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Council news

Regular Covid testing to help children get back to school

1st March 2021
Older children will be expected to take regular Covid tests as part of new government measures to ensure pupils safely return to schools from 8 March.Students in secondary schools, who will see a phased return, will be tested initially in schools before using home tests every three to five days. These tests will be provided via schools. Children at primary schools will also have a phased return to school, but will not be tested. All school and nursery staff in the borough will be tested twice a week using home testing kits. As before, to ensure all children can continue learning and to protect others from coronavirus, households must self-isolate if their child receives a positive test result. While Hackney now has among the lowest coronavirus rates in the capital, additional Covid-secure measures such as mask-wearing in corridors and classrooms for secondary school students and primary and secondary staff will also be in place unless children are exempt. These are in addition to the safety measures that were in place during the autumn term, which includes comprehensive Covid-secure risk assessments to ensure that students can return safely to school. Hackney Council’s education and public health teams are also hosting a webinar (bit.ly/returntoschoolwebinar) on Wednesday 3 March at 5pm for parents who wish to find out more about the return to school, testing and the measures that have been in place to keep students safe. A recent survey suggested that parents are most worried about their children losing focus on studying while learning at home, with concerns about lack of contact with classmates and a loss of motivation their next highest worries. Schools will return to the full curriculum once students are back on site. In addition, schools will be planning how best to use the catch up funding and national tutoring funding to support students who need particular help over time.Arrangements to replace the summer examinations for older students were announced by the Government on Thursday. Schools will be putting in place robust procedures to fairly assess their pupils.For more information, visit: https://education.hackney.gov.uk/content/coronavirus-advice Parents should contact schools for school-specific information about the return. Parents are also being urged to take part in regular coronavirus testing at one of Hackney’s four rapid test sites. Adults without symptoms are being encouraged to get tested at least once a week, as data shows that 1 in 3 people with COVID-19 in London do not show symptoms and are risking spreading the virus in the community. Find out more about testing here or book a rapid test appointment.

Boost for young people as Kickstart scheme set to provide hundreds of work placements

