Top chef Michel Roux welcomes aspiring young chefs to WestKing

Michelin-star chef Michel Roux welcomed newly enrolled Hospitality and Culinary Arts students and apprentices as they got a flavour of life at Westminster Kingsway College.

Around 350 aspiring chefs, hoteliers and waiters attended the event at the college’s Victoria Centre on 13 September, which included cookery demonstrations, fun games and activities and trade stands from many of the hospitality industry suppliers that work with the college.

Michel, who owns La Gavroche restaurant in Mayfair, insisted there was a job for everyone in hospitality whether in the kitchen or front of house and stressed the importance of qualifications.

He said: “This is one of the best colleges in London. The Roux family have been sending its apprentices here for 40 years. The people who train here, like your good selves, achieve greatness.

“There are lots and lots of opportunities in our industry. Whatever you choose to do, always remember to keep smiling and enjoy it, and maybe one day some of you will be working alongside me.”

The new students enjoyed plenty of fun activities including trying their hand at icing and decorating cupcakes, making a crepe suzette and mixing mocktails.

WestKing works with a wide range of culinary industry partners, many of which were represented at the event.

Students learnt about the supply of fruit and vegetables with DDP Ltd and how to blend their own smoothies using various ingredients with kitchen equipment supplier Thermomix.

The event also featured stands from the Craft Guild of Chefs, The Caterer magazine, catering suppliers Flint & Flame, Koppert Cress and Mozzo Coffee, Compass Group and HRC, an annual expo for hospitality and food service professionals.

Also present was BSG, which gives hospitality and culinary students the opportunity to gain internships at prestigious private clubs, hotels and resorts in the United States.

Students got to try Afro-Caribbean inspired flavoured ice creams from Ice Cream & Ting, started by former WestKing student Opy Odutayo, who is a chef at Mortimer House in Fitzrovia.

There was also a free to enter raffle to win prizes including two tickets to see the musical Wicked at The Apollo, a basket of fruit, a chopping board from Rough Stuff Oak, a kitchen knife from Flint & Flame, a £50 Amazon voucher and copies of In a Class of Their Own, a book on the WestKing’s hospitality and culinary school’s history.

Sam Neil, 16, who has just started a Professional Chef Level 1 Diploma, said: “I’ve been interested in cooking for a few years. One of my grandad’s friends runs a catering company and suggested I look at working in hospitality. She said if you want to be a chef you should go to WestKing. My careers adviser at school told me it’s the best college they know for hospitality.

“Being a chef involves long hours, tough work but it’s a rewarding career. You get to show what you’re about through the food, rather than sitting in an office doing work you’re not interested in.

“I’ve really enjoyed today. It’s been good to meet some chefs and get a feel for what the hospitality industry is like. I’m only in the first few weeks of training and getting the basics done, but I’m properly excited to start cooking, get to know people and about the whole college experience.”

Ellie Paphitis, also 16 and studying the same course, said: “I’ve been enjoying cooking since I was young, especially baking and making pastries. I was going to go to sixth form and do A Levels, but I changed my mind because I wanted to do something I was really passionate about. I’ve tried a lot of things, but cooking is the one thing I’ve stuck with in my life. I also have a lot of influences in my family because they like to cook as well.

“A lot of us are aspiring to be like Michel Roux and it was very motivational and inspiring to hear from him. It made me feel like I’m not so far away, and if I really try my best and work towards what I want to be, then I can do it.

“There has been lots going on today. I’ve tried some fruits, vegetables and some garnishes. I’ve not heard of any other college doing anything like this. I’ve been able to speak to other students and teachers. It’s really brought everyone together.”

The Burnt Chef Project, which provides mental health support for the UK hospitality industry, also attended the event along with other support organisations including SASH London, Mind, Insight and WestKing’s own Student Services team.

Miranda Quantrill, Curriculum Manager for Hospitality and Culinary Arts, said: “We were delighted to officially welcome our new students and apprentices starting this year, as well giving our second and third years an opportunity to network and have fun, and what could be more exciting than to have Michel Roux inspire them as they start their hospitality journey!

