“21 For 21” Awards launched jointly by the Church Times, British Muslim TV, and Jewish News, together with Coexist House, chose 21 young leaders — 7 Jews, 7 Christians & 7 Muslims – to receive awards at Lambeth Palace, for their inspirational and exceptionally outstanding inter faith work.

In his opening comments, the Award Presenter Alastair Stewart OBE of ITV News said, “Our daily bread contains news of conflicts between different faiths from around the globe. We forget these conflicts are conducted by the minority of people for the benefit of the minority of people. Majorities across all backgrounds just want to get on with their lives. Cooperation between faiths therefore is a key prospect of the 21st century.”

From among more than a 100 strong nominations received from across the country, it is a great honour that our colleague Mohammad Ryad Khodabocus, won the 21 for 21 Award for his innovative and hands-on inter faith work in Luton.

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Ryad is exceptionally gifted with imagination, creativity and intrapreneurship. Born in the Paradise Island of Mauritius, Ryad has been living and working in Luton (UK) for the past 10 years, with LUTON COUNCIL OF FAITHS, in partnership with GRASSROOTS, a Christian ecumenical programme of community engagement in Luton.

Besides holding a Masters in Psychology and Management, Ryad has become a specialist in the fields of Spirituality, Diversity, Relationships, Personal Development, Psychology and Communication. He is also a

· Sport Coach specializing in Archery

· a consultant and coach in Human Energy Performance Management, licenced with HeartMath Institute

· and the author of his upcoming book ‘Unleash Your Peace Genius’.

He has pioneered many projects in the area of Community Development, Inter-Faith and Inter-Cultural work, with focus on environment and ecology, ethical & fair trade, sports and health, high quality youth leadership programme for 16-25, religious education linking with science and contemporary context.

He delivers well researched training and talks, seminars around diversity and leadership. He brings a wealth of knowledge dealing with human complexity and nature looking through the eyes of science and spirituality and contextual community development work. He is passionate about Emotional Intelligence, NLP, neuroscience, HeartMath and Peace Development.

We congratulate Ryad for this well-deserved recognition and hope he will continue to aspire and inspire for a better world that we are all striving for.

From the GRASSROOTS Staff Team

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AuthorGrassroots Luton

In this years Annual General Meeting of Churches Together in Luton, Mr Tanvir Munir, General Secretary & Mr. Haji Mohammed Shafait, President of the Luton’s Central Mosque, accompanied by an Imam and 2 Muslim women leaders, said, “Following terror attacks in New Zealand & Sri Lanka, it is important for us to share our solidarity with one another. We are here to share the pain of our Christian brothers and sisters.”

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President Mr Shafait, addressing Mgr Kevin McGinnell, Parish Priest at Holy Ghost Catholic Church, said, “I live on this street, so we are neighbours. It is our duty that we share our joys and sorrows together.” Mr Michael Singleton, Chair, Churches Together in Luton, appreciating the kind gesture of Muslim friends and neighbours, said it reminds him of the greatest commandments of all in The Bible, which talks of loving our neighbor as ourselves. May we continue to put our faith into action in this way!

Later Major Ralph Walker, Officer in charge of Luton Salvation Army Church, spoke passionately about their work, to help those who are vulnerable, homeless and in debt. He said Salvation Army is the largest social care and service provider after the government agencies and works in close partnership with Luton Food Bank, NOAH Enterprise, Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) and Luton Casino Chaplaincy.

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It was very humbling to hear of his experiences and motivation how despite being hugely under resourced and despite having been physically attacked and wounded, Major Ralph Walker continues to serve God in serving the humanity God created in His own image.

The Annual General Meeting of Churches Together in Luton concluded with reports and news shared and election of the officers.

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AuthorGrassroots Luton

In the recent months, it has been very challenging as extremism and hate ideologies have resulted in terror attacks on the worshipers at two Mosques in New Zealand, then on Church worshipers in Sri Lanka. We were yet to recover from these attacks and there’s been yet another attack, this time on a synagogue in San Diego, California.

