The Brent Health Matters programme aims to address health inequalities – which are avoidable, unfair and systematic differences in health between different people. Community Champions are local volunteers who are passionate about the health and wellbeing of their community and those around them. They are positive role models who raise awareness and share key information to give something back to their community. Anish Gohil from Alperton said: “I see this role as an opportunity to connect with as many people as possible.” To find out more and how you could become a Community Champion contact brenthealthmatters@ Anyone interested would receive access to online training opportunities, have discretionary expenses covered and become part of a network with your neighbours, local businesses, local groups, the council and health services.

Hetal Petal, Alperton Health and Wellbeing Champion

Anish Gohil, Alperton Health and Wellbeing Champion

Support for deaf communities reinforced with sign language pledges The British Sign Language (BSL) Charter, which aims to improve rights and access to services for deaf people who use sign language, has been signed by senior leaders from Brent Council The charter includes five pledges to overcome the disadvantages that deaf people face. Asif Iqbal MBE (right), President of the Harrow & Brent United Deaf Club, said: “Brent Council has demonstrated a good example in committing to the charter by providing deaf awareness training and British Sign Language courses to staff

and accessible information, including BSL video with subtitles, inviting deaf residents to take part of the council’s equality consultation.” Face coverings With face masks here to stay for some time now, we all need to be mindful of the barrier they can create for communicating with deaf people, who may rely on lip reading. Consider using a face mask with a clear panel or writing things down when you communicate with people from the deaf community.



NEWS More than £40,000 raised for Mayor’s chosen charities

BEWARE DROPPED KERB SCAM Individuals claiming to work for the council are approaching residents offering to install dropped kerbs, while planned footway maintenance work is taking place nearby.

The Mayor of Brent, Cllr Ernest Ezeajughi, has so far raised more than £40,000 for his chosen charities, the Sickle Cell Society and the Jason Roberts Foundation. The Sickle Cell Society is the only national charity in the UK that supports and represents people affected by a sickle cell disorder to improve their overall quality of life. The Mayor’s second charity, The Jason Roberts Foundation, has been supporting young people in Brent for more than 10 years, helping them to celebrate diversity and promote respect across the UK. There’s still time to support this amazing work before the Mayor’s year in office comes to an end in May. To make a donation to either one of the Mayor’s charities, visit the Mayor’s Charities webpage on the Brent Council website.

More trees to be planted in Brent this spring Planting is underway across Brent this spring. 120 saplings are going into the ground in areas which currently have fewer trees and where air pollution is high. Cllr Krupa Sheth, Lead Member for Environment, said: “Trees are a really important part of what we call our ‘green infrastructure’ in Brent. They boost people’s wellbeing, support our birds and insects, and, although they won’t solve the problem of air pollution, they can help absorb some of the nasties in our local air.” Brent Council looks after 43,000 trees across the borough. These latest additions are part of the council’s annual tree planting programme and support the work the council is doing to combat the climate and ecological emergency. Sign up to the newly launched Brent Environmental Network to get green updates, tips and resources to help you live a greener lifestyle straight to your inbox each month at



HOLOCAUST MEMORIAL DAY COMMEMORATED Every year Brent Council marks Holocaust and Genocide Memorial Day. This year, to remember the victims of the Holocaust, Nazi persecution and subsequent genocides, Brent Council put together a short film. Head over to our You Tube channel, ‘Brent Council London’ to watch it.


Laptops help Stonebridge children access home learning Brent Council and contractor, Higgins Partnerships have joined forces to deliver computer equipment to primary schools in the Stonebridge area. Stonebridge and Our Lady of Lourdes primary schools have received a selection of tablets and laptops to help pupils with home schooling during the coronavirus pandemic.

A Crown Court judge has ordered a landlord to pay back £739,263 in illicit earnings made from overcrowded properties in Willesden. The enormous order, thought to be the largest for a planning breach so far this year, was made against Mohammed Mehdi Ali of High Road Willesden, following a prosecution brought by Brent Council’s legal team.