“The day was a hive of activity and gave students the chance to settle into life at college – which can be quite daunting if you have just left school – and to find out more about the incredible industry they will be gaining the skills and knowledge to work in over the next few years.”

Figures show that one in six new jobs created in the UK over the past year was in the hospitality sector, the equivalent of 133,000 new roles.

Find out more about out Hospitality and Culinary courses here and apprenticeship here. Enrol now.

Queen Elizabeth II: 1926 – 2022

Like a great many people here and around the world, we are saddened over the passing of Her Majesty The Queen.

During her long reign – the second longest reign of any monarch of a sovereign state – we were honoured to welcome Her Majesty to one of our colleges. And over the years, our colleges have been awarded Queen’s Anniversary Prizes, and colleagues and students were recognised in various Birthday and New Year honours lists.

Roy O’Shaughnessy, CEO of Capital City College Group said:

“It is with great sadness that we learned of the passing of Her Majesty The Queen and our deepest condolences go to the Royal Family.

“The Queen was a constant part of our lives for 70 years and her passing will affect our staff and students in different ways. We are offering support to those who may need it, for whatever reason, at this sad time.”

Visit to CANDI’s Centre for Applied Sciences

In 2011 The Queen and HRH The Duke of Edinburgh visited City and Islington College’s Centre for Applied Sciences. During the visit the Queen unveiled two plaques marking the official opening of the college’s Animal Care Centre and an accreditation by the National Skills Academy Process Industries which recognised the college as a Centre of Excellence for Biotechnology.

Her Majesty saw some of the animals at the centre and was given a tour of the college’s forensics, optics and sports science provision, which included a mock crime scene being investigated by students.

Queen’s Anniversary Prizes

Two of our colleges have been awarded the Queen’s Anniversary Prize for Higher and Further Education. These awards are presented every two years to universities and colleges that have shown excellence in quality and innovation, in providing real benefits to the world through education and training.

In 2007, CANDI received the Queen’s Anniversary Prize for Higher and Further Education for creating Pathways to Employment and Higher Education in the Sciences. At the time, City and Islington was the only college to have received this accolade twice, having previously received the award in 1994, for widening access and progression to higher education.

Westminster Kingsway College has been awarded the Queen’s Anniversary Prize for Higher and Further Education – in 2015, for collaboration and innovation in the culinary arts.  At the time, then Principal Andy Wilson said: “The award of the prize to Westminster Kingsway College is one of the greatest moments in the college’s long history. It is recognition of many staff, students and employers who have been involved with the college over the years.” In 2016 a plaque commemorating the award was unveiled at the college’s Victoria Centre.

Queen’s New Year and Birthday Honours

Here are some of our staff and alumni who have been honoured by The Queen over the years:

  • Garth Crooks – The former Tottenham Hotspur striker and BBC football pundit studied at CONEL and was awarded an OBE in 1999.
  • Timothy Spall – The Bafta-nominated actor, known for his many screen roles including five Harry Potter films, attended WestKing and received an OBE in 2000.
  • Audley Harrison – The British former super-heavyweight boxer and Olympic gold medallist attended CONEL and was awarded an MBE in 2001.
  • Trevor Nelson – The DJ and radio presenter on BBC Radio 1Xtra and BBC Radio 2 who attended WestKing, was awarded an MBE in 2002.
  • Jamie Oliver – The celebrity chef and restauranteur trained at WestKing and was made an MBE in 2003 for services to the hospitality industry.
  • Pablo Lloyd – The CEO of Visionnaires, a programme started within CCCG to help aspiring entrepreneurs start new businesses, was made an OBE in 2019.

Our deepest condolences to the Royal Family. HM Queen Elizabeth II 1926 – 2022.

Liz Truss is our new Prime Minister, but what are her views on further education and skills?

