Susan's Musings

Just Thinking Out Loud

Reflecting on 7th July… In 2005 and 2013.

Today, the 7th July 2013 marks the 8th anniversary of the London bombing by four terrorists. It’s also the morning that we wake up to the news that Abu Qateda has finally been deported from the UK.  In addition to the news of suicide bombings in Uruzgan, Southern Afghanistan; Baghdad, Iraq; and  Lahore, Pakistan, there was a report of at least 29 pupils and a teacher being killed in a boarding school in North Eastern Nigeria.

Whilst I recognise that these acts of terrorism are perpetuated on the basis of these people’s definition of Islam, I really  and truly wish that we would stop calling them Islamists. I believe by doing so we almost begin to give their acts some justification or even credibility. As a Christian, I cannot speak on behalf of Muslims. However, on the basis of my understanding of Islam and interaction with Muslims over the years, I don’t believe that terrorism is a true representation of Islam. I therefore believe that by connecting terrorism to Islam and calling the terrorist, Islamist or Islamic extremist we inevitably end up avoiding the need to take the time to really and truly understand and define the root causes of these terrorist act.

More critically, however, I believe today is a time to pause and reflect on the victims of such acts.  I could try and search for the right words to express the sadness, the grief and loss as a result of such events.  However, there is someone who has a direct, personal experience that I believe expresses the situation much better. Her name is Marie Fatayi-Williams, the mother of Anthony Fatayi-Williams.

“This is Anthony, Anthony Fatayi -Williams, 26 years old, he’s missing and we fear that he was in the bus explosion … on Thursday. We don’t know. We do know from the witnesses that he left the Northern line in Euston. We know he made a call to his office at Amec at 9.41 from the NW1 area to say he could not make [it] by the tube but he would find alternative means to work.

Since then he has not made any contact with any single person. Now New York, now Madrid, now London. There has been widespread slaughter of innocent people. There have been streams of tears, innocent tears. There have been rivers of blood, innocent blood. Death in the morning, people going to find their livelihood, death in the noontime on the highways and streets.

They are not warriors. Which cause has been served? Certainly not the cause of God, not the cause of Allah because God Almighty only gives life and is full of mercy. Anyone who has been misled, or is being misled to believe that by killing innocent people he or she is serving God should think again because it’s not true. Terrorism is not the way, terrorism is not the way. It doesn’t beget peace. We can’t deliver peace by terrorism, never can we deliver peace by killing people. Throughout history, those people who have changed the world have done so without violence, they have [won] people to their cause through peaceful protest. Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King, Mahatma Gandhi, their discipline, their self-sacrifice, their conviction made people turn towards them, to follow them. What inspiration can senseless slaughter provide? Death and destruction of young people in their prime as well as old and helpless can never be the foundations for building society.

My son Anthony is my first son, my only son, the head of my family. In African society, we hold on to sons. He has dreams and hopes and I, his mother, must fight to protect them. This is now the fifth day, five days on, and we are waiting to know what happened to him and I, his mother, I need to know what happened to Anthony. His young sisters need to know what happened, his uncles and aunties need to know what happened to Anthony, his father needs to know what happened to Anthony. Millions of my friends back home in Nigeria need to know what happened to Anthony. His friends surrounding me here, who have put this together, need to know what has happened to Anthony. I need to know, I want to protect him. I’m his mother, I will fight till I die to protect him. To protect his values and to protect his memory.

Innocent blood will always cry to God Almighty for reparation. How much blood must be spilled? How many tears shall we cry? How many mothers’ hearts must be maimed? My heart is maimed. I pray I will see my son, Anthony. Why? I need to know, Anthony needs to know, Anthony needs to know, so do many others unaccounted for innocent victims, they need to know.

It’s time to stop and think. We cannot live in fear because we are surrounded by hatred. Look around us today. Anthony is a Nigerian, born in London, worked in London, he is a world citizen. Here today we have Christians, Muslims, Jews, Sikhs, Hindus, all of us united in love for Anthony. Hatred begets only hatred. It is time to stop this vicious cycle of killing. We must all stand together, for our common humanity. I need to know what happened to my Anthony. He’s the love of my life. My first son, my first son, 26. He tells me one day, “Mummy, I don’t want to die, I don’t want to die. I want to live, I want to take care of you, I will do great things for you, I will look after you, you will see what I will achieve for you. I will make you happy.’ And he was making me happy. I am proud of him, I am still very proud of him but I need to now where he is, I need to know what happened to him. I grieve, I am sad, I am distraught, I am destroyed.

