The City Circle is an open circle for open minds

In November, we bid farewell to Rameez Kaleem who will be stepping down as Chair and Trustee of the City Circle.

Rameez joined the City Circle Saturday School as a teacher in 2005 and subsequently managed the school as Head Teacher from 2011 to 2013. He was appointed as Chair of the City Circle in 2014 and has worked tirelessly to strengthen and promote the charity's projects. In 2013, he set up the successful homelessness project in partnership with Children of Adam, and in 2014 he established the partnership with St James' Winter Shelter. In addition, he has led City Circle's programme of regular talks, providing a forum for people to discuss and inform others about topics which often are not discussed elsewhere.

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(Photo - 150 hot meals being handed out by the City Circle and Children of Adam soup kitchen)

If Charles Dickens were alive today, he’d be living on a council estate with his seven siblings, a single mum and a daily struggle to make ends meet. His dad in prison for unresolved debt, he’d have left school early to support the family by working part-time at a high street shop, earning the minimum wage. And in between cigarette breaks, he’d find the time to write about issues that mattered to him including children's rights, poverty and other social issues.

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Islamophobia. The fear of Islam. Or as Wikipedia describes it "prejudice against, hatred towards, or fear of the religion of Islam or Muslims". Sounds simple enough on the surface and quite clearly wrong but in recent years there has been an increasing level of Islamophobic activity in the UK and elsewhere. I think Muslims in the UK are actually luckier on this front than their counterparts in a number of other developed countries where religious freedoms are harder to come by. The UK has a long history of openness to new cultures and beliefs - mostly due to it's imperial past but that's a whole other story for another day.

Islamophobia comes in many forms, both hidden and blatant, and all are wrong. Whether it's the ignorant petition campaigns against
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I'm going to make a bold claim: people rarely discuss death. It's something that every last person on this planet is destined to experience yet I think in modern society the concept of death and the transient nature of life has been pushed far, far down the list of topics people are comfortable discussing. Maybe it has always been so but while I have no idea if mortality has ever been a dinner-table conversation, it's certainly true that in times gone by death was a much more regular event and much more a part of people's everyday lives.

As an example, churches were once the centre of the community - the place where
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