Announcements so far this year indicated that Boris Johnson’s administration understood the need to boost skills and technical education following Brexit and the COVID-19 pandemic. As a further education college group, this is very welcome, as we know how vital colleges are to the Government’s skills agenda.

But will this continue under Liz Truss’s leadership?

We’ve taken a dive into her views and actions on further education, skills and apprenticeships, during her parliamentary career.

Liz Truss is, we believe, the first Prime Minister to have attended a comprehensive school – Roundhay School in Leeds. During the leadership race she said that the quality of education she received there “let down” students, with its “low expectations, poor educational standards and lack of opportunity” – assertions which have been disputed by someone who was at the school with her. And, however poor it may have been, her schooling did help her get into Oxford University, where she read the same subject (Politics, Philosophy and Economics (PPE)) as her leadership rival Rishi Sunak.

In 2011, she expressed her opinions on technical education. She wrote in Conservative Home that England was behind other developed countries on the amount of academic training required for technical jobs. Where English and maths are only a requirement to take until 16 years old in the UK, pupils in similar countries must take them until they are 18. At the time, she said she supported an English Baccalaureate and believed this should be an option for all students.

Liz Truss has some education Ministerial experience. She was Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Education and Childcare from September 2012 to July 2014, when her responsibilities included qualifications, assessments and curriculum reform, behaviour and attendance. During her tenure, in 2013, she announced proposals to reform A Levels by scrapping AS levels and having the examinations at the end of the two-year course. She also fought to improve British standards in maths.

During the leadership race Truss ‘pitched’ herself as the “education prime minister”, saying:

“my mission in politics is to give every child, every person, the best opportunity to succeed, and for their success in life to depend solely on their hard work and talents, not their background or where they are from” – such opportunity she ‘alleges’ were not initially available to her.

Recent proposals on education

It has been reported that Truss told the 1922 committee of backbench Conservative MPs that if she became Prime Minister, she would end the ban on grammar schools. This proposal is welcomed by many – especially in the Conservative party – but there is evidence to suggest that while grammar schools may stretch brighter pupils, they increase inequality overall as the attainment of other pupils in other schools suffers.

On universities, she has proposed that all students who receive 3 A*s at A-Level to automatically be offered an interview at Oxford or Cambridge University, to make Oxbridge more accessible. This idea has already faced criticism, as those who attend private schools and the best state schools are more likely to achieve such grades – inevitably still excluding less-privileged students.

She has also stated that she would reform the university admissions system to a post-qualification admission system – meaning that students apply to university after they receive their A-Level results, rather than getting offers based off predicted grades. A post-qualification admission system has already failed to gain support in Parliament due to the additional bureaucracy and pressure on institutions and the academic calendar.

Looking forward

Mrs Truss and her new Ministerial team have a large in-tray. With the cost of living crisis raging, the NHS in trouble and the prospect of a multi-year, multi-billion pound bill to stave-off the worst effects of the energy crisis, it is perhaps not surprising that the government do not yet have a solid plan to support further education and enable it to deliver the skills that UK plc needs.

And her proposed tax cuts might make matters worse. According to the Institute for Fiscal Studies, the proposed tax cuts and corporate tax incentives, will initially lead to a loss of at least £30billion per year in tax receipts – losses which will probably not be offset by the rise in investment that she anticipates would result.

At CCCG we will be sure to engage with the new Prime Minister, as well as her new Secretary of State for Education Kit Malthouse (welcome to the best job in Government!) and his education Ministerial team – to do all we can to share with them the importance of further education to the future skills of our population and our nation’s success.

Three asks that we think should be on the new PM’s desk, addressing further education and skills are:

  1. Free courses for adults up to Level 4
  2. Allowing for greater operational freedom for further education colleges to help them to be more financially sustainable organisations
  3. A real focus on apprenticeships and reforming the apprenticeship levy, to make apprenticeships more accessible to Small and Medium Enterprise (SMEs) and students.

