‘Youth services are a right for every young person – the government must recognise this’

By Seema Chandwani | Twitter @SeemaChandwani

This month will mark 17 years since my first paid youth work job. It has been the most rewarding thing in my life and I am blessed to have worked doing something I love and enjoy.

For the past three years I’ve been privileged enough to work on the Positive Youth News Haringeyproject. My friends are amazed at what the young people achieve in the borough and think I am one of the luckiest people in the world to do what I do.

But, the PYN Haringey project has never proclaimed to have assisted in the achievements of young people in Haringey, we merely capture Haringey young people’s successes and ensure the wider community is aware and celebrates what they have done.

The hard work was done by them and in many cases in Haringey, by youth workers and centres across the borough.

Continue reading


How the ‘Battle of Wood Green’ prevented fascism fouling our borough

By Seema Chandwani | Twitter @SeemaChandwani

The other week I went for a drink in this great cafe in The Mall Wood Green.

It has fantastic views from the bridge which enables you to see across the high road. As I waited for my sister – she’s never on time – I looked out and saw an elderly Asian woman in a bright colourful Sari walking along the pavement. Her carrier bag handle snapped, leaving an amazing exotic mix of mangos, okra and coconuts spread all over the pavement.

A middle-aged Jewish man ran over to help, holding his Yarmulke in place as he bent over to pick up some of her produce. He was joined by an African man in a flamboyant Dashikis, who rescued the few mangoes that rolled a bit further down. They both returned the goods to the woman, who by this stage, had been joined by a young English lady who was emptying one of her own carrier bags, putting the contents into her pram to supply to the lady with something new to carry her shopping.

Continue reading

Long-term solutions are needed for policing in our community

By Seema Chandwani | Twitter @SeemaChandwani

I was too young to understand the tensions surrounding the death of Cynthia Jarrett which led to the Broadwater Farm riots, but a generation later I was a teenager during the death of Joy Gardner, and this negatively influenced my view of policing.

As time moves on, the next generation in Tottenham encountered the death of Roger Sylvester, and now the current youths have the death of Mark Duggan to refer to. All of these incidents have undermined confidence in policing for many in our area over the decades.

The solutions that have been called upon to solve this issue centre around ‘building’ or ‘repairing’ relations between ‘the community’ and ‘the police’. For me this seems bizarre. Continue reading

13 years after his death, Bernie Grant’s legacy still inspires Tottenham

When I was growing up I used to spend a lot of time in my dad’s office. It was an intriguing place with mannequins, fabrics, sewing machines and walls covered with pages from fashion magazines, sometimes of celebrities wearing his designs.

There was one wall, however, which was totally out of place. From memory it featured an eclectic mix of items including a postcard speech of Martin Luther King, a yellow ‘Free Nelson Mandela’ badge, an anti-Nazi League leaflet and a newspaper clipping of Bernie Grant.

I recognised ‘Mr Grant’, as the Tottenham Labour party office was only up the road and he was often around the neighbourhood, popping in to say hi. He didn’t seem famous, he didn’t have bodyguards and at the age of seven I could not understand why he was in the newspapers: who was he? Continue reading

Why I am proud to call Tottenham ‘home’

By Seema Chandwani | Twitter @SeemaChandwani

There is that odd moment, when I’m at a dinner party and people ask me where I live.

As the word ‘Tottenham’ exits my mouth strange things happen, from looks of sympathy to a discreet check to see if their wallet is still in their pocket!

As I approach my 30th year of living in Tottenham, I often get asked why I don’t move, like it is an expectation and those who do live here do so because they don’t have any other choice.

Like many people in Tottenham I can afford to move but choose not to. My choice is to stay.

The lenses on my glasses are not tinted in a shade of rose; after working for almost 16 years with young people, especially those who face intense need, the social issues facing Tottenham are plain to see.

The media, and to some extent politicians who reel off statistics illustrating society breakdown in our area remind us constantly.

However, despite all the attention we get, there is little mention of the uniqueness Tottenham possesses, a place where you can get on the bus and see it full of people from more 40 different parts of the world, some who decorate your eye with their vibrant array of traditional clothes that paints an image of genuine human unity rarely seen in any other part of the world.

Continue reading

Tory tax on the poor – coming to a council near you

Once upon a time, there were 20 people living in King Tory‘s Mansion, 10 of whom were assessed as ‘unable’ to pay for their Council Tax for various reasons ranging from old age, disabilities, mental illness or lowly paid. The total amount of Council Tax for all 20 people was £2,000, or £100 per a person. The 10 that could pay, did directly and the 10 that could not had their Council Tax paid for byKing Tory, totalling £1,000.

One day King Tory says to the 10 who can’t pay: “We are only going to pay £900 towards your Council Tax”, or a 10% cut. The 10 would need to find £10 each to top up the amount needed for Council Tax.

Continue reading