National News

    Art Malik to host Ramadan Gala Dinners for charity committed to the free treatment of curable blindness and visual impairment in Pakistan

    The Graham Layton Trust (GLT), a charity committed to the free treatment of curable blindness and visual impairment in Pakistan, will be celebrating Ramadan this May with exclusive gala dinners in both London and Manchester hosted by international actor and GLT Trustee, Art Malik.

    The first dinner will be held at the Grand Sapphire Hotel in Croydon on May 5, and Manchester’s luxurious Vermilion will play host to GLT’s second dinner on May 12, with all proceeds going towards GLT.

    Actor and GLT Trustee, Art Malik, says: “The Graham Layton Trust is the largest provider of free eye-care in Pakistan and does life-changing work, so it’s an honour for me to host the charity’s two Ramadan dinners this May, as well as work as a Trustee. Alongside marking this sacred time, we will be celebrating the incredible impact that GLT has had in transforming the lives of over 37 million of Pakistan’s most needy people.”

    Since launching in 1985, GLT and its sister charity, Layton Rahmatulla Benevolent Trust have worked to treat over 37 million cases of curable blindness and visual impairment by providing high quality free eye surgery and ophthalmic care for those who cannot afford it. In doing so, GLT has helped to restore dignity, independence and hope to some of Pakistan’s poorest and most marginalised people.

    GLT has developed a network of 19 hospitals, 56 clinics and outreach centres across Pakistan, enabling the treatment of people in urban centres and isolated rural areas, which have poor healthcare facilities. The charity also invests in teaching and training doctors and technicians in the latest eye-care treatments, as well as the latest technology and equipment to ensure patients receive the best clinical care.

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    Aaron Mooy nominated for Asian International Player of the Year award

    Huddersfield Town midfielder Aaron Mooy has been  nominated for the Asian International Player of the Year award.

    The 27 year-old, who has helped Huddersfield Town punch above their weight in the Premier League, has also been  influential in helping Australia qualify for this summer’s World Cup in Russia.

    His efforts have been recognised, and Mooy has been shortlisted for the award alongside Japan and Borussia Dortmund's 2012 winner Shinji Kagawa, and 2015 winner Son Heung-min, who has been a a standout player for both South Korea and  Tottenham Hotspur.

    Mooy is no stranger when it comes to winning awards. At the beginning of the season, he was was voted the Australian Footballer of the Year, becoming the first player to win the prestigious award twice.

    The nominees for the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Player of the Year award, for Asia-based players, are China's Wu Lei, Syria's Omar Khribin and the UAE's Omar Abdulrahman Al Amoudi.

    The winners will be announced by the Asian Football Confederation on Wednesday 29 November 2017 at the AFC Annual Awards ceremony held in Bangkok, Thailand.

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    BBC faces backlash over salaries as top seven earners are all white men.

    The BBC has been criticised over the huge gender pay gap and lack of diversity, after being forced to reveal their highest paid stars’ salaries. The broadcaster’s data has revealed that it’s top seven earners are all white men, whilst out of its 96 top earners only 11 come from a BAME background.

    The salaries are divided into pay bands, and only include pay for presenters and talent who work directly for the BBC, mainly in news, radio, sport, and some drama. The totals don't include fees paid by independent production companies who make some of the BBC's biggest hit comedy and entertainment shows. They also do not disclose the income earned through BBC Worldwide.

    Radio 2’s Chris Evans tops the list, making between £2.2 million and £2.25 million in 2016/2017, closely followed by Match of the Day presenter Gary Lineker, who earned between £1.75 million and £1.8 million.

    Other top earners include Graham Norton (£850,0000 - £899,999), Jeremy Vine (£700,000 - £749,999), John Humphrys (£600,000 - £649,999), Huw Edwards (£550,000 - £599,999), and Steve Wright (£500,000 - £549,999).

    The highest paid female is Claudia Winkleman, who made between £450,000 and £499,999, over four times less than Evans.

    The highest paid female and the only highest paid female from a BAME background is Mishal Hussain with earnings of £200,000 - £299,999.

    A statement from the BBC on the release of the statistics said: “On gender and diversity, the BBC is more diverse than the broadcasting industry and the civil service.

    “We have set the most stretching targets in the industry for on-air diversity and we’ve made progress, but we recognise there is more to do and we are pushing further and faster than any other broadcaster.”

    Just 10 people on the list were from a minority ethnic background, and they tended to fall into the lower end of the earnings scale. The highest-ranked earner Chris Evans, took home approximately the same as all of its BAME high-earners put together last year. The maximum that all BAME staff together earned last year, based on the upper limit of the BBC’s bands, was £2.24m, while the minimum Chris Evans could have earned was £2.2m.