We are hosting a breakfast event at the Conservative Party Conference on Monday 3rd October in partnership with BusinessLDN (formally London First). We have invited key Conservative stakeholders, education providers and businesses to discuss levelling up and the skills agenda, so we look forward to these conversations and where the attendees see the education and skills sector going forward.

CANDI becomes first London college to offer new Access to Policing course

City and Islington College (CANDI) has become the first college in London to offer a new Access to Higher Education Diploma in Policing to support recruitment to the Metropolitan Police.

The diploma covers key topics for the modern police service, such as ethics, values, communication skills and evidence-based policing. The course also has a section focusing on the importance of community policing and includes additional units on criminology, law and sociology.

The course will give students the skills and knowledge to apply for a Police Constable Degree Apprenticeship or other higher education policing programmes.

Students who complete the diploma and successfully apply to join the Met though the apprenticeship may be eligible for reimbursement of a percentage of course fees.

Nigel Lewis, Curriculum Leader for Public Services, said: “London is one of the most exciting and diverse cities in the world and policing it is no easy task, but I know from my own experience as a former Met Police officer it is one of the most rewarding careers you can have.

“It takes a huge number of people from all sorts of different backgrounds with a wide range of skills and experience to police London. Many people have the potential to be great police officers but don’t yet have the entry qualifications to apply to be a police constable.

“As a police constable, you’ll have the opportunity to make a positive difference to the lives of Londoners every day. You’ll build relationships with local communities, reduce crime, support victims and keep people safe. No day is ever the same but every day you’ll have the satisfaction of knowing that what you do has made a real difference to the lives of Londoners.”

Access courses are for people aged 19 or over who want to apply to university or other higher education courses but do not have entry qualifications such as A Levels or BTECs, or those seeking a career chance.

The Access to Policing diploma is a nationally recognised qualification and has been developed by the Met and awarding body OCN London.

There are no specified formal entry requirements but there is an expectation that students will have literacy, communication skills and numeracy at Level 2, equivalent to GCSE, or above.

Superintendent Tamsin Jones, Head of the Met Police’s Centre of Initial Recruit Training, who joined as a direct-entry superintendent just over five years ago, said: “London’s communities need more police officers who are as diverse as them, who understand them and who have a real desire to make everyone safer.

“Many people we speak to have a wealth of life experience and other skillsets that would make them fantastic police officers, but they don’t yet have the educational qualifications needed to apply for a career in policing.

“This course is designed specifically for them. The new diploma in policing was jointly developed by experienced Met Police officers and education experts, to help people gain the qualifications and confidence they need to apply to join the Met.

“I truly believe that policing is one of the most fulfilling careers in the world. Each day is different, each shift is challenging and every moment is an opportunity for you to change someone’s life for the better.”

Find out more and apply for the Access to Higher Education Diploma in Policing here.

For more information about Met Police careers click here.

‘This trip has changed my life’ – students inspired after visit to South Korea

Students immersed themselves in South Korean culture and discovered more about the country’s growing tech and green economy on an ‘unforgettable’ trip of a lifetime.

Thirty students from across Capital City College Group (CCCG) went on the three-week trip funded by the Turing Scheme, the UK’s global work and study programme, and found out there’s much more to South Korea than K-pop and Squid Game.

Staff and students from Keimyung College University (KMCU) in the southern city of Daegu welcomed the students who were paired with Korean ‘buddies’ to show them around and give them a chance to practise their Korean.

Before the trip students took lessons in Korean and visited the Korean Cultural Centre UK in London to discover more about the country’s culture, history and traditions.

The students continued to learn Korean on the trip and took part in activities including learning taekwondo and visiting the Gyeonju National Museum and surrounding national park.

They also tried many traditional dishes including dotori-muk, an acorn jelly, and chalbori-ppang, a barley bread, and later made rice cakes and tofu in the village of Danglin.

