Maslaha aims to change and challenge the conditions that create inequalities for Muslim communities. We combine creativity with practical work and strategic thinking to tackle social issues in areas such as health, education and the criminal justice system. We recognise that social issues sit within an ecology of interconnected factors. These factors can be stakeholders or social needs for instance, but also culture, religion and local context.
After a number of years working in different social issues such as health, education, the criminal justice system, gender equality, and the arts, Maslaha has built up a complex picture of how different inequalities affect Muslim communities and the areas where they overlap.
Why our work is important
The past few years have seen a heightened focus on Muslim communities and Islam across the UK and abroad. The combination of terrorist attacks, war, political decisions about how to tackle radicalisation have all shaped with an intense pace how Muslims are portrayed and regarded in wider society.
The levels of social deprivation and inequality, however, continue to grow. Practical initiatives that can create systemic change, remain absent.
Muslim communities in the UK face a daily barrage of violence, discrimination, inequality and stigmatisation. Our public services and politicians struggle to differentiate between different Muslim communities, whether they are Somali or Pakistani, Shia and Sunni, or how their lives are affected if they live in Walthamstow in London or Washwood Heath in Birmingham. It’s crucial to understand the rich diversity within Muslim communities if appropriate services are to be provided.
Muslims represent the largest minority faith group in the UK and constitute an ethnically diverse population with a very young age profile. A significant proportion of this population lives in deprived inner-city areas, and Muslims surpass all other faith groups in levels of unemployment, economic inactivity, ill health, educational underachievement, and poor housing conditions:
- According to the 2011 Census, 17% of all Muslims between the ages of 16 and 24 are unemployed - the highest rate, quite significantly - of any faith group, and 45% are economically inactive. Almost 100,000 Muslim men of working age are unemployed, and almost 400,000 Muslim men of working age have no qualifications.
- Multiple reports have shown that Muslim communities frequently have trouble accessing health services, and what support exists isn’t necessarily relevant or appropriate.
- A study published in December 2012 by the chief inspector of prisons and the Youth Justice Board showed that the proportion of young male offenders in Young Offender Institutions who describe themselves as Muslim had risen sharply from 13% in 2009 to 22% in 2011 – 12. Muslim prisoners account for 13.4 percent of the prison population compared with 4.2 in the 2011 census.
Our strategic objectives, developed a few years ago, still represent the core of what Maslaha will do.
- Education and empowering Muslim communities
- Educating public service providers and wider society
- Influencing systemic change and replicating local success at a national level
We carry out our objectives by focusing our work at three levels:
Creating resources that can be used local statutoryservices, for example by a GP or community organisation. Projects such as talkingfromtheheart.org, a health resource to tackle depression and anxiety in Somali, Pakistani, and Bangladeshi communities is used by seven NHS Trusts, endorsed by the Royal College of GPs, is used by Mind, and included in the Kings College London Medicine curriculum. Our health resources have reached over 17,000 patients directly.
Influencing at a strategic level but based on our work at the locallevel. Our work on allweare.org.uk has been picked up by the Young Review, a collaborative task-group chaired by Baroness Lola Young of Hornsey to improve outcomes for young African, Caribbean, mixed origin and Muslim men in the Criminal Justice System (CJS). This report has been informed by a swift intelligence gathering exercise led by the Black Training and Enterprise Group, in partnership with Clinks, with representatives from the Voluntary, Community and Social Enterprise Sector (VCSE), the private sector, statutory organisations and the academic community.
We are now part of an advisory group reporting directly to the Ministry of Justice and NOMS to ensure that the recommedations put forward by the Young Review are implemented. MOJ and NOMS have committed to work with the Young Review in taking forward its recommendations. We also contribute to shaping NICE guidelines on a regular basis.
Influencing, and where possible shaping, public debates andmedia narratives. Projects such as islamandfeminism.org featured in The Observer, Daily Telegraph, BBC Radio 4, BBC Asian Network, international press, talks at The Arcola Theatre, SOAS, Fabian Society conference. Health work such as talkingfromtheheart.org featured in The Guardian and BBC Radio 4. Our exhibitions have toured 35 cities in 11 countries, with over 55,000 visitors, plus over 35,000 unique online visitors from 143 countries: thebookoftravels.org and thecityspeaks.org
We combine creative technology (such as film, animation, music and a strong online presence) with everyday action and engagement, finding new ways to connect and communicate.
We believe access to knowledge is fundamental – without it we cannot learn, improve our lives, or understand the lives of others.
Our ideas are fuelled by our wide range of skills, and are backed up by the intellectual rigour and expertise provided by our network of advisors, supporters and friends.
Maslaha started as a Young Foundation project and continues its strong tradition of social justice.
For further information on our practical work, visit What's Happening.
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