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Life wasn’t easy growing up. Everything we had, we worked for.

I was born in the Punjab and moved to Redbridge with my parents when I was 7 years old.

I had a simple upbringing, my mum worked from home sewing ties and I along with my siblings completed the workforce at home whilst my Dad worked at a tin factory.

We were an ordinary immigrant family with a story familiar to many other Ilford residents and like many of my neighbours, moving here changed our lives for the better.

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Ilford has given me and my family everything I have.

We were a working class family in a working class neighbourhood. We didn’t have privileges or contacts. We had to do it ourselves, the hard way.

We moved here with very little and found a welcoming home, an excellent education, job opportunities for my parents and most importantly, we found a better future for our family.

I believe we all deserve the same opportunities I was given at just 7 years old. Every family should feel confident that their children will get the best education at their local school.

Everyone of working age should feel optimistic about their future careers and we should all feel safe and welcome in the country we call home.

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I learnt the value of hard work helping my mother sew neck ties with my brother and sister after school and watching my Dad go off to the factory early every morning.

I pushed myself and had a good career teaching computer security before opening my own children’s nurseries with my wife in 2006.

I was content raising my children and running our new family business, but I couldn’t help but look around me and see the inequality and unfair society we were a part of.

I have always been part of an active community and I saw that community suffering from stagnating wages, underfunded vital services and a welfare system which was at breaking point.

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Public service, or Seva, Sikhs call it, has always been a core principle in my family.

Some of my earliest memories are of helping my parents serve food to the homeless at our local Gurdwara – something we did every week throughout my childhood.

So, when I saw the damaging local Conservative policies, shutting down our libraries, underfunding adult social care, and skyrocketing levels of homelessness, I knew I had to act.

Since I was elected, first as a councillor and then as leader of the Labour Group, I have committed myself completely to serving my home and my community.

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I put the work in and helped transform the area, investing in infrastructure, improving services, and leading Redbridge to become one of the most cost-effective councils in the UK.

When I first became leader of the Labour Group in November 2011, Redbridge was a Conservative stronghold and Ilford South had Conservative and LibDem councillors.

By 2014 Labour had taken control of the Council for the first time in its history.

By 2018 we had all but wiped out the opposition, winning 51 out of 63 seats – with Ilford South now a Tory free zone and no Liberal Democrats in the borough.

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I care deeply about this area, my neighbours and my friends, and I am determined to do everything I can to improve the lives of everyone in Ilford South.

Ilford South residents deserve an alternative to the near decade of austerity we have endured under successive Conservative governments.

We deserve better than closing hospitals and overstretched schools. We deserve better than the politics of hate and division spread by Tories and government funded buses telling immigrants they are not welcome.

I have delivered as the Leader of Redbridge Council and now I am ready to step up and fight for my neighbours as the next Labour MP for Ilford South.

Short biography

Born in the Punjab

1970

Started Primary School

1980

Worked at McKenzie and Tapp tin manufacturers Romford

2006

Became a Councillor in Mayfield ward

2014

Won the election for Labour

2018

1963

Arrived in Ilford

1970

Worked at the sorting office in Angel, Romford

1981

Opened first children’s nursery

2010

Became the leader of the Council

2014

Drove out every Tory Councillor from Ilford South

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ICYMI: New homeless centre is now open in Ilford! ... See MoreSee Less

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3 days ago

Jas Athwal - Leader of Redbridge Council

A brand new five-million-pound centre to help tackle homelessness in Ilford, East London, has opened its doors to help those in need of a roof over their heads.

Project Malachi is a joint venture funded to the tune of £5million by The Salvation Army and Redbridge Council. The building is made up of 42 self-contained flats, finished and decorated to provide safe and comfortable homes.

It has been named Malachi Place in recognition of Malachi Justin, a ten-year-old boy who became concerned about people sleeping rough in Ilford. When his first baby tooth fell out at the age of five-years-old, Malachi gave his £5 tooth fairy money to the local Salvation Army, along with a note asking them to spend it on helping homeless people.

Five years later, this little boy's dream of a better future for rough sleepers is a reality with the opening of new pioneering homeless complex on Monday 24 February.

Starting with the tooth fairy money, a further £350,000 was raised from local fundraising and charitable trusts. The Salvation Army topped that up to £2.5 million in funding and running costs for the next five years. Redbridge Council provided the land free of charge and funded a further £2.5m to pay for construction.

Among the first residents moving into Malachi Place will be Frank Wrona, aged 40, a recovering addict originally from the north of England who has been sleeping rough on and off for three years. Since taking control of his addictions, Frank has been desperate to find a place to live and get a permanent job. Frank said: “I just want to get settled and move on with my life so getting a room at Malachi Place gets me one step closer to achieving that.”

Malachi Place will provide year-round accommodation and support for people who have been sleeping rough. The Salvation Army will provide specialist 24-hour on-site support for residents to help them deal with the many issues that led them to sleeping rough, like domestic violence, childhood trauma, relationship breakdown, as well as mental ill health.

The flats were fitted out off site and lifted into position by crane to create the four-storey building. Each flat has a bed/sitting room with its own cooking facilities and private toilet and shower. There is also a bicycle workshop which will open in May where residents can learn skills to help them find a job.
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3 days ago

Jas Athwal - Leader of Redbridge Council

ICYMI: A brand new five-million-pound centre to help tackle homelessness in Ilford, East London, has opened its doors to help those in need of a roof over their heads.

www.salvationarmy.org.uk/child%E2%80%99s-tooth-fairy-wish-grants-homes-homeless-peopleThis morning, I had the privilege of opening this new £5 million homeless centre in Ilford Town Centre. Project Malachi - a pop up hostel & workshop for Ilford is a joint venture between Redbridge Council and the Salvation Army to house and provide support to rough sleepers.

I am proud to say the Council provided the land free of charge and funded the construction project with £2.5 million. Across the country, rough sleeping has increased by 165% in the last ten years. We've seen the impact of this increase on our streets in Ilford and that's why addressing rough sleeping is a top priority for my administration.

Read more here: www.salvationarmy.org.uk/child%E2%80%99s-tooth-fairy-wish-grants-homes-homeless-people
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