Students travelled to JEI University in Incheon and Kyungbuk College in Yeongju to see the latest advances in Industry 4.0, the development of automation using smart technology, and the green sector. They worked alongside their Korean peers to research and deliver presentations on how they and their colleges can tackle climate change and what can be done in the UK and Korea.

The trip also included visits to the Yecheon Astro-Space Center and Korea Radioactive Waste Agency.

Rania Abdi, 18, an A Level student at Westminster Kingsway College, said: “My three weeks in South Korea made such a huge impact on me. I’ve learnt more about the green agenda and climate action, how to understand and navigate an entirely new culture and formed friendships I will value for the rest of my life.

“I am extremely grateful for this experience and will forever cherish the memories created from my short yet sweet time spent in South Korea.”

The Korean Tourism Organization secured tickets for the students to watch Tottenham Hotspur’s pre-season friendly against K-League XI, a team of players from the Korean football league, and to see Cookin’ Nanta, the country’s longest running theatrical show.

Students also visited South Korea’s capital Seoul and took a bus tour of the sights. They were also invited to Korean Polytechnics’ artificial intelligence and engineering facilities in the city.

Sylvia Lafford, 18, a Creative Media student at Westminster Kingsway College, said: “This trip has changed my life. I always wanted to study an East Asian language and learn more about their culture. Over the next few years, I’m going to study Korean and potentially apply to a university in Seoul.

“I’ve made some amazing friends who made this trip unforgettable. Overall, it’s made me more confident in myself, but most importantly it has broadened my horizons for my future. It will stay with me for a very long time.”

CCCG comprises City and Islington College, Westminster Kingsway College and the College of Haringey, Enfield and North East London, and apprenticeship and training provider Capital City College Training.

Seungeun Chang, Head of International Development and Operations, said: “This was our first trip under the new Turing Scheme and was an incredible and fascinating adventure for all the students, who fully immersed themselves in the Korean culture, language and lifestyle.

“Our hosts at KMCU, JEI University and Kyungbuk College warmly welcomed us all. They arranged so many wonderful experiences for our students, from learning about Korea’s growing technology and green sectors to trying taekwondo and visiting museums and parks. I cannot thank them enough for their kindness and hospitality throughout our visit.

“Each and every one of the students on the trip has told us how much they enjoyed it and how much it will stay with them for the rest of their lives.

“We look forward to continuing to build our relationships with Korea and planning similar trips to other countries through this valuable scheme.”

CANDI students feature in STEAM special in Islington Tribune

CANDI students feature in STEAM special in Islington Tribune

Students from City and Islington College (CANDI) have shared their views on education in science and engineering in the Islington Tribune and Camden New Journal.

Cheyanne Kusi, Nikolas Vasilev and Ali Girgin appeared in an eight-page special focused on Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics (STEAM) this summer.

They featured in two articles in the pull-out, which was sponsored by MSD, Google, SOAS, SOAS University of London. Camden Council, Camden Learning and Camden STEAM.

Both articles also appeared on the Islington Tribune and Camden New Journal websites.

Cheyanne, 16, who is studying A Level Physics, responded to recent parliamentary debate on why there has been a decline in female students taking the subject.

She said: “I imagine girls are put off the subject because they mostly see white middle-class men as the figureheads of the subject. If you only see people like them doing the subject and not people that look like you, you’re probably less likely to want to do it.”

Her comments were taken from an earlier article on the CANDI website after similar concerns were highlighted to MPs here: ‘We need to be spreading awareness of more female scientists’

Read the Islington Tribune article here: STEAM: Don’t ‘fancy’ science? I’m afraid you couldn’t be any more wrong

Nikolas and Ali, both 18, have just completed an Engineering Level 3 Diploma and are heading to university this September.

They explained why they chose a vocational course as an alternative to A Levels.

Nikolas said: “In a way A Levels are considered more difficult because they are exam-based. With BTECs you have assignments that you can improve on and resubmit them after two weeks. So you can end up with higher grades and still go to the same university as someone who did A Levels.”