Any attack on a place of worship is attack on all. This is a reminder of the need to condemn extremist violence in the strongest terms and to continue to work together with even greater urgency against ignorance, prejudice and hatred.

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Hatred targeting any community because of its faith and belief is a scourge that mustn’t be and cannot be tolerated.

As Luton Council of Faiths, we extend our condolences to the affected families and individuals. At such a time of tribulation, one can feel weak, vulnerable and fall in despair. Our message to our Jewish friends is that YOU ARE NOT ALONE. We stand together with you in sharing our collective shock, grief and pain following such a hate filled anti-Semitic crime.

Together, we must strengthen our resolve to continue working together for peace and unity in our world.

In solidarity with the Jewish communities in Luton, Bedfordshire and beyond.

LUTON COUNCIL OF FAITHS

You can download this statement here.

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AuthorGrassroots Luton

Ahead of the month of Ramadan (Muslim month of fasting), you are being encouraged to kindly consider buying for yourself or buy as an ethical gift for someone the Fairtrade Zaytoun Medjoul Dates.

Zaytoun Medjoul dates are sourced from sun-drenched Palestinian farms around the ancient city of Jericho. When you choose Zaytoun Medjoul dates, you help Palestinian farmers and their families to make a sustainable living and to grow trade opportunities.

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Medjoul dates, often called the ‘fruits of paradise’, because of their plump size and rich caramel succulence, are high in fibre, potassium and natural sugar. It is a nutritious way to break your fast and they also make a delicious ethical gift for friends and family.

Available in the boxes of

  • 800g @ £10.00

  • 5kg @ £48.00

  • Or 5kg @ £45.00 (if buying 2 or more)

Place your order by contacting GRASSROOTS:

  • VISIT: 47 High Town Road, Luton, LU2 0BW

  • CALL: 01582 416946 or CALL/TEXT: 07897203939

  • EMAIL: admingrassroots@btconnect.com

First come first served. FREE Delivery available on request.

PLEASE circulate this to your networks too - you can download a poster here!

(Ramadan Kareem)

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AuthorGrassroots Luton

In our world scarred by war, violence, extremism and hatred, Good Friday brings a time of reflection for Christians to remember the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross and Easter brings hope for a new and renewed life.

In the ‘Good Friday Walk of Witness’ different Churches Together groups in Luton carried a cross and walked from one church to the other, offering prayers for all.

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In a walk led by Bury Park Beech Hill Council of Churches, Karen Campbell, church related community worker, recited her own poem titled “was it worth it?”.

She encouraged that the love Jesus showed on the cross must turn our reflections into actions in enabling life and hope to flow in abundance for everyone.

On Easter Day Jesus rose again and it marked the end of his journey on earth: now we must continue our journey of challenging injustices and touching lives, with a self-giving love, just as Jesus did.

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AuthorGrassroots Luton

It has been such a privilege for the Luton Fairtrade Steering Group to have had the opportunity to work with and alongside Sue Bentley as one of our many enthusiastic and leading members. Now Sue is moving on in life, leaving life in Harpenden to settle up north in Scotland. 

A Fairtrade Gift Hamper was presented to Sue Bentley in the presence of Alex Mayer, MEP (Member of European Parliament), at a recent Fairtrade School Assembly which was co-led by Sue, Ryad Khodabocus and Sr Maire Hayes, during this year's Fairtrade Fortnight at St Margaret of Scotland Primary School, Luton.

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It was an honour for us that Sue has since been to drop into the GRASSROOTS office for a chat and to handover a bag-full of Fairtrade Footballs and a lovely THANK YOU CARD!

For and on behalf of us all, we send our best wishes to Sue and her family for their future plans and are sure we all unanimously agree on this statement of fact that - WE WILL MISS HER BADLY.

THANK YOU Sue, for being part of us all and THANK YOU for bringing in your contributions, your energy, your passion to serve and promote the cause of Fairtrade in and around Luton. It has been a joy working with you. Stay blessed, healthy and active as ever!