He didn’t do anything to anybody, he loved everybody so much. If what I hear is true, even when he came out of the underground he was directing people to take buses, to be sure that they were OK. Then he called his office at the same time to tell them he was running late. He was a multi-purpose person, trying to save people, trying to call his office, trying to meet his appointments. What did he then do to deserve this. Where is he, someone tell me, where is he?”



Susan Popoola runs Conning Towers Ltd, an HR organisation focused on Talent Management and HR Transformation and Engaged For Success a Social Enterprise. She is also the published author of Touching The Heart of Milton Keynes: A Social Perspective and Consequences: Diverse to Mosaic Britain. She is also Winner Women4Africa Author of the Year 2013


Copyright 2013. This document is the specific intellectual property of Susan Popoola. Content may not be reused or reproduced without the specific permission of the owner or a reference to the source. Opinions may be generated





The Rotherham Foster Case

I followed the media frenzy regarding the Rotherham Council fostering case yesterday.  I refer to it as the Rotherham Fostering case as opposed to the UKIP case as it wasn’t really about UKIP or at least it shouldn’t have been.

I’m not an expert in this area but I know that the Council should have a process for assessing the suitability of foster parents.  I would venture to add that aside from the fact that foster carers are unlikely to want to look after children who come from a background that they have strong prejudices against, assessments should be designed to pick up such prejudices. (People don’t have to belong to a political party to hold racist opinions)

So against this backdrop I find myself pondering the appropriateness of Rotherham Council’s actions in this case.

  • I’m not a UKIP Supporter but I’m mindful of the fact that UKIP is a legal political party.  I haven’t done a full analysis of their policy, but I understand that they believe that there is a need for controlled immigration due to pressure that immigration places on our services.  It might sound like mere symantics, but I would say that rather than controlled immigration we need better managed immigration – there is already a degree of control anyway.  Besides which whilst immigration may come with its problems, it also brings benefits and over the years it has also provided us with solutions as well.
  • But back to the point of the Rotherham foster carers, let’s say for a minute that UKIP is a terrible racist political party with some unacceptable policies even though it is a legal party; I know from research that there is a reality that people join political parties for different reasons.  They don’t necessarily agree with all of their policies. It’s just as we at times vote for candidates even though we might not agree with everything they say. Similarly from an HR perspective when selecting candidates there may be one or two things we dislike about a candidate, but we tend to focus on what a candidate will bring overall and consider how we can mitigate any issues that may arise from the things we dislike or are concerned about.
  • I therefore believe that in the Rotherham Foster case, the parents that the children were (at least on the face of things) comfortably living with should have been interviewed or re-accessed to determine whether they held views or beliefs that would have a negative impact on the children.  This should have been backed with interviews of the children.

Sadly it seems that a rushed decision was made without any thought for how the move would affect the children. Young people who had possibly already gone through the trauma of a move from one country to another; problems in relation to their parents; and who knows – possibly a number of moves leading up to their more recent placement.


Copyright 2012. This document is the specific intellectual property of Susan Popoola. Content may not be reused or reproduced without the specific permission of the owner or a reference to the source. Opinions may be generated

The Good and Bad in Us ALL

When the Jimmy Savile scandal first broke, I had no idea how bad things were, but I knew there were bad – the abuse of anyone is bad, the abuse of a child is heinous. So for someone to abuse numerous young people over an extended period of time with impunity ….. words cannot express.

It’s also astounding that normally when someone is accused of a crime – even if they are caught red handed the crimes are referred to as allegations until proven in a court of law. I know Savile is dead and cannot be tried, but even though people may question the extent of his crimes, people are quite categoric about his guilt.

Even his nephew, Roger Foster who originally started of by stating that “The guy hasn’t been dead for a year yet and they’re bringing these stories out. It could affect his legacy, his charity work, everything. I’m very sad and disgusted,” has now come to a different conclusion.

He is now quoted as having stated that, “I cannot understand for the life of me how a guy that did so much good in his life – with the work that he did, his charity work, his trusts, the people that he helped – could have such a dark side to him that nobody knew about.”