REFOCUSSED 2021 BOROUGH PLAN LAUNCHED Cabinet members have agreed a refocussed plan for the borough following the global events of 2020. The plan sets out five priorities to improve the lives of those who live work, study and do business in the borough. Brent aims to reduce inequalities, particularly for black people, as well as strengthen the economy, tackle the climate emergency and build on its positive work with partners. Digital inclusion, celebrating local culture and building Brent’s network of community hubs are also included in the borough plan’s priorities.


Happy families The new and improved Family Wellbeing Centres are now open and supporting families. Sarah Whyte found out what help is on offer The mural at Preston Park

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Young people helped paint the artwork

HAPPY & HEALTHY FAMILY WELLBEING CENTRE MURALS In the autumn issue of YourBrent magazine we asked for young people to come forward to help paint some of the Family Wellbeing Centres. Thanks to everyone who got involved. This is how the Preston Park mural is currently looking. The council is planning to finish the rest of the Family Wellbeing Centre murals when it’s possible to do so.


lthough the Family Wellbeing Centres are mainly operating online, there are still lots of services available for families. Brenda lives with her son Adam, 14, and daughter Shona, aged 2. The Family Wellbeing Centre was able to support Adam with a new phone, donated by a charity, which helped him access his psychotherapy. This helped Adam to continue to receive the support he needs and reduced his anxiety. While face-to-face sessions are not possible at the moment, Brenda and her daughter Shona can access virtual sessions through the Family Wellbeing Centre. These online sessions help keep Shona entertained and meet new people. They also help give Brenda and Shona structure to their week. The Family Wellbeing Centres provide help and support to families with children under the age of 18 (25 for those with SEND) in one place. Cllr Mili Patel, Cabinet Member for Children’s Safeguarding, Early Help and Social Care, said: “Despite the current lockdown restrictions, our Family Wellbeing Centres are already supporting local families in a variety of different ways online. If you need help there is a wide range of services you can assess from the comfort of your home.” To find out more about what is on offer and to register, go to

‘If you need help there is a wide range of services you can assess from the comfort of your home.’

The murals will be seen

YOUR BRENT | bySPRING 2021 13 thousands of visitors


Go green, Homeowners can now apply for £5,000 towards new loft insulation, double-glazing and other planet-protecting, money-saving measures

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save cash M

ore than 40% of the borough’s carbon emissions come from our homes. That’s because they’re huge energy hogs, with everything from heating to powering appliances racking up gas and electric bills. Brent residents are paying out more money every month as a result of poor insulation, draughty windows and outdated heating controls. But by addressing these problems, households could save up to £600 a year on energy bills. Under the nationwide Green Homes Grant scheme, homeowners and

landlords can apply for vouchers towards energy efficient and low-carbon heating improvements, like electric heat pumps. Successful applicants could get up to two-thirds of the cost back in vouchers, with a maximum of £5,000 available. Extra help is available for people on low incomes or receiving certain benefits. If eligible, you can apply for a grant covering all works, up to £10,000. “Improving the energy efficiency of our homes is one of the biggest things we can do to help cut our carbon footprint,” says Cllr Krupa Sheth, Cabinet Member for Environment. “As with lots of

environmental choices, the great news is that by installing these measures you can also save money off your monthly bills.” TAKE CLIMATE ACTION The consultation on Brent’s Climate Emergency Strategy may have closed for comments, but there are plenty more ways to get involved and take climate action locally. Visit climateemergency for green inspiration, information and support. The final Strategy is due for publication in in the next few months.



1. See if you are eligible for a voucher at 2. Check what improvements may be suitable for your home 3. Choose the improvements you would like and an estimate of the cost 4. Find registered installers to get quotes to carry out the work at It’s important to make sure your installer is TrustMark registered. 5. Apply at

If you are keen to explore how solar panels could help make your home more environmentally friendly and cheaper to run, Solar Together, a group-buying scheme backed by the Mayor of London, is currently open for applications.