For and on behalf of the Luton Fairtrade Steering Group, GRASSROOTS & Luton Council of Faiths

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AuthorGrassroots Luton

With deep shock and sorrow on this Easter Sunday, Luton’s faith communities, Luton Council and Bedfordshire Police have unanimously expressed their solidarity with the churches and the people of Sri Lanka following the news of the bombings of churches and hotels on Easter Sunday. Over 200 dead, including British Citizens, and many more injured have been claimed, as the news keeps unfolding.

Zafar Khan (Chair, Luton Council of Faiths) said, “We are deeply saddened at this heartbreaking incident. While we still await information regarding the perpetrators and their motives, we strongly condemn this barbaric and inhuman act of terrorism against Sri Lankan people. Our heartfelt condolences go to all those who have lost their loved ones in this outrageously criminal and cowardly act.”

On behalf of the Luton Council of Mosques & the Luton Sunni Council of Mosques, Rehana Faisal said, “We extend our condolences to all, and particularly to our Christian friends who will undoubtedly be feeling a pronounced sense of loss and sadness. We stand united with all in grief and in resistance to hate and violence. It is particularly abhorrent that these attacks were carried out on a day, which holds so much significance to Christians. We utterly reject all ideologies of hatred and division.”

Expressing his sadness and utter outrage, Bedfordshire Police Force Executive Chief Constable Jon Boutcher QPM Mst (Cantab) said, “Our condolences go out to the victims and their families of these callous and evil attacks. We have zero tolerance for those that espouse hatred in whatever form and however subtly people might advance it. The ultimate consequences of those that promote division and hatred is being seen all too often in its most horrific form. Our differences are our strengths.”

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Mayor of Luton, Cllr Naseem Ayub, said: "We are devastated to hear of this tragedy. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the innocent victims of this senseless and heinous attack. This is an attack on humanity, and all communities in Luton will continue to stand united against all forms of violence. We strongly condemn these appalling cowardly acts of hatred and division.”

Luton Council will be opening a book of condolences at Luton Town Hall as from Tuesday where the public can express their grief and support. A vigil will be being held outside Luton Town Hall on Wednesday 24th April 2019 at 12:30pm. Members of the public are all invited to join to offer our heartfelt prayers for the victims and condolences to all those who have lost loved ones in these appalling acts of violence.

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AuthorGrassroots Luton

The Parish of Luton, St Anne with St Christopher is seeking a Parish Administrator/Book Keeper!

This role will be located at the Parish Office, Felix Avenue, Luton, LU2 7LE

Details:

  • 9 hours per week (flexible, within core working hours)

  • £9 per hour

  • Holiday pro rata based on a 40-hour week

  • Sick pay will be in line with statutory guidelines

Essentials for this post include good spoken English, the ability to work independently in a tidy and efficient manner, a variety of administrative tasks including creating and printing Orders of Service and posters, to meet deadlines and to manage hall bookings, invoicing and databases

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To request an application form and pack email officestannechris@gmail.com!

For more information telephone 07795324046

Deadline for applications is at 12 noon on Friday 24th May 2019. Interviews will take place on Friday 7th June 2019.

This is a permanent post subject to a successful 3-month probationary period. This post is also subject to an enhanced DBS clearance.

You can download this information here.

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AuthorGrassroots Luton

Cyclone Idai has swept through Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Malawi, leaving behind a trail of destruction and tragic loss of life. 2.5 million people now need help.

A secondary emergency is already being faced, with cholera and malaria outbreaks already occurring due to stagnant water, poor sanitation, overcrowded conditions in communal shelters, and limited access to clean water.

Disease is already breaking out making the plight even more urgent

Disease is already breaking out making the plight even more urgent

It’s personal for me. I lived and worked in Beira (Mozambique) for 3 years from 2000 to 2003. I flew out just after the last major floods in 2000, when thousands of people faced death and sickness, displacement and total devastation. Now the same is happening all over again.

