Journey to Justice

Journey to Justice: Newham

See NewYVC’s latest song ‘Strong Hearts’ inspired by Journey to Justice

Nasreen Saddique – ‘Anne Frank with a telephone’

In 1982 twelve-year-old Nasreen Saddique started a daily diary of the nightly racist attacks on her family in Stratford. Campaigning journalist John Pilger told her story in the Daily Mirror and devoted a chapter to her in his book Heroes. The attacks went on for six years and nothing was done by police or other authorities. Eventually Nasreen and her family took action through the courts to get justice.

In this film Nasreen as an adult talks to Journey to Justice.

Part One: Nasreen tells the story of what happened.

Part Two: Nasreen reflects on the experience and how she feels now.

Living Song CIC

JtoJ worked with Newham based Living Song CIC after their director Jane Wheeler attended the JtoJ launch in Tower Hamlets in 2016. We were delighted Beckton Globe Library could host the exhibition and are hugely grateful to staff there and all our Newham partners.

We ran a full education and art programme exploring social change with and for people across Newham, telling local stories of struggles for freedom and justice by ‘ordinary’ people.

Living Song CIC is an East London based company working locally and nationally to help young people shine and develop through musical activity, in particular singing and creative vocal work. They work with a wide team of highly skilled and experienced artists who are in turn supported by a diverse community of young apprentices offering a model of lifelong learning. See 5 minute film of NewYVC at the Royal Festival Hall


Living Song CIC at Stratford Circus

To see Newham JtoJ stories:


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Music and Freedom Launch Film

In spite of heavy snow in early March, Beckton Globe Library was full with standing room only for the launch of Music and Freedom in Newham with our wonderful partners Living Song. Watch our film of the event packed with music to stir the soul, stories to inspire and thoughts about community and action for change.

Five Fridays Project for Black History Month in Newham 2018

The mayor of Newham, Rokhsana Fiaz wants to consult people in the borough about Black History Month, asking what does it mean to them? Is it a good thing? Should Newham keep it as it is?

Our partner Living Song invited JtoJ to be part of a Council funded project called Five Fridays involving activities, film and sharing experiences. Each session was run by a local young artist, Jane Wheeler and Tania or Martin from JtoJ and each culminated in writing a song based on the discussions. Newham Council will keep all the feedback, views and songs.

Sessions were run in four Newham libraries: East Ham, Plaistow, Beckton and Stratford with a showcase event on October 26th at Stratford Old Town Hall.

Comments and text gathered from participants in the song-making workshops were rich and varied, generating statements such as:

The showcase event was an unforgettable celebration of music and community. Each library group performed the song they’d written, accompanied by young artists and everyone felt uplifted.

The Songs:

Stratford: I Can Make a Difference

East Ham: Don’t Be Afraid of a Complex Story

Plaistow:We Must Always Build Each Other Up (You Are You)

Beckton Globe: A Beautiful Mosaic

“Congratulations to all of you who came to sing your song and share your discussions last Friday at the Old Stratford Town Hall. We really enjoyed the connection with everyone. Some wonderful singing too! It was great to work with Journey to Justice on this project again. Hopefully we can share the film made specially another time.”  (Jane Wheeler)

MLK 50

50 years since the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. we will also remember stories of Black and Asian British people who took a stand against racism and won.

In 1966, Asquith Xavier, a porter at Marylebone station, applied to be a guard at Euston and was rejected because of the ‘colour bar’ which was legal at the time. Hear his daughter Maria Xavier talk about how he challenged the authorities.

In 1982, Goga Khan was one of the Newham 8, a group of young Asians whose case upheld the right of self defence and highlighted racism in the police force. Hear Goga Khan tell the Newham 8 story.

Two local choirs will also be performing: ASTA Singers led by Itoya Osagiede an Amina Gichinga supported by Solid Harmony and the Isle of Dogs Community Choir led by Nathan Davonte

​Please publicise​ this event &​ the  ​JtoJ ​civil rights exhibition at Beckton Globe Library, Kingsford Way, E16 5JQ telling stories you’ve seldom heard, told by people who made them happen, from the US civil rights movement, the UK and Newham’s struggles for social justice.