Kingsbury Fruit & Veg imports its food form Kenya and India

Hirji Kunvarji ,owner of Kingsbury Fruit & Veg Ltd

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FEEDING THE COMMUNITY Vanita and Hirji Kunvarji own Kingsbury Fruit & Veg Ltd, a shop that specialises in supplying wide varieties of exotic ingredients to the area. They talked to Jessica Alves about feeling at home in the community









e’ve been in business in Kingsbury for 26 years and it’s great, I love it,” says Vanita. “It started when my husband was growing up back home in India. He lived on a farm. Then when he came to this country, his first job was in a greengrocer, so that got him the experience of this kind of business. His knowledge and passion pushed us to open our own. Now my children are involved too, which is nice.” “We’ve made relationships with a lot of great people and charities. We’ve been here for so long, that many customers have become our friends, and all our staff are really nice and friendly. They’ve been working for us for years, so we’re like one big family. It’s very fun and there’s a really positive vibe here.” “Kingsbury is full of Asian people, and other communities who like exotic fruits and vegetables that you can’t find in regular shops. We import our foods from our suppliers in India and Kenya, or if it’s locally grown then we get it from the markets. We source a lot of traditional varieties of Indian vegetables too, so it tastes just like home. Quality and freshness are the main attractions here.” “I’ve lived in Kingsbury for the past 35 years. My children went to school here, I’m close to my friends and family, plus everything is so local and handy. I don’t know why I’d be anywhere else. Kingsbury is my life now.” YOUR BRENT | SPRING 2021



Injection of hope Most of us will never have seen a mass vaccination programme like this in our lives. We find out what you need to know and answer some common questions


he rollout of the NHS COVID vaccination programme is on track in Brent, with more than 100, 000 of the lifesaving jabs delivered by the end of February 2021. Across the UK, 20 million people have received the vaccination by the end of February. So far, the vaccine has been given to

Kingsbury Temple

Wembley vaccination centre

Wembley vaccination centre

Brent’s highest priority residents: people living in care homes, frontline health and care workers, people aged 70 and over and people who are clinically extremely vulnerable. Thank you to all the hard working doctors, health workers, support staff and volunteers who are making us safer and saving lives every day.

NHS GUIDANCE The NHS will get in touch with you directly when it’s your turn to be vaccinated. In the meantime, it’s vitally important that we all continue to follow the public health guidance: • wash your hands regularly

Wembley vaccination centre

Kingsbury Temple

• wear a face covering indoors • stay 2 metres (3 steps) away from anyone you don’t live with • stay at home wherever you can.

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Find out more about the NHS vaccination programme at

Wembley vaccination centre

Kingsbury Temple

Willesden Centre Kingsbury Temple

A LARGE NHS VACCINATION CENTRE opened in Wembley Park in January. Frontline health and care workers were among the first patients to receive their vaccinations. The site is capable of delivering thousands of the life-saving jabs every week.

SHREE SWAMINARAYAN Mandir in Kingsbury became the UK’s first Hindu temple to become a vaccination centre in London. Members of the Mandir community are also volunteering to provide healthcare staff with additional admin and logistics support.

HUNDREDS OF VOLUNTEERS across the borough are helping to deliver the NHS vaccination programme, the biggest in the health service’s history, at GP-led and hospital services including Willesden Centre for Health & Care. YOUR BRENT | SPRING 2021




COVID-19 Vaccine

Medical consultant with expertise in vaccines, Dr John Licorish, part of Brent’s Public Health team, answers your questions about the COVID vaccine IS THE VACCINE SAFE? Yes, the vaccination is safe for everyone and is our best way out of this pandemic. The NHS only offers vaccinations to the public once independent experts – who have nothing to do with the government, by the way - have signed it off as being safe. Over 10 million doses of vaccines have been given in the UK and there have been no major safety concerns.

HAS IT BEEN POSSIBLE FOR THE VACCINE TO BE DEVELOPED SO QUICKLY? There are three main reasons. One, while this coronavirus is a new virus, work was already underway to produce vaccines against the coronaviruses which cause SARS and MERS – two other highly contagious and deadly viruses. Two, there has been an unprecedented level of cooperation between academics and the pharmaceutical industry around the world. Thirdly, a huge financial investment by governments around the world, including the UK.

HOW EFFECTIVE IS THE VACCINE? After having both doses of the vaccine, most people will be protected against coronavirus. It takes a few weeks after

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getting the second dose for it to work. So it’s important to still continue social distancing and following the guidelines to keep us all safe.