Kim Greig, from the GRASSROOTS team, working in Beira (Mozambique) from 2000-2003

Kim Greig, from the GRASSROOTS team, working in Beira (Mozambique) from 2000-2003

I worked across the central province of Sofala as a VSO (Voluntary Services Overseas) volunteer running a resource centre and teaching training programme. I have friends that I love that have lost their roofs, walls and complete homes, and are now facing an immediate lack of basic needs and need long term help.

Can you help me and my fellow friends of Beira raise money to help them rebuild their homes and their lives?

Thank you for any support you can give. You are also kindly encouraged to circulate the poster (DOWNLOAD HERE) to your friends, family, colleagues, congregations etc, or even print one off and put it on display. You could also download some social media images (see below) to post online too, as even one extra donation could be the difference between life and death.

In Hope and Solidarity,

Kim Greig - in partnership with the GRASSROOTS PROGRAMME


HOW TO DONATE:

  • DONATE ONLINE:

    Donate online via Just Giving at http://bit.ly/cycloneidai2019

  • BACS TRANSFER:

    BACS transfers can be made via the Cooperative Bank (Account Number: 65797798 / Sort Code: 08-92-99). Please add a reference stating ‘IDAI’

  • CHEQUES:

    Please make cheques payable to 'GRASSROOTS PROGRAMME' and post to Kim Greig, c/o GRASSROOTS, 47 High Town Road, Luton, Bedfordshire, LU2 0BW, United Kingdom. Please add a reference stating ‘IDAI’


SOCIAL MEDIA DOWNLOADS:

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AuthorGrassroots Luton

Karen Campbell, a United Reformed Church (URC) Related Community Worker (CRCW) at GRASSROOTS, reflects on the tragic and violent loss of teenagers due to knife crime.

Karen’s poem (that follows) is a response to a Huffington Post article that lays bare harsh statistics which shows across London ‘the victims, and perpetrators [of knife crime], are mainly poor, and they are disproportionately black.’

For years, the families of murdered teenagers have appealed for more to be done to tackle the violence, and gang grooming, but to no avail.

In the year to March 2018, knife killings in England and Wales rose by 34% to a 72-year high.

Karen asks:

HOW MANY MORE?

One more for the statistics; One more laboured sigh;

One more half-hearted pause; One more half-hearted 'Why?'

One more young life is wasted - Countless futures torn apart;

One more fam'ly shattered; One more mother's broken heart.

One more damning indictment; Against the problem boys;

And their broken problem families, With their deaf'ning social noise.

One more time to count our blessings, Say 'Thank God, that isn't me!'

And 'Why, in heaven's name, won't they contain their savagery?'

One more time to turn our face away; One more issue to let slide;

As long as trouble doesn't knock my door, So many truths denied.

Some see the colour of the problem - Those who rage and those now dead;

But the colour of the problem, Is the blood which spatters red.

So, where’s the power, the resources, Or the will to foster change?

For the blinkered and the privileged, Such questions wax quite strange.

So just one more for the statistics; One more blood-soaked urban day;

One more tragedy unregistered, As one more child slips away.

© Karen Campbell, March 2019

In January 2018, Baroness Doreen Lawrence, mother of Stephen Lawrence who was stabbed to death in a racist attack in 1993, predicted that if more victims were white, only then would knife crime be taken more seriously.

The Revd Dr Michael Jagessar, URC Secretary for Global and Intercultural Ministries, says: ‘Following the tragic, violent, and senseless deaths of two teenagers – Jodie Chesney on 1 March, in Havering, and Yousef Ghaleb Makkie, on 2 March, in Greater Manchester – there are now high-profile calls for a knife tsar, increased policing, a petition for a Royal Commission to improve and protect policing, and Savid Javid MP, the Home Secretary, to make plans with police chiefs from the parts of the UK most affected by knife crime.

‘This is the response needed for these tragic situations, yet it leaves many wondering why this suggested action was not taken before?

