A Tower Hamlets resident has launched a local branch of the national political group, Somali Friends of Labour, in preparation for the 2014 Tower Hamlets council elections.
Somali residents came together for the launch at St Margaret’s House community centre in Bethnal Green last week.
The group was founded by mother-of-two Amina Ali, a first-generation Somali immigrant who joined the Labour party when she was 17. She was helped by Rachael Saunders, Councillor for Mile End East, and fellow Tower Hamlets resident Abdi Rashid.
It will act as a pressure group and aims to help get Somalis elected as councillors in the 2014 elections. According to Ali, few Somalis are politically active, and many feel “ignored, invisible and feel like victims”.
It is estimated that there are 10,000 Somalis in Tower Hamlets, the largest Somali community in any of the London boroughs.
“People like us have been invisible too long,” Ali said at the event.
Nicky Gavron, London Assembly member and former Deputy Mayor of London, said: “Somali Friends of Labour is a vital vehicle for giving the Somali community a voice within the Labour Party, removing ignorance within the party towards the challenges the communities face and gaining recognition for those issues.”
She added that members of the Somali community had expressed concerns about overcrowded housing, health care, youth facilities and the lack of jobs.
Following the event, Ali told EastLondonLines: “The launch went really well. There was a real buzz in the community.”
The national Somali Friends of Labour party was founded last year.