This originally appeared as a blog entry on the Duchess of Hackney Blog
With a less than inspiring line up, in the bid for Councillor in Hackney Central ward’s May 3rd by-election, it’s refreshing and reassuring to know that there is someone who actually lives in Hackney Central and is not a soulless politico prototype looking to cut his teeth in the borough on his way to Westminster. Mustafa Korel has Lived in Hackney Central for 18 of the 20 years he has lived in the borough and the more I learn about Korel, the more I like the guy…. and he is very likable, without the snake oil salesman tactics and lame hype
Korel ticks all the boxes in different ways, especially when it comes to youth involvement in the borough and unlike most of his opponents is more in touch with the people he will be representing.
So who is Mustafa Korel? He works in the third sector as a Marketing and Events Administrator and has lived in Hackney for most of his life, where he grew up on a housing estate in Hackney Central. A Campaign Coordinator for Hackney Green Party, he has been involved in helping the people in his ward on a grass roots level for over a decade, in fact since he was a teenager. Hackney’s youths, decent and affordable housing are at the centre of his campaign and I was impressed and pleased to hear the passion in him, when he talked about what I consider the two most important issues in Hackney.
He explained to me: “Back when the cuts in Hackney came into action, one of the first things to go was the Youth Service. This was ‘merged’ with the Youth Offending Team (which did a very specialised job) and it’s now called ‘Young Hackney Service’. If you try to navigate through the website, www.younghackney.org, you will soon find that this service is mainly online based and used as a sign-posting tool to other organisations. This merger also got rid of something called the Joint Negotiating Committee (JNC), which is the national framework used to set grade and pay for youth workers – a poor choice which puts in to question, how experienced or qualified the youth workers are now, in dealing with young people and roles in youth justice or if they are on the right pay scale.
“This new Young Hackney Service concerns me. The Council are using passive tools to broadcast services to young people and what’s available to them in Hackney. A service that is focused on passive online services in favour of real engagement does not work.
“He added: I should also mention that studies consistently show that up to 70% of social housing do not have access to the internet – so how does the council propose on getting young people to see this website in their [young peoples] own time and on their own terms rather than being dependent on libraries or internet cafes to access it?”
“What the Council should be doing is engaging young people through their youth clubs and through outreach services.
“A youth service should be about encouraging young people to do their best through proven means of communication: outreach and face-to-face work, not by relying on an online ‘hub’.”
Mustafa Korel’s campaign may not include high profile photo ops with the Deputy Prime Minister or appearance on News Week, but it has been robust locally, where it matters because he is the real deal and not a gimmick that requires bolstering with hype and smoke screens.
With one candidate who’s party aware of cynical voters views of slick politicos, tried to hide his successful high flying legal career and his attempts in other parts of the UK, to gain political office, another who is a hardy perennial that pops up on ballot sheets all over London and an over-hyped You Tube sensation who ranted on the streets of Hackney during last summers riots, one can’t help thinking Mustafa Korel is a keeper.
I am not a party political person, not affiliated to any party and don’t see myself being so, for the foreseeable future, but I will vote for an individual if they tick some boxes.
Other candidates are Ben Hayhurst (Labour), Andrew Boff (Conservatives) and Pauline Pearce (Lib Dems)
This little ditty Korel penned, pretty much sums up he and his Hackney connection.
“I am local.
I don’t have wealth, but a mum who has never left me wanting despite growing up in poverty, and a sister who has inspired me to help others and taught me how to be modest.
I have experience of living in Hackney and of knowing what it means to be a resident for 20 years and seeing changes on my estate and in my neighbourhood.
I have laughed with my neighbours and I have cried with my neighbours.
I have played five-a-side on my estate and sat on the rusty see-saw with the people I grew up with.
I have seen the rust replaced with a new playground with the funding my sister found for our TRA.
I have been mugged on Sandringham Road and found what other people rarely do – justice.
I have worked in Kingsland Shopping Centre and volunteered off Reading Lane.
I have studied at the school across the road which has since been knocked down, the school that I have been beaten up at for being different.
I have completed my work experience at Stormont House School and ran workshops at the Huddleston Centre in Hackney.
I have learnt how to ride a bike in front of my house with Pierre and Corrina.
I have hoped and I have dreamed looking outside of my window, each time watching that tree that has been there ever since I have been here.
I have seen people come and go. Some who have passed away, some who have moved on and some like me who chose to stay. I have been ever hopeful for a different voice in Hackney which will speak up at injustice and which is owned by Hackney residents.
A voice that understands social and environmental change go hand-in-hand, not one before the other.
One that is fair and outspoken.
One that is local.”