Read the Islington Tribune article here: STEAM: BTECs aren’t what you think – they got us on the path to university

Whether you are more suited to A Levels or vocational qualifications or unsure which pathway to take, at CANDI we’ll help you make the right decision to have the best chance of success at university and your chosen career.

Apply now for A Levels here and Engineering courses here.

CANDI students and staff enjoy fun day to celebrate cultural diversity

Students and staff at City and Islington College (CANDI) celebrated their differences when they enjoyed a fun-packed culture day to mark the end of the academic year.

The vibrant and colourful event was suggested by students as part of the college’s You Said, We Did initiative and took place at its Centre for Lifelong Learning in Finsbury Park.

Many students and staff came to college dressed in the traditional costumes of their home countries or cultural background and performed national dances.

They also played games and posed for pictures in a giant photo frame and enjoyed tasty treats including popcorn, cupcakes and fruit kebabs.

The day also included a raffle for Children in Need with 16 prizes up for grabs.

Student Engagement Officer Roz Miah said: “The weather was beautiful, everyone had lots of fun. My special thanks to the students and the members of student services team who supported and helped to create the event.”

CANDI offers a wide programme of enrichment activities throughout the year.

Find out more about Student Life at the college here.

CANDI teacher set to carry the Queen’s Baton and officiate at Commonwealth Games

When former Team GB weightlifter Dyana Altenor received a call inviting her to carry the Queen’s Baton for the Commonwealth Games as part of the Platinum Jubilee, the memories of her career in what was considered a male-dominated sport at the time came flooding back.

Unfortunately, Dyana was judging a weightlifting a competition in Albania and was unable to join the royal celebrations, but to her surprise the opportunity presented itself again when she was invited to carry the baton at Tonbridge Castle in Kent on 7 July ahead of the Games, where she will be officiating in the weightlifting later this month.

Dyana, from Tower Hamlets, is a Lecturer in Public Services at City and Islington College (CANDI), which includes providing fitness training to students looking to get into the Armed Forces, emergency services, security, prison service and other related careers.  It’s not too a far cry from her start in sports development, supporting teams of boys to take part in the London Youth Games.

Determined to prove that she too could excel as a weightlifter, she sought advice from coach George Manners, who represented Great Britain at the 1960 Tokyo Olympics in the light-heavyweight category. After speaking with him, he told her, “Go for it, give it a go.”  

In 1962 and 1966, George had won silver medals at what was then called the British Empire and Commonwealth Games. Having the backing of someone who had competed at the highest level was a huge boost and Dyana wanted to emulate George’s success and bring home the medals.

Forty years ago, weightlifting was a predominantly male environment, and any female donning a weightlifting belt was often called a body builder. They were simply not recognised as a weightlifter, let alone a potential Olympic contender. Official forms of female strength sports didn’t come to the fore until powerlifting started in 1978. Women were only allowed to compete at the World Weightlifting Championships for the first time in 1987.

Undeterred, Dyana stepped forward to make her mark in the sport, and prove she was ready for the big stage. At times it was psychologically challenging, and the training was relentless, six days a week, whilst holding down a day job.

When Dyana competed in the Commonwealth Games in 2002, it was the first time women had competed in weightlifting in the Games. Now, 20 years later, she is heading back to officiate in Birmingham where 72 nations will be hoping to take home a clutch of medals.

After Dyana retired from competing she naturally progressed into officiating. Several colleagues, coaches and even the team doctor often suggested she do the training, which takes five years to become an international referee.

Armed with the weapons to succeed, not least her vast experience and knowledge, it was the obvious next step. Her passion, dedication and love of the sport never waned, and she knew her life would always feature weightlifting in one way or another.

“Officiating is incredibly exciting, from the moment you arrive at the venue you can sense the anticipation hanging in the air, and the atmosphere when the crowds get involved is something I will never forget,” she said.

“Each competitor has three attempts at the snatch, and the clean and jerk for each of the weight divisions. If their arms are bent, and not fully locked out, it’s a no-lift.  Any overruling must be decided by a jury to ultimately make the final decision.”

