01:00PM, Thursday 13 June 2019
The security of faith centres and the role of community wardens in helping the homeless were among the topics discussed at a community focus group meeting yesterday (Wednesday).
One Borough, a council-run group which met at Maidenhead Synagogue in Ray Park Road, heard from Saghir Ahmed of the Islamic Trust (Maidenhead), that Maidenhead Mosque is ‘very concerned’ following recent incidents around the world such as the mosque shootings in Christchurch, New Zealand.
Mr Ahmed said there is ‘no sort of issues locally’ but that security at the mosque, in Holmanleaze, has been reviewed. Volunteers stood guard throughout the month of Ramadan, which ended on June 4.
Mr Ahmed said members ‘don’t want to put up six foot high fences all around the building and gates’ because it is ‘still one of the most open mosques in the country’.
The mosque has CCTV and is alarmed but Mr Ahmed said that is more of a deterrent than anything.
He added: “Somebody who’s determined, we can’t really protect ourselves from that.
“We want to continue as it is, obviously, but we are still so mindful of what is going on and we will try to strike a balance and move forward hopefully.”
After the Christchurch attack Mr Ahmed said he was ‘hoping for somebody from the police to contact us’.
He said: “That really raised the concern. I was getting calls from people who are working within the council saying ‘what is happening? Why haven’t the police contacted you?’”
Mr Ahmed said that patrols were later increased.
He said: “On Fridays, when people are there, somebody walking round and just saying ‘hello’, ‘hi’ is so reassuring encouraging and is all you need really.
Touching on locations of mosques in the Royal Borough, Saghir said there has been opposition to building mosque in Windsor.
Mr Ahmed said: “There were issues, people were either petitioning against it or they weren’t happy with having a centre in the community.”
He added: “Generally people are very nice, you meet people and all is very well but when they get an opportunity to criticise something they will go out of their way to criticise it.
“So if we put in an application in to say, extend the mosque, or do something with it, everybody will just wake up.”
Mr Ahmed said ‘there is still this sort of phobia’ but that the people using the mosque ‘are your neighbours, they’re living in your community, they’re your local people you know’.
“All they’re going to be doing is going there, bowing and praying” he said.
Mr Ahmed described how people are ‘quite pleasantly surprised’ when they come to the mosque on open day.
“It’s just another place of worship like any other place of worship.”
He added: “Unfortunately, you have people within all communities who are not treading the right path, but I think collectively if we work together we can deal with those issues.”
Also at the meeting, community warden Andy Aldridge told the meeting about a problem-solving team which has been tasked with tackling low-level anti-social behaviour and helping the homeless.
As part of this work, the community wardens bought into the national initiative Making Every Adult Matter (MEAM), which has now been running for about six months.
Members of the MEAM team work with statutory and non-statutory agencies.
Mr Aldridge said: “MEAM is about a wrap-around support.
“It’s not just about housing a person, it’s about getting off the street into
accommodation and actually giving them the time.”
He also spoke about the councils ‘support-before-enforce approach’.
He said: “If we’ve covered every support mechanism we can, we’ve got no option but to use positive enforcement, so we will use things like criminal protection
If the notices are continually breached, the case will go to court and if there is a conviction a Criminal Behaviour Order (CBO) would be issued.
This would force the individual to engage with the relevant mental health and drug and alcohol services and if they did not, they could face a prison sentence.
The next One Borough meeting will be held on Wednesday, September 11, at a venue to be confirmed.
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