IS THE VACCINE AS EFFECTIVE FOR BLACK, ASIAN AND OTHER MINORITY ETHNIC GROUPS? Yes, it works the same way – and has the same effectiveness – among all ethnic groups.

THERE ARE NEGATIVE RUMOURS ONLINE ABOUT THE VACCINE. HOW DO I KNOW WHO TO BELIEVE? Firstly, I want to say that it’s ok, in fact it’s good, to want to know more. Unfortunately, there is a lot of misinformation online, on Facebook and on WhatsApp about the vaccine. If you have questions please speak to a trusted source of information, such as your GP, or visit

CAN MUSLIMS HAVE THE VACCINE UNDER ISLAMIC LAW? Yes, after discussion with experts, the British Islamic Medical Association encourages individuals to take the COVID vaccine as advised by their GP.

DOES THE VACCINE INCLUDE PORK, GELATINE OR OTHER ANIMAL PRODUCTS? No, there is no material of animal origin in either vaccine. All ingredients are published in healthcare information on the MHRA’s website.

CAN I CHOOSE WHICH VACCINE I GET? There are currently two vaccines being used in the UK: The Oxford/ AstraZenica vaccine and Pfizer/ BioNTech vaccine. Both require two doses and offer a high level of protection. Because the vaccine is being delivered in phases to make sure those most at risk are vaccinated first, it’s not possible to choose which one you get.

CAN I WAIT AND SEE, AND HAVE MY VACCINATION LATER? You can. However my strong advice to you, if you are offered the vaccine, is attend your appointment. Every day individuals from our communities are getting very unwell and in some cases dying. So, to protect yourself and others, there really isn’t much time to wait.


Dr John Licorish: the vaccine is safe for use by all members of the community



Yes, attending doesn’t mean that you have to accept the vaccine. It gives you a chance to learn more, to talk through any concerns you might have, and then make your own decision.

The initial phase of the vaccination programme is prioritising those most vulnerable to the virus. However, although younger people have a lower risk of serious illness, they can still spread the virus. So we must all continue to follow the guidance to control the virus and save lives.

ARE THERE ANY SIDE EFFECTS? Most side effects, such as a sore arm, feeling tired or a headache are mild and shouldn’t last longer than a week. It’s very rare for anyone to have a serious reaction to the vaccine. All staff giving the vaccine are trained to deal with and treat any reactions straight away.

WHO CAN I SPEAK TO FOR MORE INFORMATION? If you have any questions about the vaccination programme, please speak to a trusted source of information – the NHS or your GP.

CAN I GET THE VACCINE PRIVATELY? No, the COVID vaccine is only available through the NHS. Remember, the vaccine is free of charge. The NHS will never ask you for your bank account, card details, PIN or banking password. They will never arrive unannounced at your home. And the NHS will never ask you to prove your identity by sending copies of personal documents such as your passport, driving licence, bills or pay slips. Please look after yourself, look after your families, and look after each other. And my advice to you, if you are offered it, is to take that vaccine.




Phone a friend The pandemic has been hard, especially for some people who live alone, but a team of mutual aid group volunteers has been working hard to combat loneliness among their neighbours


ensal Green mutual aid group member, Polly Green leads the Friendly Phone Calls initiative that offers regular calls and practical support to people who were feeling lonely. “We’ve had a great response,” says Polly. “In the summer, when the restrictions were relaxed, some people met up for face to face chats or walks. We also know that people have developed some really special friendships that go beyond one phone call a week.” Dione Southby and Judy Ruback, from Mapesbury Mutual Aid Group, have started a friendly phone call project to connect residents who are feeling isolated with volunteers in the community. They ask both residents and volunteers about their hobbies or interests and this helps when pairing people together. Dione says: “While volunteering at the Mutual Aid food bank in Willesden, where residents come to collect their food parcels, it became evident that some people were feeling lonely and cut off from the rest of the world. “These calls are beneficial for both residents and volunteers. For some residents this is a lifeline and they look forward to their regular calls to be able to have some contact with the outside world.” If you would like to get involved and speak to someone on a regular basis, you can find a list of the Brent Mutual Aid groups online. Go to Ashford Place in Cricklewood is also offer befriending services to local residents. You can find out more at