28th February 2021
Hundreds of young people hit hard economically by the pandemic will be offered work placements over the coming months after Hackney Council was approved by the government to act as a ‘gateway’ organisation for the Kickstart scheme. Kickstart is helping to put 16 to 24 year olds on the first rung of their career ladder, with hundreds of placements on offer in Hackney industries including technology, fashion and the green economy. There will be 47 applicants employed by the Council directly. Funding will cover the relevant National Minimum Wage for 25 hours a week over six months, with the Council asking employers to top up wages to a minimum of £8.72 per hour. The Council’s Inclusive Economy strategy focuses on the creation of meaningful, quality paid employment opportunities for Hackney residents and school leavers, ensuring everyone can benefit from Hackney’s economic growth. The Kickstart Scheme offers six month work placements for 16-24 year olds who are currently out of work. To join this scheme you must be on Universal Credit or be willing to apply for Universal Credit. Those interested can complete this form to apply. 
Improvement work to start at ‘magnificent’ Abney Park
A £5m project to improve Abney Park, bring its chapel back into use and build a new cafe and classroom at its main entrance is set to start in March.The work, £4.4m of which is funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund and The National Lottery Community Fund, will also see a new accessible entrance created on Stoke Newington Church Street.Abney Park is one of London’s ‘Magnificent Seven’ Victorian cemeteries, opened in 1840 to alleviate overcrowding in existing burial grounds.It is the resting place of radicals, anti-slavery campaigners and dissenters, as well as local civilian victims of war and fallen soldiers. The new cafe and classroom will help open up this history to visitors and generate income towards ongoing maintenance and improvement of the park.As Abney Park is already a local haven for biodiversity, the new buildings will feature green roofs and walls, and new species-rich lawn and grassland meadow areas will be introduced as part of the works.This sits alongside the Council’s wider plans to plant 1,000 mature trees in parks by 2022, and 5,000 street trees and 30,000 saplings across the borough.To make way for the new cafe, classroom and accessible entrance, a number of small trees must be removed at the entrances as the first stage of work. The entrances may need to be closed for a short period while this work takes place.Work to construct the new buildings will then begin later this summer.The Council will contribute an additional £710,000 to the National Lottery funding, which will bring total investment to over £5m.Hackney Council owns and manages the site. The Abney Park Trust is a charitable volunteer-led organisation that helps to maintain and bring the park to life. It runs a website, provides grave searches and maintenance and runs talks, tours and events to increase use and engagement with the site.Abney Park is one of Hackney’s 58 green spaces. It is listed as a Grade II park on Historic England’s register of parks and gardens of historic interest. As one of the ‘Magnificent Seven’ cemeteries in London, it’s the resting place of around 200,000 people in 60,000 graves ranging from elaborate monuments to path-side common grave markers. It covers 12.5 hectares and is located between Stoke Newington Church Street and Stoke Newington High Street.Abney Park Chapel was designed by William Hosking and is the oldest surviving non-denominational chapel in Europe. It was completed in 1842 and functioned purely as a chapel for funerals – not a place of worship – with its non-denominational design meaning it could be used by anyone.Fire and vandalism gutted the Chapel, currently on Historic England’s ‘Heritage at Risk’ Register, in the 1980s, and the Council hoarded off the building in 2012 to protect the public until work to restore the structure of the building was completed in 2017. Work to restore the interior of the Chapel will include a new floor, new toilet facilities, electricity, lighting and new seating at balcony level. The new classroom and cafe will be located at the Stoke Newington High Street entrance, providing refreshment for park visitors, as well as interpretation of the site’s incredible history.To find out more about Abney Park, visit www.hackney.gov.uk/abney-park.Residents can also join a free online talk on Abney Park's ecology hosted by Russell Miller on 3 March. 
26th February 2021
Hackney is no place for anti-Semitism - Statement on Community Security Trust’s national report into anti-Semitism
Mayor of Hackney Philip Glanville, Cllr Susan Fajana-Thomas, Cabinet Member for Community Safety, Cllr Sade Etti, Hackney’s No Place for Hate Champion, and Neighbourhood Superintendent Andy Port respond to the Community Security Trust’s (CST) 2020 Anti-Semitism report.“As proud representatives of our welcoming, inclusive and diverse borough - where people from all walks of life live and work side-by-side - we recognise the importance of tackling racism and hate crime in everything that we do. We have been clear that Hackney - which is home to one of the largest Jewish communities in the country - is no place for anti-Semitism. “Whilst we welcome the decrease in national anti-Semitic incidents highlighted in the CST’s report, one incident of anti-Semitism is one too many, and we want to reassure our communities that we will continue to do everything we can to bring those commiting such crimes to justice, ensure that victims receive the support and help that they need and to tackle this scourge on our society.“Our official strategy for tackling hate crime outlines the steps we’re taking to make Hackney no place for hate. Since the Strategy’s launch in 2019, we have provided 100 Council staff and partners with hate crime awareness training in partnership with Stop Hate UK, held awareness stands with Council staff and police partners to encourage residents to share their ideas on how to tackle hate crime and produced a ‘no place for hate’ reporting leaflet for use by Council teams and community partners to promote reporting hate crime.“The Council and Police work closely together to review patterns of anti-Semitic incidents in order to target joint patrols and community reassurance work, which have led to the identification, arrest and conviction of people who’ve committed anti-Semitic hate crimes. This joint approach has led to the arrest of over 170 people for hate crimes in Hackney over the past year, including for abuse on public transport and the recent arrest of the person responsible for multiple offences of anti-Semitic graffiti on bus stops in Hackney. The Police, Council and neighbourhood watch group Shomrim worked closely together to quickly identify the person responsible for this abhorrent crime and to bring them to justice through a successful conviction at court. “Hate crime has a profound impact on the lives of those affected by it, and we work with Community Alliance to Combat Hate (CATCH) to ensure that victims of hate crime get the support that they need. We recognise that hate crime also has a significant impact on our communities as a whole, which is why we work all year round with our schools and community groups to tackle hate crime and extremist views in our borough. This includes supporting two Building a Stronger Britain Together-funded programmes, which have specifically addressed hate crime, including anti-Semitism, with local young people and their families. We also work closely with our partners and communities to tackle far-right extremism and other forms of radicalisation through the Prevent programme.“However, we recognise that more needs to be done. We will continue to work with all our partners and communities to combat hate, improve the way reporting operates and leave no stone unturned to bring offenders to justice. We are constantly in contact with our partners across all communities to bring about more confidence for victims to come forward and report hate crime.“If you’ve experienced or witnessed a hate crime, you may feel afraid to report it, or believe that there’s nothing you can do about it - but every report made will help us to bring those responsible to justice. No matter how small you think an incident is, please report it, and become part of the movement to make Hackney no place for hate.”If you’ve been affected by hate crime, you can:Report it to the police by calling 999 in an emergency, and 101 in other situations.If you’re deaf, hard of hearing or speech impaired, call the Police’s 999 textphone in emergencies on 18000. You can also text 999 if you’ve pre-registered for the Emergency SMS service on bit.ly/emergency-sms. In non-emergencies, call the textphone: 180001 101.If you do not wish to contact the Police, you can contact Stop Hate UK on 0800 138 1625 for free, confidential advice and support.Report offensive graffiti to the CouncilContact North London Victim Support for free local support on 0808 186 9291 (8am-8pm Monday to Friday) or 0808 1689 111 at all other times. You can also request support online.
24th February 2021