Going on to state that “I have this memory of what the man was like, what he meant to me as a person. I still have part of me proud of him, not proud of the way things have turned out, but proud of the things that he did in trying to help other people.  I am so absolutely devastated and disappointed that this dark side is the side that he will be remembered for.”

The only thing is whilst his nephew has now reached the point of accepting the wrong that he’s uncle did, he still talk about a part of him that is still proud of Savile.  I guess this is because of the good that he did.  The only thing is the more that is revealed the more the question arises as to whether there was actually much good in Jimmy Savile as he’s motives are now questionable. Was he really out to Fix It and make the wishes of children come true or was he just using the programme as a means to evil ends?

This question is heightened by a statement of Paul Gambaccini a Radio DJ  who stated that “On another occasion, and this cuts to the chase of the whole matter, he was called and he said ‘well you could run that story, but if you do there goes the funds that come in to Stoke Mandeville – do you want to be responsible for the drying up of the charity donations’. And they backed down.”

It’s not just the threat, it’s what we choose to believe – can someone that does so much good, do wrong, such that Esther Rantzen stated “You see, one child’s word against the word of a television icon, one who was renowned for raising money for charity, who knew everyone from the Prime Minister to Princess Diana, who was knighted by the Queen and the Pope, I think no single complainant dared speak out before.”

It actually goes further, a couple of weeks back, I met an older lady at a supermarket. We ended up talking about the case.  She mentioned that she had met Savile several times as she had a son at Stoke Mandeville Hospital. She went on to say, there was also something about him that she didn’t like that led her to avoid him, she went on to comment on the evil that he did – concluding on the note – but he did so much good – he was just a great philantrophist.

It reminds me of the comment that someone interviewed made about Lance Armstrong following on from the revelations about him – “I’m disappointed in him but I still think he’s one heck of an athlete”

The truth is yes, there is good and bad in all of us and it should be acknowledged, but when I see the media continuing to show photographs of Savile with a grin and/or swaggering around with a cigar drooping from his mouth i.e. the celebrity image.  I wonder whether they have truly come to terms with the gravity of his crimes.  After all, when someone is accused of a crime, the media normally look for the ugliest possible photo of the person that they can find so that people know how evil the person is – even though the person has not been proven guilty.

With Savile there seems to be no doubt, so whilst we recognise that there is good and bad in us all, I’d like to request that the media reconsider the photos of him that they show and the image that it portrays. i.e. that he is possibly still someone to be celebrated.


Copyright 2012. This document is the specific intellectual property of Susan Popoola. Content may not be reused or reproduced without the specific permission of the owner or a reference to the source. Opinions may be generated




The Enduring Issue of Racism

I was up late on Friday night – I couldn’t sleep. I therefore logged on to twitter  -just to see what was going on.  I noticed that Stan Collymore was trending together with someone named Tom Adeyemi (who I hadn’t previously heard of).  Bored and with “nothing better to do” I clicked on each name to find out why they were trending.

First I clicked on Stan Collymore’s name.  I discovered that with no apparent reason, someone had decided to rein racial abuse on him via twitter. Stan had got fed up with it and reported it to the police. As a result, the man in question had deleted his twitter account. Stan had, however, had the foresight to take photos of the abusive messages, which he posted on twitter. After a visit from the police, he also posted part of his police statement – I guess to make it clear that he would not tolerate such behaviour.

Reading the commentary on this case, a number of people expressed shock at the language and behaviour of the perpetuator who was described as a 21-year-old law student. Others commended Stan for dealing decisively with this case. I was, however, somewhat befuddled to find that there were a number expressing the view that Stan should not have dealt with the situation in public and posted the comments and/or he should have said nothing in public until the matter was resolved.  I was befuddled because I wondered what made people think that how he dealt with the matter even required commentary. Was it not more pertinent that such abuse had taken place than how he decided to report the situation?  Furthermore, I believe it’s important that we are made aware of what is really going on.

Before I talk about the case of Tom Adeyemi, I’ll explain why.

Back in November 2011, a woman was recorded swearing abusively on a tram in Croydon.  Punctuating every other sentence with the F word, she was addressing the passengers that she saw as foreigners and not English, telling them to go back to their own countries.  I don’t know what set her off, but she was later arrested.