Judy Ruback: connecting with isolated residents on the phone




Polly Green leads the Friendly Phone Calls Initiative

For a full list of mental health support, go online to: You can get focused support by phone, video call or online treatments by visiting the Talking Therapies website: https://talkingtherapies.cnwl.nhs. uk/brent/refer-yourself-brent For urgent mental health support, you can also access the following services 24 hours a day, seven days a week: • Samaritans – call 116 123 • SHOUT – text 85258 YOUR BRENT | SPRING 2021


Let the music PLAY ON It’s been nearly a year since the first national lockdown changed life as we know it. Caroline Morris, Head of the Brent Music Service, updates us on what they’ve been up to


n March 2020, we barely knew what Zoom was. In just two weeks, our dedicated teachers created two online resources for the 2,000+ instrument and vocal students and the 9,000+ primary school children we teach each week. That summer term we taught over 5,000 online lessons. “We were so pleased to get back into schools and see our pupils again last September. Although we had to make some changes to ensure that teaching was safe. Normally we sing in all primary school lessons and share drums and ukuleles but this wasn’t possible. B&Q Cricklewood came to our rescue by donating 1,650 buckets to use as drums and this was great fun for both staff and pupils. “We were so proud last term to facilitate creating the Brent Anthem “Sparks Fly” with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, composer James Redwood and a group of 15 young Brent

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musicians. “Sparks Fly” will be performed by thousands of school children over the next two years, culminating with a performance in Brent Makes Music at Wembley Arena in 2022. “In winter we had our only live performance of the year as some of our brass players brought some much needed festive cheer to the Designer Outlet in Wembley. “This year all teaching is online again and we have been busy ensuring there are opportunities for all young musicians in lockdown. Please follow us on social media or check online to see what’s available – “I am proud that music has been playing on to contribute positively to the lives of so many Brent children. I thank all our partner schools and organisations for their hard work and support throughout the past year. Without them, none of this would have been possible.”


Brent Music School rehearsing Shivani Rattan, Music’sCool teacher, using B&Q buckets as drums




Safety first for high streets Regulatory COVID-19 Support Officers and Enforcement Officers have been out and about on Brent high streets speaking to shoppers and business owners to make sure the COVID-19 rules are being followed and shoppers are safe

Brent enforcement officers on the high street

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he teams’ typical day will involve visiting various business premises, ranging from small independents to large superstores. Although the council has no powers to fine individuals for not wearing face coverings, this is by far the most common breach that the officers advise on. In January 2021, the team issued large fines to a barbers that was caught blatantly breaking the national lockdown rules, which requires all non-essential personal care facilities such as hairdressers and beauty salons to close. The barber had blacked out his windows but was secretly cutting people’s hair inside with no facemasks or social distancing. Hefty fines were also issued to a local shisha bar that was illegally open and serving customers inside. Cllr Promise Knight. Cabinet Member for Community Safety and Engagement, said: “The majority of Brent shops have respected the rules and followed them and I’m grateful to them for doing so. “Unfortunately, a small minority believe that they are above the rules. With so many people ill and dying in Brent, this is a selfish act and we will continue to enforce where necessary to protect our local communities. “There is support available for businesses who need it, so please get in contact and let us know how we can help.”



Brent enforcement officers: working with local businesses

Brent enforcement officers: making sure shoppers and shopkeepers are sdafe

Since November the teams have:  Checked over 20,000 businesses  Investigated over 300 COVID-19 related complaints  Asked 88 businesses to close  Issued 16 formal notices to businesses open in breach of the rules




A moving experience A year on from one of London’s biggest ever residents’ ballots, we spoke to some South Kilburn families to see how they are settling into their new homes


was living in one-bed temporary accommodation for eight years with my son,” said Karolina Jurex, who moved in January 2020. “He is now sevenyears old and is autistic. When the council offered me my new home, I was shocked and couldn’t believe it. I cried for a week. We moved in a few months ago. It’s brilliant! Our home is beautiful, clean and warm. It’s a dream house and I love it. My son has his own room and is very happy.” Shaban Sindy also moved in January. He said: “I was living in a two-bedrooom temporary accommodation flat for almost 10 years. I live with my

wife and two kids who are seven years and five years old. We have been living out of boxes for years with the hope to move somewhere more settled. “When we were offered our new council home, we were so happy. Our prayers were answered. It is still like a dream. “The kids are very happy, they have their room and they can put their things away. They didn’t have to move school and be disrupted, I’m so grateful. “South Kilburn has been my home for a long time. I have friends here, it’s my community.”