Dyana is looking forward to refereeing in Birmingham later this month, the third Commonwealth Games to be hosted in England following London in 1934 and Manchester in 2002. Team GB have some impressive female talent in the weightlifting, and Dyana is hoping to see the likes of Emily Campbell, Fraer Morrow, Zoe Smith and Deborah Alawode on the podium.

“They’re a young team, but we have Emily leading the pack, I think they will do well for us,” she said.

Being back at the Commonwealth Games will be an emotional occasion for Dyana, a flashback to her first Games in 2002 when she couldn’t quite understand how she had got to that stage. She recalls that she had an overwhelming feeling of doubt – could she do it and was she good enough? She remembers realigning her mindset, telling herself she could do it, she had put in the hours, done the brutal training regime, and deserved to be there.

On being invited to carry the Queen’s Baton, Dyana said: “I was surprised when I received the call. I had been nominated, although the nomination was anonymous, I will never know who put my name forward, but it’s such an honour and I will carry the baton with pride.”

After a couple of challenging years enduring the pandemic, Dyana is ready to snatch the chance to be back in front of the weightlifting stage, doing what she does best.

Dyana is also a proud member of our Public Services lecturing team – helping students learn the skills to secure well-paid jobs in the public services. These are some of society’s most essential roles, including the police, ambulance, paramedics, the fire service, the prison service and the Armed Forces. 

Our courses provide a comprehensive overview of how these services are run, giving you the knowledge and skills needed to work in the sector.

Find out more about Public Services courses and apply here.

Student joins UK refugee choir for performance with Elbow at Glastonbury

An Afghan student at City and Islington College (CANDI) was among the singers in a UK refugee choir who joined Elbow on stage at Glastonbury.

Kazim Husseini, 19, performed with the Citizens of the World Choir when they joined the Manchester band on the Pyramid Stage, at the end of Refugee Week on Sunday.

The choir sang backing vocals to Elbow’s uplifting anthem One Day Like This, which they also performed during the band’s set at the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee Party at the Palace.

During their Glastonbury appearance, they were joined by Little Amal, a 3.5m puppet of a 10-year-old Syrian refugee, who has become a symbol of human rights after touring the UK and Europe.

Earlier the same day they choir opened the Avalon Stage and performed their own set of songs from around the world including a Ukrainian song Shchedryck and Turkish folk song Çayır Çimen.

Kazim, who came to the UK via Greece in January 2020 and now lives in Hackney, is studying an English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) course at CANDI.

“Wow, it was amazing on the Pyramid Stage with Elbow and seeing thousands and thousands of people watching and singing along with us. I felt very lucky going up on the stage and singing.

“It was very exciting. I wasn’t just happy, I was super happy! I felt very lucky to be singing on stage. It was a very special moment and something I will remember for the rest of my life.”

Kazim and the choir had the chance to meet Elbow and have their photo taken with them ahead of their performances at Glastonbury and the Platinum Jubilee.

On performing at the jubilee party, Kazim said: “When I took it all in, it was like a shock but just wow. There were so many people from the Queen’s family and the government, and everybody watching me with all their flags. It was an amazing experience.”

The Citizens of the World Choir, based in Greenwich, comprises 50 members representing nearly 30 countries worldwide and was formed following the closure of the Calais Jungle in 2009.

Kazim joined the choir after hearing about it through another Afghan refugee he met in Greece, which he said had helped him settle into the UK.

“When I arrived in the UK for the first time, I lived in a hostel and was thinking ‘what can I do?’ because I have a lot of time and don’t have many friends here. I love singing and talking to people and so I joined the choir,” he said.

“It has really helped me. I’ve made lot of friends in the choir I can share any problem or stress with them, which is helping me because I do not have any family here. Some in the choir are now like family to me.”

Kazim admitted he had found it hard at first to adjust to living in the UK but was now happy here and enjoying learning English at CANDI.