    The broadcaster is believed to be working towards a goal of 15 per cent black and ethnic minority talent by 2020.

    BBC Chief Tony Hall said: “On gender and diversity, the BBC is more diverse than the broadcasting industry and the Civil Service. We have set the most stretching targets in the industry for on-air diversity and we’ve made progress, but we recognise there is more to do and we are pushing further and faster than any other broadcaster."

    He went on: “At the moment, of the talent earning over £150,000, two-thirds are men and one-third are women. We’ve set a clear target for 2020: we want all our lead and presenting roles to be equally divided between men and women. And it’s already having a huge impact. If you look at those on the list who we have hired or promoted in the last three years, 60 per cent are women and nearly a fifth come from a BAME background.”

    Many have taken to social media to express their outrage over the recent disclosure of salaries.

    @nadineaishaj Lets not forget #BBCpaygap isn't just abt gender (tho glad we're talking abt it), but also shows other inequalities + lack of representation

    @KASiddall We're not just talking about men v woman in terms of #BBCPayGap issue. What about those who aren't white?! What the actual f*ck!? No excuse.

    @AssedBaig  While everyone is distracted by how much BBC stars get paid, people are forgetting how little BME peeps get paid...

    @omaromalleykhan BBC racial pay gap is poor. Tho prob no worse than all UK employers, incl in London, where 4/10 aged 45-54 are BME. Do any boards, SMT match?

    What are your views on BBC top salaries? Are women underpaid? Is the BBC under paying BAME talent? Or do you think the top earners salaries are justified?

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    Queen’s Birthday Honours list – most diverse yet!

    The Queen's Birthday Honours list has been released, recognising more than 1,000 people for commitment to public service.

    The list has been described by the honours committee as the most diverse yet, with half of this year's honourees being women, while 10 per cent are from black and minority ethnic backgrounds.

    There is a total of 1,109 people on the Queen's Birthday Honours list, of whom 438 are awarded an MBE, 221 an OBE and 303 a BEM. Some might argue 10 per cent is still some way to go before we get a true representative of all our diverse communities, nevertheless, it’s good to see an increase, however small.

    The honourees this year include Police Constable Keith Palmer, who was stabbed to death by attacker Khalid Masood in March on the forecourt of the Palace of Westminster. He has been awarded the George Medal for confronting an armed terrorist to protect others and Parliament. Also receiving the George medal is the heroic passer-by, Bernard Kenny, who was stabbed in the abdomen as he tried to stop neo-Nazi Thomas Mair attacking MP Jo Cox outside her constituency surgery in Yorkshire.

    Among the British Asians receiving a Knighthood are Professor Mir Saeed ZAHEDI, Technical Director at Blatchford & Sons for services to Engineering and Innovation. Joining him is Professor Alimuddin Zumla, Professor of Infectious Diseases and International Health at the University College London for services to Public Health and Protection from Infectious Disease.

    Responding to the news of the Knighthood, Professor Alimuddin said: “I am absolutely delighted to be accorded this wonderful honour. It’s awe inspiring and a great privilege to be together with exceptional people who have distinguished themselves, serving humanity in different ways with great commitment and impact.

    “I would like to share this honour with the numerous selfless and committed people across the world, who I work with effectively on a range of academic capacity development, advocacy and charity activities on poverty-related diseases. I am blessed with a very supportive family excellent research teams and awesome talented friends who have shown ‘unity of purpose’ for improving the lives and health of disadvantaged populations worldwide.”

    Britain’s Asian Women were also represented well, with nineteen of them on the honours list this year, which included Parveen June Kumar who has been conferred the prestigious Dames Commander of the Order of the British Empire (DBE) for services to medicine and medical education.

    The 74-year-old Professor of Medicine and Education at Bart's and the London School of Medicine and Queen Mary, University of London, is also the co-editor and author of a revolutionary 1989 textbook, 'Kumar and Clark's Clinical Medicine', which is credited with improvements in the education of medical students, doctors and nurses in training both at home and abroad.

    Another notable recipient is diversity champion, Dr Kamel Hothi, who received an OBE for her services in the banking sector.

    Dr Hothi is Head of Responsible Business Special Projects at the Lloyds Banking Group. She migrated to Slough at the age of six from India with her family. Upon leaving school she found a job as a cashier at TSB (prior to the merger with Lloyds Bank) in Slough High St. She progressed up the career ladder becoming an assistant manager at Maidenhead and then went on to be their first Asian Bank Manager at Walton on Thames.