RESIDENTS’ BALLOT The council held a residents’ ballot in South Kilburn in autumn 2019 to ask the community whether they still supported the award-winning regeneration of the estate. Local residents overwhelmingly backed the council’s plans to continue rebuilding the neighbourhood with 84% voting yes and 72% of eligible residents taking part in the vote.

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Mr and Mrs Sindy watching TV

Miss Jurex and son on balcony




Make it count The census takes place once every 10 years and gives an accurate picture of all the households in England and Wales. Here is why it is important and what you need to know WHAT IS THE CENSUS? The census is a survey that takes place every 10 years and helps show what our society needs now and in the future. The information it collects helps with decisions

on planning and funding services in your local area, for example schools, doctors’ surgeries, emergency services or even local support groups.

WHEN IS IT? Census Day is 21 March, and this will be mostly digital. Each household will receive a letter with a unique access code, so you can complete the questionnaire on your computer, phone or tablet. Support will be available, including guidance in different languages and formats, and you can ask for a paper version if you’d prefer. For a few weeks after Census Day, Census Officers will be visiting households who haven’t yet completed the census. They will encourage people to complete the census and help you to get help if you need it. The Census Officers will never need to enter your house and they will always wear Personal Protective

Equipment (PPE) and work in line with national COVID-19 guidance. Your personal information is protected by law and won’t ever be provided to any other companies or government departments. Records will be locked away for 100 years and kept safe for future generations. Cllr Promise Knight, Cabinet Member for Community Safety and Engagement, said: “Complete the census and help us make sure we can put funding in the places its needed most, so that services you rely on – from doctor’s surgeries to housing – can continue to support you in the future.”

For support or information, visit or email:

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YOUR SHOUT “I’m completing the census because it helps in making future decisions”. TALAL AL-ANASI, AHLULBAIT CENTRE Talal Al-Anasi

“The information given in the census has the power to make a real impact on our everyday lives.” ANNIE KENDALL, STEPS TO SUCCESS

Annie Kendall, Steps to Success

“I’m completing the census because it shows what my community needs now and in the future.” Rhoda Ibrahim, Founder and CEO, SAAFI





Forever family While most of us were staying indoors, a small group of key workers from the council’s social care team were planning the safe adoption of a Brent fostered baby


bandoned by his mum soon after birth, baby Thomas lived with a foster family until he was 18 months old as the adoption team looked for a loving forever family for him. With increased COVID-19 restrictions across the country came a new set of rules to follow, including virtual calls and doorstep visits, as both the carers and future parents tried to make this a smooth move for Thomas. After both families self-isolated for two weeks, they met face-to-face to complete the adoption. Baby Thomas’s mum came, too, to see her little one begin his new life. It was an emotional day for the foster carers who had to say goodbye to Thomas; it was an exciting new beginning for the adopters, and a day of peace for the mother who saw her baby in good and loving arms.

COULD YOU FOSTER AND HELP A CHILD LIKE THOMAS? The pandemic has hit the most vulnerable families the hardest and lots of people are struggling with poverty, unemployment, social and health inequalities or domestic violence. As a result, we expect to see more children and young people needing safe homes, and fewer adults coming forward to apply for fostering in the future. If you would like to foster and

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support children in Brent get in touch with us to find out more on 0800 001 4041 or visit brent. As a foster carer you should love children, have a drive to help others and be nurturing, patientç and kind. You need to be over 21, have permission to stay in the UK indefinitely, and live in a home where there is space for a child.

Solar Together

Register for free before 23 March at A bright idea: buying solar panels a made easy! Are you considering solar panels and battery storage but aren’t sure where to start? Solar Together London is here to help you get high-quality solar panels and battery storage at a competitive price through the power of group-buying. To find out more about our hassle-free approach, and to register your interest before 23 March visit our website today.