‘All of these young lives matter. I pray that the response needed to tackle the violence is appropriate, addresses the systemic issues and is far-reaching so that no more lives will be lost in this senseless way.’

This article is reproduced from a United Reformed Church Article which can be found at https://urc.org.uk/latest-news/3001-how-many-more-a-response-to-knife-crime

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AuthorGrassroots Luton

Over 300 people across different faiths and cultures, alongside representatives from Luton Borough Council, Bedfordshire Police, and local and regional media, joined together at short notice for a Peace Vigil on Monday 18th March 2019 following the horror of the New Zealand terror attack.

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AuthorGrassroots Luton

During his recent visit to Luton, Revd Dr Andrew Prasad, Moderator of the United Reformed Church (URC) Thames North Synod, applauded the work of GRASSROOTS Programme and particularly the Church Related Community Work (CRCW) Project led by Karen Campbell in partnership with Bury Park Beech Hill Council of Churches.

CRCW Project has been sponsored by the URC and supported by the Methodist Church, for nearly a decade. He was pleased to learn how Karen and others in Luton were able to create ‘Touching Places’, enabling people across faiths, cultures, ethnicities and nationalities to meet-greet and befriend one another, thus dispelling myths and prejudices about one another.

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Acknowledging it is the Fairtrade Fortnight from 25 February until 10 March, he warmly approved the Fairtrade ethos and congratulated GRASSROOTS and Luton for achieving a Fairtrade Town status. He shared an aspiration to make URC Thames North Synod, a Fairtrade Synod.

David Jonathan, Director GRASSROOTS said, “It was a privilege for us to host Revd Dr Andrew Prasad in Luton. He was encouraging and inspiring as he shared some positive ideas of developing our work further, in the years to come.”

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AuthorGrassroots Luton

Near Neighbours Luton won the Strengthening Communities award at the Bedfordshire Police Cohesion Awards on 1st February 2019.

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Near Neighbours is a national body, with Kim Greig as the lead in Luton (who is based at GRASSROOTS) and is known to care deeply for local communities.

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Near Neighbours provides small grants for projects or one off events to bring people of different faiths and ethnicities together in local communities in order to build stronger relationships and develop understanding.

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AuthorGrassroots Luton

Hundreds across the country were welcomed at the House of Lords Last week organised by Near Neighbours programme. Friends, partners, faith leaders, activists, politicians were hosted as guest of The Baroness Eaton DBE DL for an afternoon tea. The evening was a show of appreciation for the work in local communities that promote positive integration and challenging hate and intolerance.

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A delegation from Luton coming from Luton Council Faiths, Grassroots programme, the Luton Irish forum, ATTENTIVE Social Enterprise,Tokko Youth Space and Shri Guru Ravidaas Sangat represented Luton. The Near Neighbours director Paul Hackwood gave an overview of the national picture sharing some great examples as good practice while raising Brexit concerns over issues of relationship and friendship.

It was encouraging and affirming that Luton was mentioned in a very positive way, in the presence of Baroness Eaton, Lord Bourne and many others. Sanjeev Kumar from Luton spoke about Luton and shared the cooking book that the Shri Guru Ravidaas Sangat produced while working with the Luton Irish Forum. The team was cheered with a surprise visit by Luton North MP Kelvin Hopkins.

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AuthorGrassroots Luton

Simply bake a cake using Fairtrade ingredients and bring it along with the empty wrappers from at least THREE Fairtrade ingredients you have used!

There will be a Fairtrade prize for the best looking and best tasting cake - and a Fairtrade raffle too!

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This Fairtrade Fortnight 2019 event is due to be held on:

  • Date: Saturday 23rd February 2019

  • Time: 2-5pm

  • Venue: St Christopher's Church Hall, Felix Avenue, Luton LU2 7LE

For more details download the flyer here.

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AuthorGrassroots Luton

"In Memory of Mr Natwar Sinh Solanki, fondly known as Natu Bhai" of Luton Hindu Community and Vice Chair of Luton Council of Faiths, who sadly passed away on 11th Jan 2019.

