Cherry tree symbol of peace and hope

Friday, 17th May 2019 — By Helen Chapman

Cherry tree planting

Rabbi Herschel Gluck with faith leaders and councillors from three boroughs at the tree-planting


Five cherry trees were planted in Finsbury Park this month as a symbol of peace, hope and unity in light of recent terrorist attacks at a synagogue in the USA, churches in Sri Lanka and a mosque in New Zealand.

The inter-faith tree planting was organised by the Finsbury Park Trust, London Faiths Forum and the Friends of Finsbury Park.

The tri-borough event brought together Hackney Council’s Speaker, Cllr Clare Potter; Haringey’s Mayor, Cllr Gina Adamou, and Islington’s Mayor, Dave Poyser. They were joined by local community faith leaders from mosques, synagogues and churches. Rabbi Herschel Gluck from Hackney prayed for peace, love and unity and said: “Human beings are born and die as they have a short life but trees live for ever”. His message was echoed by Mohamed Kozbar of St Thomas Road mosque, Ahmed Khelloufi of Muslim Welfare House, Rev Pauline Nashashibi and Yussuf Ahmed of Islington Somali Community.

Gina Adamou said: “We all belong to one race – the human race – irrespective of our faith, race, colour or belief and this event in bringing communities together unites us all.”

The trees were donated by the London Faiths Forum which is funded by the Mayor of London.


Fundraiser weighs in at 2,500kg

Mayor Dave Poyser with Pastor Temi Odejide and members of HOTR with the ‘cheque’ for Islington Foodbank


The House on the Rock (HOTR) charity in Tufnell Park is celebrating after raising over 2,500kg of food for the Islington

Food Bank. Each year the HOTR organises a 21-day fasting period, dubbed PUSH, standing for Prayer Until Something Happens, and invited the congregation to contribute the equivalent of food they would have eaten if not fasting. Helen Saky from HOTR said: “It was a big effort, but we feel really good about exceeding our food target and that we’re able to support the community. “We’d like to think it’s had a positive impact on the community and we’re glad we can contribute to that. We had 200-300 people who contributed from our congregation.”

Since the charity began in 2016, it has exceeded its food targets each year. Mayor of Islington Dave Poyser attended a presentation ceremony of the food gathered on April 28.

The House on the Rock is an evangelical Church based in 49 Tufnell Park Road, N7, and is headed by resident pastor T he Rev Dr Temi Odejide.

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Selfless kindness of organ donors

Musician Juwon Ogunbe is helping to raise awareness


Newington Green musician Juwon Ogunbe is to head the bill at a ceremony for black organ donors this weekend. Juwon is a musician, singer and composer whose commissions include

music for the Royal Shakespeare Company, Union Dance and the Southbank Centre. He is among the headliners at an event for more than 150 black people living in the UK who have donated an organ to a loved one or close friend.

Juwon says: “I really got behind supporting the event because I think it’s very important to acknowledge the support given by living donors to people in need, especially those with life changing health issues.”

The charity Gift of Living Donation (GOLD) whose mission is to increase awareness of organ donation and living donation is putting on the event at the Holiday Inn, Bloomsbury, on May 18. Guests will enjoy a meal whilst having the opportunity to share their experiences.

Dela Idowu, GOLD founder said: “It’s an opportunity to bring together black living donors in the UK and recognise and celebrate their acts of selfless kindness. It’s the first event of its kind in the UK where donors and recipients can connect, share stories, positive insights and truly wonderful outcomes and feel part of a generous altruistic community.”

Lisa Burnapp, lead nurse for Living Donation, NHS Blood Transplant said: “This appreciation dinner is a fantastic opportunity to say thank you to everyone who has donated but also to inspire others who may wish to consider donating a kidney.”

The number of living organ donors from the black community is declining. Last year 17 black people donated a kidney as a living donor, less than half the figure of five years earlier. In contrast there are currently 632 black people waiting for a transplant with the vast majority of those in need of a kidney. Sadly, last year 31 patients from black backgrounds died waiting for a transplant.

Find out more about becoming an organ donor and how to support the work of GOLD at

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