Shortly afterwards I posted a thought on twitter, pondering “I’ve been reflecting on the racist ranting of the woman on the Croydon tram – I wonder what % of the British population share her views”

Someone responded saying “Very few I think (and hope)”

I was a bit surprised by what I will describe as his innocence and went on to say “I suspect there are many that share the concerns of the Croydon tram woman. Difference is it’s not publically expressed”

Separate from this, the recent trials and convictions in the Stephen Lawrence case have brought the issue of race to the forefront. The challenge of this is that it’s possible for people to conclude that this was a negative era in our past for which justice has now been done allowing us to close the chapter and move on.

The truth, however, is that although fortunately we have most definitely come along way, we still have a long way to go.  This is not only illustrated by the Stan Collymore case and the Croydon tram incident, but also the case of Tom Adeyemi.

So back to my Twitter explorations… I clicked on Tom Adeyemi’s name and discovered that he is young football player who it seems was racially abused during a football matched. As illustrated by the photographs taken of him immediately after the incident, he appears to be so distressed by the incident that he is virtually in tears. I don’t know what exactly it is that was said to him, but it seems that as result of the incident the game was actually paused for a few minutes.  As you’ll probably be aware there have also been other cases in football as of later, with some interesting responses from some people in positions of authority who have at times belittled the situations or who have without question tried to protect the player against whom allegations have been made.

There is no question, we have come along way, but I believe we need to be honest and recognise that we still have a long way to go.  I’m particular concerned that the alleged abusers of both Stan Collymore and Tom Adeyemi are both very young i.e. 21 and 20 respectively.  I mention age, because at that age they are more than likely to have grown up and schooled with people of colour.  The 21 year old is said to be a law student. It’s early days yet and this is yet to be the confirmed, but assuming he is a law student how well is our education system working in enabling young people to have a more positive view about race or are other influences just too strong? Before you say anything, I’ll reiterate – yes, I know its early days and I recognise that some may say that these are isolated incidents.  I will, however, respond and say that I don’t believe I would have to look too far to find similar incidents (unreported and/or with less public figures) across the country.

The tram case still weighs heavily on my mind as whilst regardless of what set her off, there was no excuse for that ladies language or behaviour, there are concerns that she expressed in relation to foreigners, jobs and immigration that are shared by a number of people in this country.


Copyright 2012. This document is the specific intellectual property of Susan Popoola. Content may not be reused or reproduced without the specific permission of the owner or a reference to the source. Opinions may be generated

The Power of an Idea

Did you know…
£5 provides water for a family for a week?
£10 pays for a rural health care worker for a week?
£25 feeds a family of six for a month?
£50 pays for a sewing machine?
£100 empowers a widow to set up in business?
The Akabusi Charitable Trust Literature

If for no other reason, if you watched the 4 by 400m relay at the 1991 World Championships at Tokyo you will have heard of Kriss Akabusi.  Since the end of his athletics career you may have seen him on television on programmes such as Record Breakers, heard him on the radio or had the privilege to hear him give a motivational talk at an event.  Even if you do know all of this, you may not be aware that he additionally Chair’s a Charity, “The Akabusi Charitable Trust”, that works to promote the social and economic development of communities in poverty in Nigeria.

I say he Chair’s the Charity, but he’s role doesn’t stop there – amongst other things he is actively involved in fundraising for the Charity and in 2010 he led on a Charity Bike Ride from Edinburgh to London aimed at raising funds for the Charity.  Having done what I could to support Kriss on the Bike Ride, a few months later, I received some information which outlined the difference that various amounts of money could make, starting from £5 to the impact that a £100 could have on the life of a widow.

£100 could enable a widow to set up a business I read. I’d like to do that I thought i.e. have the privilege of helping to transform someone’s life. It was just another one of the many ideas that I develop.  More often than not, I think of things that I could do that might be great ideas, but just put them aside. I don’t know if you’re anything like that too?  The only thing is that with this particular idea, the next time I went into the office of the Charity I took my cheque book with me.

“I’d like to sponsor a widow”, I announced. Everyone looked at me. “Your literature mentions that £100 can transform the life of a widow” I stated.  “Find me a widow to support” I went on to demand as I wrote out a cheque for £100. Obediently the next time Kriss and another trustee went to Nigeria to monitor the work of the Charity, they identified a struggling widow and through one of the Charity’s partner organisations supported her in setting up a small business which enabled her to support her family and ensure that her children went to school.  Her life, her prospects and that of her children were transformed.