    After managing several other branches, she became the Area Manager for Thames Valley covering 160 branches until the merger of TSB and Lloyds Bank when she was asked to support the merger and transferred to their head office in London. It was following the lack of diversity she witnessed in the City that influenced Kamel to speak up and take action. She was soon challenging views resulting in being invited to chair several committees and mentor individuals.

    Kamel continued to work hard and break glass ceilings and now with 38 years’ banking experience she is recognised for being the architect behind the Asian Strategy across Lloyds Banking Group. Her remits have included product development, cultural training, strategy and marketing, resulting in some very high-profile sponsorships of over 30 national Asian events including sponsoring The Asian Jewel Awards and The Asian Women of Achievement Awards for seven years. It is through the sponsorship of such events that Kamel helped improve access to finance for Ethnic communities and creating platforms to acknowledge their invaluable contribution to UK society and the economy.

    In speaking about the recognition, Kamel Hothi says, “I am truly humbled to be honoured in such a profound way but feel this recognition is for my parents who survived the partition of India and Pakistan – the biggest migration of refugees and brought us here to the UK to build a better life. My father was a civil engineer in India but unfortunately in the 60’s his skills were not acknowledged.  He did struggle with this biasness and refused for me to go onto further education believing there was no point and arranged my marriage at 19. It was these experiences that have driven me to improve and create a level playing field for all concerned.  I just wished my parents were alive today to witness me receiving my OBE from the Queen so to prove that hard work is recognised regardless of your background.”

    For a full list click here

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    Six people dead and many injured in Grenfell Tower blaze

    A huge fire broke out at a west London tower block during the early hours of Wednesday morning. As reports coming in six people have died and more than 50 are in hospital after a huge fire raged through the night at a west London tower block, a fire chief says.

    Eyewitnesses described people trapped in the burning Grenfell Tower, in north Kensington, screaming for help and yelling for their children to be saved.

    The 24-storey block, which is still believed to be on fire, looks at risk of collapsing.

    During the night, eyewitnesses said they saw lights - thought to be mobile phones or torches - flashing at the top of the block of flats, and trapped residents coming to their windows - some holding children.

    Image credit: Wilson Chowdry

    The Met Police has set up an emergency number on 0800 0961 233 for anyone concerned about friends or family.

    London Fire Commissioner Dany Cotton said there had been "a number of fatalities" but she could not say how many because of the "size and complexity" of the building.

    “In my 29 years of being a firefighter I have never seen anything of this scale. Based on the level of resources needed at this fire, we declared this a major incident very early this morning.” She said

    She urged all residents to make sure they had reported themselves to police so that the authorities know they are safe.

    The cause was not yet known and it was too early to speculate on the building, she said, although it was structurally safe enough for her crews to be working inside.

    By mid-morning, the building looked to be just smoking ruins but the fire has again taken hold, and cladding is falling to the ground.

    Mayor Sadiq Khan said he was devastated by the horrific scenes, attended by more than 250 firefighters and 100 ambulance medics.

    Questions will need to be answered over the safety of tower blocks, he told BBC Radio.

    "We can't have a situation where people's safety is put at risk because of bad advice being given or if it is the case, as has been alleged, of tower blocks not being properly serviced or maintained," he said.

    Matt Wrack, of the Fire Brigades Union said something had clearly gone badly wrong with fire prevention procedures at the building.

    Firefighters would normally fight a fire in a tower block from the inside, going up the fire escape, and fighting using the internal dry-rising mains, he said, but that's not been possible in this case.

    Image credit: Wilson Chowdry

    "Several hundred" people would have been in the block when the fire broke out, leader of Kensington and Chelsea Borough Nick Paget-Brown said.

    Chairman of the British Pakistani Christian Association, Wilson Chowdhry travelled to the blaze to offer help and bottles of water to victims.

    He told Asian Standard: "When I got there the police cordons had not yet been fully implemented. I was able to reach victims and offer them water from the two crates that had been in my home.

    "People were crying in the streets they were all shocked and stunned. Those that spoke described very harrowing accounts of how people escaped the flats. Many told me that they had not heard any fire alarm.

    "People heard bangs and pops as the fire raged on. Most people learnt about the fire through kind but panicked neighbours who woke them up with vigorous knocking. One man told me the fire began from one of the lower levels but rapidly rose and engulfed the building.

    "Many people were still looking for friends and family it was a very disturbing place. This situation was exacerbated as people fleeing the blaze left their phones behind.

    "The fire just raged on and all of us were praying that the building would not collapse as it is in the midst of a densely populated area.”

    An emergency number has been set up by The Met Police Anyone concerned about their family and friends can call 0800 0961 233 for anyone concerned about friends or family.

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