Music and Freedom Project in partnership with Living Song: March & April 2018


The launch 

“It was a beautiful event. Top balance between speech and song, story and passion.”

Two days before the launch it seemed doomed by the weather. Our core exhibition was stranded in snowbound Newcastle and wouldn’t be there, the heating had failed in the youth centre sports hall and a key speaker, our patron Leyla Hussein, was stuck in the USA with flights to the UK cancelled. However, we had all put so much into creating a fantastic line up nothing was going to prevent us from going ahead. Read Martin Spafford’s scintillating account of the afternoon with Newham choirs and local stories of struggles for justice. It was a most uplifting, joyful start to our Music and Freedom Project and everyone enjoyed the show. The exhibition has arrived! On display until April 30th.

“I can’t tell you how impressed I was by the launch.. It was just right – as to both content and the hugely appealing character of all the singers and  speaker.. I was hugely inspired by the people and the stories and songs they communicated.  The whole event was so uplifting, so sincere, so persuasive.  A great, great success.”

“Today was another wonderful JtoJ event. Great to be part of such a wonderful celebration. Very heartwarming.”

“What a lovely event. I was mostly struck by how effortlessly it was such a representation of different ethnicity, class, gender and age. So warm and festive. It created so much curiosity for the exhibition, maybe it’s good people have to come back and give it proper time.”

The JtoJ travelling exhibition opens at Beckton Globe Library in Newham, east London (DLR Beckton) on Monday March 12th and launched on Saturday March 3rd to a packed audience. With a strong focus on music and Newham stories we explore what makes action for social justice succeed. There will be linked events and workshops at Newham venues during the two month run – details to follow soon.

Living Song CIC is an East London based company working locally and nationally to help young people shine and develop through musical activity, in particular singing and creative vocal work. We work with a wide team of highly skilled and experienced artists who are in turn supported by a diverse community of young apprentices offering a model of life long learning:

See a feature on JtoJ in the Newham Mag here

See us featured in the Newham Recorder here

Read our report of the project and its impact here

With huge thanks to all our volunteers:

Tania Aubeelack, Arianna Assanelli, Mohini Puri, Richard Scott, Zeba Khalid, Tim Spafford, Emily Potts, Vivien Sproule, Lidia Guerra, Rob Ryan, Hana Bellin, Ema Jackson, Faith Flerin, Stefany Velez, Joy Emonfomwan, Benjamina Matobo, Annabel Mokwenye, Sheila Campbell, Mark Hutchinson, Alison Wood, Kat Bax, Mahzabin Ahmed, Simran Chadha, Mary Spyrou, Frances Cornford, Alison Burns, Pat Boyer, Martin Spafford, Carrie Supple.

And to all the young artists and choirs: Amina Gichinga, Itoya Osagiede, Naomi Scarlett, Marina Hart, Bukola Abdul, Nathan Davonte, Mohan Dhar, Diân Gasper, Priscilla Hossain, Abena Adofo, Abigail Asante, the Asta Singers, Forest Voices, Isle of Dogs Community Choir, Forest Voices, Solid Harmony, the Newham Super Choir, the Age Well Singers and NewVIc and Jane Wheeler, Director of Living Song CIC who brings them all together.

theprogrammeFriday 9th March

International Women’s Day to celebrate women’s past, present and future.

Inspirational speakers representing our diverse community, art exhibition, choirs, performances, workshops for all ages and delicious refreshments.

FREE. All comers.

From 5pm @ Forest Gate Youth Action Zone,  1 Woodford Road,  Forest Gate,  London, E7 0DH


Sunday 18th March

OPEN MIC – Newham Night – Music and Freedom Hosted by Abena The Actress!


7-10 pm at Gerry’s, Gerry Raffles Square, Stratford E15 1BN



Wednesday 21st March

A City of Unity? Performing arts students from NewVIc reflect on what ‘being united’ means, through art, dance and music.