I like college. The course is very good for me and my education. I didn’t speak any English when I started here. My teacher is very good at helping me and I’m not missing a day,” he said.

Our ESOL courses are perfect for anyone who does not speak English as their first language. Find out more and apply here.

Students question experts on knife crime and lack of funding for youth services

Students had the opportunity to voice their concerns about knife crime and youth services to a panel of experts during a debate at City and Islington College (CANDI).

Questions were put to representatives from the Metropolitan Police, The Ben Kinsella Trust, Godwin Lawson Foundation, StreetDoctors and IOTC Solutions on 14 June.

The discussion covered racism and under-representation in the Met, tackling violent crime and prevention, stop and search, exploitation and safeguarding, community projects for young people and the need for investment in youth services.

Inspector Ross Hickman, who heads up the Met’s Youth Engagement Team in Islington, said improvements were being made to stop and search following an independent review.

He said: “Stop and search in London is always criticised that it is not used in the right way and people are racially targeted.

“We continue to work with people about how we use stop and search, to make sure we are using it correctly. It’s a real policing power, we wouldn’t be protecting you if we didn’t use it, but I do accept some of the criticism it has had.

“I don’t believe that the Met is institutionally racist, but I absolutely get the fear in London that we are using it [stop and search] in that context,” he said.

Dr Angela Herbert MBE, who runs coaching and mentoring company IOTC Solutions and is also Chair of the Violent Crime Prevention Board, called for more transparency from the Met.

She said: “This is about developing and creating credibility of the police. Once there is credibility, then we can start building trust. When you are on the receiving side of policing, and it’s not done correctly, it causes problems and has a negative impact.”

Dr Herbert, who is also a governor of Capital City College Group (CCCG), which includes CANDI, warned that many young people caught with knives and end up in custody are often the exploited victims of organised crime.

This was echoed by Frances Breeveld, Communications and Policy Officer at StreetDoctors, a national charity that teaches lifesaving skills to young people to keep themselves and others safe.

She called for more investment in youth services and the need for early intervention to prevent youth crime and protect young people.

“A lot of the problems caused are because there aren’t safe spaces for young people, especially after school. I was talking to a police officer who said 4pm was when they had the most violent incidents,” she said.

“We hear from young people all the time about how important after school clubs and youth clubs are and how important good youth workers are, as role models, trusted people who are able to support and guide.”

Patrick Green, CEO of The Ben Kinsella Trust, a charity which campaigns to prevent knife crime, said successive governments had failed to tackle knife crime.

He said: “If we want to stop youth violence and knife crime and build a better future, we have to start by investing in young people.

“That starts with putting in services and recreational activities for young people, and it starts by also giving young people a pathway into meaningful employment, which is critical for social change and mobility. There’s a lot that needs to be done.”

Yvonne Godwin, CEO and founder of the Godwin Lawson Foundation, which aims to reduce knife crime and encourage young people to fulfil their potential, called for police to show more “cultural awareness and empathy” in the communities they serve.

She spoke about a programme being run at CANDI’s sister college, the College of Haringey, Enfield and North East London (CONEL), to encourage young people to get involved in their community by befriending and being a role model to children in schools.

Sergeant Tony Quinn said the Met had been working with London boroughs on schemes such as Safe Havens, where public places like shops and cafés provide refuge and support for people in danger.

He added that force was also working with young people on crime prevention through role-playing sessions and has also funded a boxing club at Sobell Leisure Centre in Islington.

Insp Hickman said the Mayor of London’s office has promised an additional £25 million to keep streets safer, including tackling violence against women and youth violence.

“There’s always so much more that we can be doing but with Government funding there’s always a struggle as there is often not enough to go around,” he said.

“What is key is that we continue to work together with you to make sure we’re doing the right thing.”

CANDI offers a wide range of enrichment activities throughout each academic year including talks, workshops, careers fairs, and clubs and societies.

Find out more about Student Life here.