Arts &

>> Theatre >> Music >> Dance >> Comedy >> Exhibitions >> Cinema >> Talks >> Tours


MARCH TO MAY LEARN TO BAKE WITH A BREAD AHEAD ONLINE COURSE This has got to be one of the best things to do in London during Covid. Bread Ahead has launched an e-learning portal with plenty of courses designed to whip your baking skills into shape. Whether you like sweets or savouries, they have more than a dozen different online workbooks and live classes available. Ferment the perfect sourdough, craft a cracking babka, fill delicious doughnuts, or whip up some New York bagels. https://www.breadahead. com/elearning Wembley Park

MARCH TO MAY TAKE PART IN AN ONLINE ART WORKSHOP Laxmi Hussain, a drawing and watercolour specialist whose art exists is the abstract and the realistic. As part of her desire to share her passion with the world, Laxmi hosts online workshops to help you explore your creative side. With life drawing classes and selfappreciation art workshops, you’ll find artist flare in no time. Online



Go to www.eventbrite. From £13.50

sculpture – as you enrich your mind and stretch your legs. Local walk

MARCH TO MAY GET YOUR DAILY EXERCISE ALONG THE WEMBLEY PARK ART TRAIL Of course, exercise and fresh air are essential for your immune system and mental wellbeing, and we all look forward to getting outdoors for an hour each day during lockdown. Why not combine your hour of outdoor exercise with a stroll through the Wembley Park Art Trail? Admire 15 different pieces of art from artists all over the world – street art, digital art, and

centred. MoreYoga Wembley Park is now offering a full roster of online classes for just £9.99 per month. Not only can you join in on their streaming classes, but you can also access their library of more than 2,500 past classes. Online

MARCH TO MAY Free wembley-park-art-trail/

MARCH TO MAY TAKE AN ONLINE YOGA CLASS WITH MOREYOGA Just because we are staying at home doesn’t mean we can’t stay fit, active, and

JOIN A PUB QUIZ – OR HOST YOUR OWN Sure, we all miss going to the pub – but you can bring at least one aspect of the pub to your home by joining or hosting a quiz. Round up a team and join one of hundreds of online quizzes taking place every night of the week via Zoom or Facebook. Or, you can always organise your friends and family and run your own quiz – ask everyone to write one round! Online


MARCH TO MAY WORK OUT WITH REY Feeling a little lacklustre when it comes to exercise and working out? Let Rey from BeSmartGetFit reignite your motivation with his free series of at-home workouts you can get involved with. With inspiration on how to make your very own home gym with no equipment and how to work out with objects around you, you’ll fall back in love with exercise in no time. You can access the videos. videos Wembley Park


UNDER 5S STORY AND RHYME TIME Join us for 20 minutes of story and rhyme times for under 5s featuring all your favourite stories and nursery rhymes! Lots of fun, laughs and learning for you and your little one, all from the comfort of home. 11am-11.20am Online book via uk/libraries


CELEBRATE ST PATRICK’S DAY WITH IRISH BESTSELLER CARMEL HARRINGTON Join Irish bestseller Carmel Harrington in a fun and interactive conversation

about her latest novel, My Pear-Shaped Life, a heartwarming, uplifting story about missteps, second chances and self-belief. Carmel will read a short passage from her novel and there will be a live Q&A. The audience is also invited to share their St. Patrick’s Day experiences through the years, both in Ireland and overseas. 11am- 12noon Online book via uk/libraries



PORTSMOUTH V SALFORD CITY The EFL has today confirmed that a unique action-packed ‘Wembley Weekender’ of football will take place in March for the 2020 and 2021 Papa John’s Trophy Finals.

