A decision by Newham Council to make a limited number of its parks available for Friday prayer events to mark the celebration of Eid al-Adha has been hailed a success.
The decision to allow parks to be used for prayer followed a request from Muslim faith leaders. The aim was to provide limited, socially distanced and regulated use of outside space to avoid the risk of overcrowding at Mosques and surrounding areas.
The Council worked with the Muslim community to put on the events which saw 100’s of worshippers coming together to pray in safe and defined areas, in a socially distanced outdoor environment.
All the events were subject to risk assessment and event management planning with council officials offering expert guidance and support to community leaders to help ensure the safety worshippers and other park users.
Councillor Zulfiqar Ali, Cabinet member for education, health and adult social care said: “All of our faith communities have been dutifully complying with the rules around gatherings and social distancing for several months as a result of Covid-19. Even with the relaxation of lockdown, restrictions on the numbers of people who can gather in congregation inside places of worship are severely limited.
“There were concerns from the community that the celebration of Eid al-Adha, could lead to the risk of over-crowding in Mosques and their surrounding areas, and we agreed, so we have worked hard with the community leaders to create these special events.
“We are delighted with the way the events ran, and thank all those in the community who worked with our officers to make sure everyone complied with health and safety, and specifically public health rules, to avoid risks.
“This has been a great example of how the council and community can work together as one, to tackle the challenges we face during this on-going pandemic. It will act as a template for how we work with all our faith and community groups in the coming months.”
Anas Khan of the National Muslim Foundation said: “We are the only area in London that have been able to coordinate closely and work with the local authority to put safety measures in place and host open air Eid prayers across the borough.
“There have been hundreds of hours of work put into making this happen, with dozens of officers and councillors working all hours of the day and night. And a special mention for the superhero volunteers of the masajid and the Muslim community.
“We would like to thank the Mayor and her team, assistant director Mohamed Hammoudan & his team, the public health team, ActiveNewham for bringing all this together and working with the community to keep us safe.”