Closed event for parents and friends of the students.

7.00pm @ NewVIc, Prince Regent Lane, London E13 8SGNewvic

Friday 23rd March

A night of Jazz with the Robert Mitchell Band, including reflections on social justice through Jazz music.

£10.oo per ticket

All comers

8pm and 9.45pm @ Stratford Circus, Theatre Square, E15 1BX



Monday 26th March

Journey to Justice Train the Trainers  – twilight

An opportunity to learn about the Journey to Justice approach to human rights education – inspiring action for social justice through stories, history& the arts – workshops, discussion, films& resources.

£15 including refreshments

5.00 – 8.00 pm @ St. John’s Church, Stratford Broadway E15 1NG











Fifteen of us spent a rich three hours together exploring the JtoJ approach with local Focus E15 campaigners and we examined what makes human rights movements succeed. Participants were school  and University teachers, students, artists, activists and from Business in the Community. We hope JtoJ activities will be embedded in their practice. Feedback was warm and positive:

“The presenters were very welcoming, inclusive, friendly, accessible, engaging and creative.”

 “JtoJ likes to look at the full picture and gives a voice to people who normally wouldn’t have one. It has an interactive and impactful approach to reaching its audience.”

“The approach would work well with undergraduate students – using stories of real campaigns to support thinking about the ingredients of successful action for social change.”

“When I become a teacher I will use the approach.”

It was lovely to be able to intact with others about issues that are far too often overlooked. It was powerful to have the various activities and the woman with her children telling her story from an inside perspective.”

I think it is a good way to critically think about controversial topics and I can try to incorporate some of the tactics such as expressing myself through art or by observing the art of others as well as going directly to the source to ask their point of view and understand their voice.”

“The song at the end [was the best]. How powerful to make it up so quickly.”trainthetrainers_followup_pic2 trainthetrainers_followup_pic1


Wednesday 4th April 

50 years since the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. we will also remember stories of Black and Asian British people who took a stand against racism and won.

In 1966, Asquith Xavier, a porter at Marylebone station, applied to be a guard at Euston and was rejected because of the ‘colour bar’ which was legal at the time. Hear his daughter Maria Xavier talk about how he challenged the authorities and see the plaque dedicated to him at Euston today.

In 1982 Goga Khan was one of the Newham 8, a group of young Asians whose case upheld the right of self defence and highlighted racism in the police force. When they appeared in court hundreds of Newham schoolchildren went on strike to join the pickets. Hear Goga tell the Newham 8 story.


6-8pm  Custom House and Canning Town Community Neighbourhood Centre and Library


First Day At Work      Credt: Getty Images

4th April 2018: 50 years since the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. we remembered stories of Black and Asian British people who took a stand against racism and won.

A packed, energised meeting at Custom House and Canning Town Neighbourhood Centre and Library heard first-hand accounts of two UK actions against racism. Maria Xavier and family told of her father’s successful battle against the 1960s colour bar at Euston Station and Goga Khan – there with his family – shared his story as the youngest member of the Newham 8 in the early 1980s. Two choirs of residents from Silvertown/North Woolwich and the Isle of Dogs sang powerful songs and recited moving poetry about youth crime, gentrification and the decline of the docks. And Mohan Dhar sang a deeply moving rendition of Sam Cooke’s ‘A Change is Gonna Come’ localised to Newham and the River Thames.

I feel the evening came as close as we’ve ever been to our vision, mission and aims being enacted in a single event. There was a frisson of excitement as people in the audience became aware of stories in their own community  of people who took action for justice and realised it could be successful. You could feel that realisation in the room and it generated discussion  during the event and afterwards about the need today for the kinds of community action and organisation that had such an impact in the recent past. People were galvanised to network, share contacts, get involved with JtoJ, take up personal challenges with renewed vigour – we know this because they told us.  The audience was predominantly local and extremely diverse by ethnicity, gender and age. The presence of ‘elders’ – the Xavier family and former leading activists of the Newham Monitoring Project – gave a feeling of connection across time.

