“Unsung Hero” Umar Mahmood Recognised at London Leadership and Peace Awards 2018

The iconic City Hall, home of the Mayor of London, was host to the London Leadership and Peace Awards 2018 where leading “role models and unsung heroes” were recognised for their contribution in varying fields supporting the development of peace. Supported by the Mayor of London and the Peace Alliance, Lambeth’s very own young Muslim leader Umar Mahmood was “duly recognised for their valuable contribution to peace and justice”. He was recognised under the “Individual Community Spirit” category, where nominees “inspirational leadership has promoted peace in their school or community”. Chief guests included Dr Debbie Weekes-Bernard (Deputy Mayor of London for Social Integration, Social Mobility and Community Engagement), Terry Mansfield CBE (former Chairman of MOBO music awards), Detective Chief Superintendent Helen Millichap (Borough Commander for Haringey Metropolitan Police Service) and Sir Ken Olisa (Her Majesty’s Lord Lieutenant of Greater London).

Umar Mahmood has been an integral part of London led activities to promote understanding and bridging the knowledge gap between faiths to support community cohesion. His work has resulted in several major activities including a conference on “Engaging Faith Communities with British Democracy”, Interfaith Iftar in memory of those who lost their lives during the 2018 attacks, high level dialogue between the Muslim community and Met Police and an Interfaith Eid Celebration.

In organising countless events to support community led approach to peace and cohesion, thousands of people have been positively impacted in and around London. His work has also included the improvement and development of political and religious literacy, especially the overlap between faith and politics.

Supported by Her Majesty’s Lord Lieutenant of Greater London’s Council on Faith and Haringey Metropolitan Police, the London Leadership and Peace Awards began as the Haringey Peace Awards in Alexandra Palace and was attended by former Home Secretary, The Rt Hon. David Blunkett MP. The Awards highlight the unsung heroes that work towards peace and justice within their communities, bringing together people and organisations from across London.

Sir Ken Olisa, Her Majesty’s Lord Lieutenant of Greater London, said “Many people think that they cannot achieve higher status in their life, especially looking at someone like me in my fancy outfit but what people do not know is that my life started like so many others. Like many, my father came here from another country, met my white mother and had me. My mother brought me up as a single mother in Nottingham and I worked my way to where I am now. She gave me a great sense of social justice in the world. There are two ends of the spectrum: on the right, evil people who want to harm others and on the left, good people who want to help others. It is my job to help those of us on the left to stop the evil people on the far right.”

“It is not impossible for people like you and I to achieve greatness in this country, it takes effort, opportunity and recognition. So tonight, I offer my recognition to all winners and nominees so that you may continue the work you do to make this city a better place”, he said.

“If I can be of any help to any project or activity you are more than welcome to contact me and I will extend all support I can” concluded Sir Ken Olisa.

Dr Debbie Weekes-Bernard, Deputy Mayor of London for Social Integration, Social Mobility and Community Engagement, said “There is a huge contribution from the local community towards government activities and a lot of that comes from faith organisations including Churches, Mosques and other religious institutions. There are so many unsung heroes and it was an extremely difficult task for the judges to choose from over 150 nominations. We thank you for the work you have been doing and hope that next year you continue.”

Receiving his award from Sir Ken Olisa and Terry Mansfield CBE, Umar Mahmood said “This is a brilliant way to round off 2018! I am ever so grateful to Her Majesty’s Lord Lieutenant of Greater London Sir Ken Olisa, Deputy Mayor of London Dr Debbie Weekes-Bernard, Terry Mansfield CBE and the London Leadership and Peace Awards for recognising the work I have been doing, it is a major motivational boost for me and others like me who have been doing similar work.”

“We do this not for recognition, but to see the smile on the faces of those who benefit from the work we do, especially when that strengthens the community. I have always aimed to empower fellow citizens to become engaged in our collaborative efforts of promoting peace and interfaith harmony. We have seen clear evidence that it builds stronger ties, builds bridges and a more cohesive community”, he added.

Echoing Sir Ken Olisa, he went on to say “It is often young people of colour who feel that they do not get the recognition they deserve for the work they have been doing but these awards are a great show of appreciation for all. The problems that plague society today, such as knife crime and radicalisation, have to be resolved with a community led approach, making our youth the tip of the spear that can pierce through this disease. Our future leaders are the antidote and we have to prepare for the youth to be administered to where these diseases are manifesting. It is important that we break the cycle of old habits and get back to grassroots organisations leading the way to more social justice and a safer community.”

Umar Mahmood was recognised for his work with statutory bodies and in particular his efforts to act as a conduit between the Muslim community and bodies such as the Metropolitan Police. “The Muslim community have been welcoming people from all backgrounds through their doors and our work through Forum for International Relations Development (FIRD) has been pivotal in providing the foundation to strategic changes in the area, including capacity building training for borough wide organisations. This will continue in 2019 and we will work closer than ever”, he added.

Detective Chief Superintendent Helen Millichap, Borough Commander for Haringey Metropolitan Police Service, agreed saying “There has been an increase in knife crime in the city and we are facing unprecedented difficulties. The Metropolitan Police Service has a role to play to keep our communities safe but that is not possible without the community supporting us. That includes community intelligence as well as strengthening our relationship.

We work really close with children services and schools to make sure that if there is a chance to divert young people from crime or to prevent them from falling into trouble. We are increasing our partnerships with the voluntary sector and community organisations because the work that you do is so important in helping us to prevent crime. We want to recognise your work and that is why we are supporting these awards”, she concluded.

Previously, Umar was recognised by Sir Ken Olisa and the Faith & Belief Forum as an Inspiration Individual as well as on two separate occasions by interfaith leaders and members of parliament including Rt. Hon. Stephen Timms MP, Helen Hayes MP, Dr. Harriet Crabtree OBE, Afzal Khan MP, Mayor of Southwark Catherine Rose, Dr. Rosena Khan MP and others for over a decade of service to interfaith harmony and community development.


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