As a result, the Charity decided to set up a project  – Woman2Woman; to enable women in the UK to support women in rural Nigerian communities.  It’s early days yet, but already there are a growing number of women whose lives are being transformed through this project. I’m humbled by the knowledge that this project developed because I did something with a simple idea that I had.

I’m therefore writing this for two reasons. In the first instance you may have one or two ‘simple’ ideas of you’re own that you’re sitting on. I would like to encourage you to go for it, put yourself out there – you just don’t know what will happen.

Secondly, a seed has been planted, i.e the idea of transforming lives of Nigerian widows and those of their families through donations of £100. In my head, the idea is beginning to develop that this could actually become something phenomenal that transforms whole villages and I was just wondering if you would be interested in being a part of this?


© Susan Popoola MA CIPD FRSA
Conning Towers Ltd
Leveraging the Power of People

New Orleans – Do Whatcha Wanna

If you’re a real jazz enthusiast you will probably know that New Orleans and Jazz are synonymous as New Orleans is the birth place of Jazz. That being the case, even if you’ve never paid a visit during the Annual Jazz Festival or indeed at any other time of the year, you will probably think of New Orleans from the perspective of it’s music – even if this image is now somewhat marred by the images of Katrina.

The images of Katrina may conjure up thoughts of poverty, social injustice or what have you in your mind.

If you are an American Football fan you may probably think of New Orleans and think – “Who Dat” following New Orleans Saints win of the 2009 League Championship with national support and Saints fans shouting or chanting – “Who Dat say they gonna beat the Saints”

If on the other hand your knowledge is based on travel documentaries there is a possibility that you think of the likes of Mardi Gras and Bourbon Street. Although this is a very narrow window, this may lead you to think of New Orleans from the perspective of the Four Ds – Dance, Dining, Drink and Debauchery

For a place know for its music (not just jazz); festivals and parades it’s no surprise that New Orleans is known for Dance.

New Orleans is a place with a very rich mixed culture with influences from across many different parts of the world. Previously a Spanish territory and then French – enhanced culturally by the fact that New Orleans is a major Port city.   A people that take great pride in hospitality – it’s no surprise that New Orleans is known for Dinning and drink is a natural follow on.

I haven’t done any research on debauchery (or the other Ds) it’s all based on my basic logic and observations from my visits. What I will, however, say about the debauchery is that whilst I’m not going to call the people of New Orleans  ‘innocent’: the bad behaviour that I see in New Orleans is largely from people that have come from outside that seem to take the lyrics of the popular New Orleans song, “Do Watcha Wanna” literally.

Do Whatcha Wanna – Rebirth Brass Band

Copyright 2011. This document is the specific intellectual property of Susan Popoola. Content may not be reused or reproduced without the specific permission of the owner or a reference to the source. Opinions may be generated

New Orleans – The Working Poor

You may remember in the days immediately after Hurricane Katrina – a lot of questions were raised as to why people did not leave New Orleans before the hurricane set in.

Different reasons were given for people not leaving; such as people not wanting to leave their pets behind; the lateness of the evacuation notice; evacuating in the past only for nothing to happen; and not having cars.  Above and beyond everything else was the issue of poverty that inhibited people from acting.

Sadly there are those that concluded that the people were poor for the simple fact that they were lazy and refused to work.  The reality that I have since discovered is that although there will be people that fit this definition.  The vast majority are, however, what is classified as the working poor i.e. people who work (possibly even multiple jobs) whose income does not, however, cover their costs of living.

The fact that New Orleans economy is primarily based on Services Industry with a lot of low-income jobs makes the presence of the working poor more prevalent in New Orleans.

I could try and explain the implications of poverty in a developed country such as America, but I’ve come across a report from the Center for American Progress entitled, “What You Need When You’re Poor” which does a much better job that I could do.


Copyright 2011. This document is the specific intellectual property of Susan Popoola. Content may not be reused or reproduced without the specific permission of the owner or a reference to the source. Opinions may be generated

New Orleans – Making a Difference

I’ve always felt a connection to New Orleans as my all time favourite group – Maze featuring Frankie Beverley, recorded their popular album “live in New Orleans there.