You are invited for a gathering on Thursday 28th Feb at 6:30pm for 7pm start at the Council Chamber, Town Hall, Luton LU1 2BQ to honor his selfless service and dedication to the communities in Luton and to pay our tribute to him & his family.

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Parking Options are:

  • Luton Library Car Park LU1 2TR

  • Luton Central Car Park LU1 2HN

  • Dunstable Place Car Park LU1 2QT

A donation box will be available to support charities that were dear to Natu Bhai:

  • Cancer Research

  • Great Ormond St Hospital

  • Keech Hospice

Please let us know if you wish to come so we can cater for the correct seating arrangements and refreshments. Please let us know at either:

  • jgrassroots@btconnect.com

  • 01582-416946

  • 07886 350 854 (text only)

You can download the invitation here.

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AuthorGrassroots Luton

'Women & Well Being'

GRASSROOTS is happy to announce that it's annual 'Precious Pearls' event will be taking place once again for International Women’s Day, celebrating women across faiths and cultures. At this event you can:

  • Share the talents of Luton women 

  • Meet women from different backgrounds

  • Enjoy yourself with different cultural entertainment

  • Peruse the Fairtrade Stall

  • Enjoy the refreshments provided!

This event will take place on 7th March 2019 from 6:30pm - 8:30pm at High Town Methodist Church Hall, 47 High Town Road, Luton, Beds, LU2 0BW.

PLEASE NOTE THAT THIS IS A WOMENS ONLY EVENT

For more information please contact Ghar se Ghar or GRASSROOTS:

  • Call 01582 416946  

  • Email gharseghar@btconnect.com

  • Download the poster here!

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AuthorGrassroots Luton

Following Natu Bhai passing away last week on Friday, it was heartening to see many of you on Monday 14th January at Hindu Mandir Hall to meet, greet and console Natu Bhai's family. Your presence meant a great deal to the family. They are truly grateful to you all.

Many thanks to you all who wrote emails or text messages and Facebook messages expressing your condolences and support for the family. All those messages have been passed on to the family.

Natu Bhai's FUNERAL has now been arranged and it will be held on:

  • Date: Saturday 19th Jan 2019

  • Time: 2pm

  • Venue: Vale Crematorium, Butterfield Green Road, Luton LU2 8DD 

You are invited to join in for light Lunch after the Funeral at the Hindu Mandir Hall, Hereford Road, Lewsey Farm, Luton LU4 0PS.

You can also find all these details on the funeral notification sent by Natu Bhai's family here.

It will be great if you are able to make it on Saturday 19th January 2019 at 2pm at Vale Crematorium, Butterfield Green Road, Luton LU2 8DD.

With fond memories of Natu Bhai,

David Jonathan (Johny)
GRASSROOTS & LUTON COUNCIL OF FAITHS

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AuthorGrassroots Luton

TORN FROM HOME

Programme to include presentations from victims of genocide, spoken word / poetry, drama performance from the students of Stopsley High School, and an exhibition by Anne Frank Trust (refreshments will be available).

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Date: Thursday 24th January

Time: Commencing at 5:30pm / Main Programme at 6:30pm

Venue: Room G101, Campus Centre, University Square, University of Bedfordshire, LU1 3JU

For further information, download poster here, or contact:

Ann Loeffler - 01582 546033

Maureen Drummond - 01582 547228


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AuthorGrassroots Luton

It is with great sadness, deep pain and a heavy heart that we share this news that our friend, colleague and LCoF stalwart Mr Natu Bhai Solanki (Vice Chair of Luton Council of Faiths), passed away on 11th January 2019 at 7:30pm at L & D Hospital. His grieving wife, children & their families are all trying hard to come to terms with this bitter reality.

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We kindly request that we all hold the family in our thoughts and prayers and pray that Natu Bhai's kind and noble soul rest in peace.

For those who knew Natu Bhai we will deeply miss him 😥

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AuthorGrassroots Luton