THE LOST PORTRAIT OF MARY SEACOLE AND ITS FORGOTTEN ARTIST In this illustrated talk author Dr Helen Rappaport explains how she discovered the now iconic portrait of Mary Seacole that hangs in the National Portrait Gallery in 2002, how she authenticated it with the help of experts at the National Portrait Gallery and uncovered the life of its unknown artist, Albert Charles Challen. 11am-12noon Online book via uk/libraries



EXPLORE THE BRENT BIENNIAL FROM HOME You can still enjoy all the incredible artworks as part of the Brent Biennial from the comfort of your own home with Brent 2020’s programme of online talks, screenings and events. Learn more about Wembley Park’s very own THESE DAYS by Dan Mitchell, explore audio projects by John Rogers, Avant-Gardening and Yasmin Nicholas or enjoy online photography by Jude Wacks, Electronic Sheep and Lucy Fine. You can find all the listing. Online whats-happening/ programmes/brentbiennial/

ENGLAND V SAN MARINO England will face San Marino at Wembley as part of the European Qualifiers for the FIFA World Cup 2022. The Three Lions have played the principality, situated in northern Italy, on six occasions over the years. Wembley Stadium

WEDNESDAY 31 MARCH ENGLAND V POLAND England will face Poland at Wembley as part of the European Qualifiers for the FIFA World Cup 2022. Poland have been England’s group rivals in World Cup qualifying on six occasions over the years, most recently for the 2014 competition in Brazil as well as for the 2006, 1998, 1994, 1990 and 1974 editions, with some memorable clashes taking place during that time. Wembley Stadium

SATURDAY 10 APRIL NAIRA MARLEY SSE Arena Marlian Fest The SSE Arena, Wembley




Keneza Scarlett started on site in December

The Chippenham Gardens development in South Kilburn

Nancy Roache met the team as part of a Women into Construction mentoring programme

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BUILDING JOBS New building projects across Brent are providing residents with high quality new homes and career opportunities


ancy Roache, who lives in South Kilburn, is looking to make her next career move in the construction industry. She recently met the Higgins team working on the Chippenham Gardens redevelopment project as part of a Women Into Construction mentoring programme. “It was so good to see the people involved, in person,” Nancy said after she was taken around the site. “It changed my perception of a construction work force. I feel welcome and less concerned about working in construction now. Such encouragement for us women.” Keneza Scarlett, 27, has always lived in Brent where she is also proud to be raising her daughter. Last year, she applied for a site admin and liaison apprenticeship through Brent Works. After a successful interview, Keneza started on site in December at the Hillside and Milton Avenue Project in Stonebridge with Higgins Partnerships. Keneza said: “Initially, I was a bit worried and nervous about the role, and being a woman in construction, but everyone has been extremely friendly and supportive. “I’ve gained skills in multitasking, communication, time management, and organisation to manage my apprenticeship and workload. The team is very helpful and 100 percent supportive of my development.”


Once completed, the Chippenham Gardens redevelopment project will deliver 52 new homes that are due to be finished by the end of next year. This will include 22 affordable homes for existing South Kilburn council tenants, and a landscaped public square.


The Hillside development is due to be finished by August 2022, and will house 51 one, two and three bedroom apartments across two blocks of up to seven storeys high, with a roof terrace on both blocks. The Milton Avenue site will feature a terrace of 22 four bedroom, and three storey townhouses.







Call 999 for the Police, Fire Brigade or Ambulance services.

Call 101 to report a crime that is not an emergency. Call 111 if you have a medical problem that is not an emergency.

ACCESS SERVICES ONLINE Pay for council tax online Make a claim for housing benefit Apply for a parking permit

OTHER LOCAL SERVICES Find your local GP using the NHS search tool LocationSearch/4 If you want to help someone sleeping rough, go to If you are worried about domestic abuse call Advance Brent on 07398 454898 Monday to Friday 10am to 6pm or email If you are concerned about a child call Brent Family Front Door on: 020 8937 4300


COUNCIL MEETINGS 24 Mar - Community and Wellbeing Scrutiny Committee 6 Apr - Cabinet 14 Apr - Resources and Public Realm Scrutiny Committee 29 Apr - Community and Wellbeing Scrutiny Committee 10 May - Resources and Public Realm Scrutiny Committee 19 May – Annual Council Meeting For more council meetings and the latest information go to http://democracy.brent.

Bin collection times and recycling waste


Community grants and funding

Garden waste service

Financial support

Pest control treatment coronavirusfinancialsupport


We are


as usual




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