Subsequently, when I sat glued to the television watching the events that followed Hurricane Katrina unfold, I felt the need to do something – the need to physically go their and to help to make a difference.

It took me a couple of years to make my first visit, but I clearly remember that when I mentioned my plans to friends who lived in Houston they told me that it wasn’t a good time to visit New Orleans as the place had not yet recovered from Katrina. I was, however, convinced that this was the exact reason why it was an important to visit.

You see when any place faces a disaster – our natural inclination is to stay away. However, whilst donations in cash and kind unquestionably go a long way to make a difference – the presence of people coming back to visit the area really. Lets the local people know that we care. I’m not talking about immediately after the disaster as this could be in the way if we do not have a specific role to play in the clean up process. (For this reason it is best to check first before visiting immediately after a disaster)

However, visiting after the immediate clean up process not only says that you care, but it helps the economy of the area to come back as regardless of what they have been through, the shops, the hotels, the entertainment centres and tourist activities need our custom more so than ever before.

It’s even better if you have the opportunity to volunteer. For a long time I had the impression that in order to volunteer to work on a house-rebuilding programme you had to be available for weeks or months on end – frustratingly, this is not a practical option for me.

Over recent years, I’ve got into the habit of going to New Orleans for the annual Jazz and Heritage festival, which spreads over two weekends. This leaves me with a few days in between the weekends to do tourist things and catch up with friends.

I was therefore delighted when I came across an advert from a volunteers’ organisation named Project 195 earlier this year. They were looking for people to help with reconstruction over the Jazzfest period for anything from a day upwards. They also made it clear that no prior experience was required. I therefore signed up and spent three of days in between the Jazzfest weekend laying floor boards, fitting and painting doors and skirting boards for the house of an extremely grateful and excited man who was going to be able to finally move back to his home after over five years.

During this process I learnt that while it is common for people to volunteer for weeks or months, there is also a place for people who can only help for a day or two or even half a day. During this process I also learnt about the diversity of people that volunteer, from school children, to numerous young adults; to professionals inclusive of a group that had come to play golf in the morning and then volunteered in the afternoon. I was also told about a group of nuns that came in their habits to work for a day. Of further fascination was the number of young American who decide to permanently relocate to New Orleans following on from a volunteering experience.

I’ve also had the opportunity to become an advisor for a small non-profit organisation and with modern technology I don’t have to physically be there to be of help. Ultimately, what I have learnt from my visits to New Orleans is that there is always a way to help even from a distance or whilst having fun.

Copyright 2011. This document is the specific intellectual property of Susan Popoola. Content may not be reused or reproduced without the specific permission of the owner or a reference to the source. Opinions may be generated

New Orleans – Recovery?

As Hurricane Irene impacts the West Coast of America, I can’t help but think of New Orleans.  It is now the six years since Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans as other places along the Mississippi.

I have visited New Orleans four times since then and each time I’ve returned to England people have always ask me to the same questions.  How is New Orleans now? Has it recovered yet?

During my first visit back in November 2007 I spent most of my time in the Tourist area of the French Quarters – one of the least affected areas. If not for a brief visit to the 9th Ward which was one of the worst affected areas, I would have left thinking that New Orleans was well on the way to recovery.  In the 9th Ward however, I saw damaged homes, boarded up homes and overgrown patches of grass in places where there used to be homes – with a few reconstructed homes. I saw a school that had been damaged and was now relocated to another area leaving me wondering what would happen to the education of the children that used to go to that school. I saw the levy that had been breached and was amazed that this was what was to protect a city from major floods.

All in all, I came to a clear realisation that there was so much that needs to be done, so many lives disrupted if not completed devastated. I cried feeling hopeless, not knowing what to do, but knowing that I had to do something.

In my subsequent visits between 2008 and 2011, I went on bus tours, which show the damage, how it came about and the gradual recovery. I spent time speaking to people from different backgrounds about the recovery. I listened to local musicians speak about what has helped and what has got in the way of the recovery and in 2011 I even did a little bit of rebuilding work myself. (In between I’ve also listened to the news, to podcast and read books) On each visit, I left with mixed feelings – happy to see progress in some areas, but sad to see that some areas looked very much like I left them safe for the redevelopment of a few houses here and there; and the major redevelopment work of organisations such as Habitat for Humanity and Brad Pitt’s Make It Right Housing Initiative.