So the event ‘deepened awareness of the history of individuals and movements who take a stand’ and ‘showed that injustice can be challenged’ (AIMS). It ‘galvanised people to take action through learning about human rights movements and the arts (in this case, music)’ (MISSION). And at that moment there was a sense of the VISION, of people ‘feeling responsible for social justice’ and wanting to be ‘active in promoting and ensuring it’. There was a strong sense of things that need to be done and the possibility of doing them: whether that happens, of course, is another question but towards the end of the evening we felt a collective sense of the need to build on what had been achieved in the past. That’s an important step.

“What a great event. I loved hearing a personal account of Asquith Xavier – a story I knew nothing about. Always so inspired by the work you do.”

“Very special to bear witness to important stories and wonderful music.”

 “Brilliant spirit!”

“Tonight was great. Thank you! I learnt a great deal. I have my own Journey to Justice and I will take strength from this evening.”

“It was an amazing evening, thank you.”

“It was compelling, a great balance of music and talk& film, made it a positive night though remembering MLK’s murder.”

 Thursday 12th April   

Music and Freedom Sing-A-Long for Senior Citizens.


11 – 1pm @ Stratford Circus, Theatre Square E15 1BX

Wednesday 18th April

Newham Music and Kingsford School present: The Beckton Groove Choir and Special Guests 4pm at Beckton Globe Library  FREE.

All comers welcome   1 Kingsford Way, Beckton, E6 5JQ

Tuesday 24th April 

Open session with NewYVC for 10 – 18 year olds, singing songs of freedom and collaboration in song-writing, dedicated to human rights.


4.30 – 6.30pm @ Stratford Circus, Theatre Square, E125 1BX

Contact to confirm your child’s place.NewYVC


Thrusday April 26th

‘A Singers Tale’ with Carol Grimes “The Edith Piaf of British Music” (Camden Review)

£1 and £2

7 – 9pm @ Applecart Arts Applecart Arts, 170 Harold Road, London E13 0SE.

Please contact for further infoCarolGrimes


Saturday April 28th

A night of Jazz with the Timepiece Trio including reflections on social justice through Jazz music.

FREE  All comers

5.00 – 7pm @ Beckton Globe Library, Kingsford Rd, E6 5JQ



** Watch this space for details of further events. 

Local Newham stories told in the exhibition:

 Asquith Xavier, 1966  –   a London railway man who forced a change when refused a job at Euston station because he was Black

Ronan Point Disaster, 1968  the campaign for proper safety standards in tower blocks after a Newham disaster.

Powerhouse and Beverley Lewis House, 1991 – women with learning disabilities defending their rights.

Newham 8 and the Stardust Asian Youth Club, 1982-6  school students who took action against racist attacks and to protect their youth club

The Poor Man’s Lawyer, 1891        Newham at the forefront of the struggle for access to legal aid for working-class people

The Land Grabbers of Plaistow, 1906 the creation of a work camp on waste ground to protest against unemployment.

Thanks to Bethan Rigby, Ilona Aronovsky, Maria Xavier, Dev Barrah, Satnam Singh, Martin Spafford and Carrie Supple’s hard work researching less well known stories of community action for justice and human rights in Newham. You can download six of these stories, each with links to further information here

We can run free workshops for school groups on most days (not Mondays), geared to your needs: KS2, KS3, GCSE, A Level, History, Citizenship, RE, Social Studies, PSHCE.

For any of the above workshops – as well as details of a CPD session for teachers – contact Martin Spafford at It may also be possible to bring workshops to your school, though we would have to charge for these.

For linked singing workshops contact Jane Wheeler at

Don’t miss the launch of JtoJ Newham Music and Freedom Project, Saturday March 3rd at 3pm in the Hall, Beckton Globe Library. It’s free but booking is essential (max 4 tickets each). Please tell all your friends, family, colleagues and networks