Toxic air, Covid, Ramadan, rehoming cats and Islamophobia

People living and working on busy streets are more vulnerable to respiratory disease and premature d

People living and working on busy streets are more vulnerable to respiratory disease and premature death from traffic pollution - Credit: PA

We must do more to cut the amount of toxic air

Jeremy Drew, Islington Green Party, writes:

Whilst there has been progress recently, the toxic air remains a major problem in London. 

A recent study from Imperial College found that in 2019, 90-100 people died in Islington because of the impact of toxic air caused by human activity.

Air pollution is a particular problem for children, especially those with asthma. Young children are particularly vulnerable to the effects of air pollution because it can stunt their lung growth. 

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Air pollution is also problem for older people, for whom it can exacerbate heart and lung problems, worsen dementia, and may have increased deaths linked to Covid-19.

Motorised vehicles cause around half of the air pollution which is a particular problem in Inner London.

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In Islington, many areas are frequently subject to NO2 concentrations above the level set by regulation in 2010 (40 µg/m3).

Last week, Living Streets held its annual Walking Summit and concluded that far more needs to be done to reduce air pollution and that enabling walking with safer crossings, low traffic neighbourhoods and slower speeds are inclusive ways to achieve this aim.

Already the current Ultra Low Emissions Zone (ULEZ) requires pre Euro 4 petrol cars and pre Euro 6 diesel cars to pay a charge to drive in a zone bound by the Inner Ring Road. 

The extension to the North Circular Road in October will help further clean up our air. But given that many older people live in the outer suburbs, it should be extended to include outer London.

We should also reassess the way we allocate road space, prioritising public transport and walking and cycling. 

This means there should be no new roads, such the Silvertown tunnel, and we need a smart fair road pricing scheme based on mileage and engine emissions to discourage use of larger vehicles and reduce overall miles driven.

By following such an approach, life can be made more healthy and pleasant for the majority of Londoners, especially in Islington where traffic is so heavy, despite few people owning cars.

On right track but stick to the rules

Professor Kevin Fenton, London regional director, Public Health England, writes:

This week we have had the chance to see family and friends again outdoors in a group of six, or two households.

The careful lifting of these restrictions has been possible thanks to the efforts of all Londoners in sticking to the rules up to now, helping bring infection rates down across the capital.

But although we have made significant progress, the pandemic is far from over and the situation remains delicate. The return to normal life needs to be taken step by step and we can only move to the next stage if we make a success of the last.

It therefore remains vital we do not get complacent and continue limiting transmission over the Easter holidays and beyond. That means sticking to the Rule of Six and avoiding the temptation to meet others in larger groups or indoor settings, as well as remembering the basics of Hands, Face, Space and Fresh Air.

We are on the right track for a return to normality but we must all help ensure the next step we take is forwards, not back.

Diabetes advice during Ramadan

Roz Rosenblatt, London head, Diabetes UK, writes:

We would like to offer people in the Muslim community who live with diabetes help and advice to stay healthy during Ramadan – especially in the continuing Covid-19 pandemic.

We know Qur’an requires Muslims to fast during the month of Ramadan from sunrise to sunset. There are exceptions and people who are unwell or have medical conditions are not required to fast – and this includes people with diabetes.

Some people with diabetes may still choose to fast. Those who choose to fast are advised to include more slowly absorbed foods (low GI), such as basmati rice and dhal, along with fruit and vegetables in their meal at the end of each day’s fast. People should also check their blood sugar levels more often than usual.

It’s also worth noting that if you are observing Ramadan and have decided to fast, receiving the coronavirus vaccine does not break your fast. So, please get the vaccine if you are invited to book an appointment. 

We advise people that if they are unwell or have any symptoms of Covid-19 they should not fast and call 111 for further advice.
People can find further advice on our website,

Pioneering year for our charity

The Cat Protection League are asking cat owners to keep unneutered cats indoors

Cat Protection have rehoused 20,000 cats through their Hands Free Homing scheme - Credit: PA

James Yeates, CEO, Cats Protection, writes:

At Cats Protection we have much to be grateful for.

This year has challenged us like never before but we have come through with greater focus and a renewed commitment to improving the welfare of cats and supporting better cat ownership.

As we mark the anniversary of the first lockdown measures, we want to learn from our shared successes and experiences and acknowledge what we have achieved together.

One year ago we launched Hands-Free Homing, a pioneering online adoption process that has become the new normal. Prospective owners pick a pet from our website and, after a chat with our adoption team, the cat is delivered to its new home. 

This programme has been a triumph, allowing us to successfully match more than 20,000 cats with their forever homes to provide much-needed companionship. Additionally, the number of cats returned by their new owner has gone down by a third.

We do not underestimate this incredible achievement and the dedication of everyone involved in helping us reach this milestone.

It is just one example of how our team of colleagues, volunteers and supporters have risen to every challenge and proven how we can progress by embracing change. Thanks to their hard work, cats in need continue to receive our support, even in these most trying times.

I would like to thank everyone at Cats Protection who has contributed to our response to extraordinary circumstances and who continues to be part of our outstanding team.

Racism is still a blight on society

Cllr Khaled Noor, chair, Muslim Professionals Forum (MPF), writes:

The MPF is pleased by some of the evidence the Commission has collected in the report from the Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities in the UK – for example, the data showing that young BAME people are, on average, doing well at school.

But we are very concerned that they have not given due weight to the incidents of racism – and Islamophobia – which minority groups experience on an everyday basis.

The MPF has recently started working with partners in the legal profession on identifying Islamophobia in the legal profession and judicial system. It is important that the Commission’s Report does not dampen the enthusiasm to do this kind of work.

Muslim professionals can do a great deal to ensure that young Muslim professionals are supported in the workplace and that management practices do not discriminate against BAME and/or Muslim staff. 
We would be pleased to hear from and to assist anyone who has concerns about Islamophobia in the workplace.

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