Although the Hurricane Katrina television coverage focused on the poorer neighbourhoods, other areas were damaged as well, though not typical as bad. The poorer neighbourhoods are typically at lower levels and as a result they are more susceptible to flooding.

At the same time recovery in the poorer neighbourhoods is unsurprisingly much slower.  Look at it this way, if you come from a more affluent background – referred to in England as middle class, but in the States as working class – the following will likely apply in case of a disaster:

  • You are likely to have proper insurance cover on your home
  • You are likely to be able to argue your case or get a friend with the knowledge and the background to advise your or do so on your behalf if your insurance claim is disputed
  • You are likely to be able to fill out all the paperwork required for compensation from Government and provide the supporting documentation for proof of ownership of your home
  • You are likely to have some savings that you can use to rebuild and even if not you are likely to be able to go to a bank and obtain a loan
  • You are likely to have friends and/or family outside of the area who can provide you with financial support or support of some other kind.

I could go on, but the ultimate point is that you are likely to have a support structure in place to enable your recovery.  If on the other hand you come from a poorer background, a lot of these things may not be in place for you:

  • You may not have insurance cover or at least not the right type and even if you do – if your claim is disputed you’re less likely to be able to argue your case; you’re also less likely to know someone who can do so on your behalf.
  • There is strong possibility that you inherited your home through generations of family members and that you do not have the full paperwork to proof ownership
  • There is a strong possibility that you are of the demographic classified as working poor i.e. you work possibly even two jobs, but your income barely covers your living costs, talk less of providing you with funds to save.
  • You might not even have a bank account talk less of an overdraft facility and there is no way in which a bank will give you a loan.
  • Most of your friends and family members live in the same area as you and are facing the same circumstances.  They are therefore in no position to support you.

As a result my answer to the question about New Orleans recovery is yes New Orleans is recovering and has in fact recovered in some areas, but there are other places in which the evidence indicates that the recovery is going to take a very, very long time.


Copyright 2011. This document is the specific intellectual property of Susan Popoola. Content may not be reused or reproduced without the specific permission of the owner or a reference to the source. Opinions may be generated

A Post Riot Conversaton About Youth

On the Saturday evening after the London riots, I went to Lewisham to catch up with friends. I guess it was inevitable that we got into a debate about the riots – not only is it one of the most topical issues at this point in time, we were in one of the areas most effect by the looting.

It’s also unsurprising that we very rapidly got onto the topic of parental responsibility. We debated on the need for parents to take responsibility for their children; the capability of some parents to effectively bring up their children; the criticality of parenting in a child’s formative years in order to form a firm foundation; the concept of community and the role of community in the upbringing of children.

Although we all started of from divergent view points we ultimately came to the conclusion that there is a need for effective parenting, but as with the African proverb which says that “it takes a whole village to raise a child” it is a community responsibility. We further agreed that we all needed to do more if young people feel alienated from the rest of their communities and society as a whole. It’s unacceptable for people to feel so alienated from their communities that they are read to destroy it.

We then moved on to other subjects until it was time for us to all go our separate ways.

As we were in a tower block, we had to use the lift to get downstairs. As we exited the lift a young boy of about 14 entered the building. I watched as he walked past us not uttering a word. At the same time none of us said anything to him even though the person who’s flat we were coming from had lived there for years so would have probably seen the boy before.

Reflecting on this, as we all walked towards our cars, I pointed this out. I noted that there is a common expectation that younger people have the responsibility to first acknowledge older people, but what really stops us from doing so and subsequently build up relationships.

We all went our separate ways, acknowledging that although there is a need for wisdom in our approach, there are little things that we can all begin to do immediately.


Copyright 2011. This document is the specific intellectual property of Susan Popoola. Content may not be reused or reproduced without the specific permission of the owner or a reference to the source. Opinions may be generated

About The Author

Susan Popoola

Susan is a Human Resources Capital Optimisation Specialist specialising in areas inclusive of Talent Management with additional interest in a number of other areas inclusive of Education, Community and Social Justice.

Welcome To Our Site...

Susan on Twitter

Get Adobe Flash player