PARIS ATTACKS: ‘It’s in difficult times that humanity reaches out’ says President of the Islamic Society of Britain

In the wake of the Paris attacks and subsequent unity marches, I decided to get in touch with Sughra Ahmed, President of the Islamic Society of Britain.

Sughra is somebody I spoke to whilst on placement at Sky News. Seeing her on various news outlets including the BBC and ITV this week, I decided to get in touch with her to conduct a phone interview on the topic of the Paris attacks and the Islamic Society of Britain’s view on what has happened.

Sughra kindly agreed to an interview, and gave me a lot of very powerful quotes. I am pleased that I actively used contacts that I’d made during placements to help contribute to my portfolio.

PARIS ATTACKS: ‘It’s in difficult times that humanity reaches out’ says President of the Islamic Society of Britain

Sughra Ahmed, President of the Islamic Society of Britain

The President of the Islamic Society of Britain, Sughra Ahmed, has expressed her pride at the strong sense of unity in the wake of the Paris terror attacks.

The non-for-profit, community based charity was founded in 1990 and elected Ahmed in 2013, making her the first female president of the body.

Condemning the recent attacks in Paris, which claimed the lives of 17 people, Sughra said

“These people are murderers and criminals.

“The marches last weekend sent an important message to those who want to wreck-havoc and destroy our society.”

Speaking of the solidarity which was shown across the world, Sughra continued

“It’s in difficult times that humanity reaches out to one another. We do things together as people – the differences fade away and we march for the same reason and same cause.”

The solidarity walk was attended by world leaders, from David Cameron to the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Reports estimate that over two million people took part in the march, which began at Paris’ Place De La République.

Sughra also spoke of the controversial cartoons depicting the prophet Muhammad in Charlie Hebdo’s latest edition.

The front cover shows the prophet with a tear in his eye, holding a single sign expressing sympathy with the deaths of the cartoonists and journalists.

“They have printed the cartoon, but the message is ‘All is forgiven’ and it’s important to mention that, because whilst staff and relatives are reeling, they’ve still made that heartfelt gesture.”

“All religions advocate freedom and fairness. If people feel hurt, they need to engage with others in legitimate ways.”

On what could be done to stop avert further atrocities, she said

“We have learnt from history that talking can work. We need to have conversations across our society, within Muslim communities and outside of them.

“Any kind of challenges people have should be spoken about. This isn’t just Islamophobia, but wider issues like racism and homophobia.”

Discussion amongst diverse communities is a major focal point for the Islamic Society of Britain, which regularly works alongside other organisations to promote the bringing together of people through national events and schemes.

One such event is Islam Awareness Week which runs from March 16-22. An ‘open and inclusive’ week, it is something of a welcome celebration for Sughra, who spoke of the upset and challenges the Islamic Society of Britain feels when terror attacks like those in Paris occur.

For more on the Islamic Society of Britain or Islam Awareness Week, visit

or follow @BritIslam on Twitter


NEWSDAYS: Coffee4Craig Feature

After reporting on the ‘5 Tins Challenge’ project by Coffee4Craig , I decided to also write a feature story on the background to the charity and why it was set-up.

When interviewing Risha Lancaster, I learnt that her brother, Craig, who had died in 2013, was the inspiration for the charity.

This heartfelt and human-interest story was one which I could not ignore and I decided to cover the story for Quays News. This decision was also based on analytics from earlier in the week which had shown that feature stories had been very popular online.

My feature on

My feature on



BBC Radio Manchester & 5Live Scripts

Another placement of mine was at the BBC. Over four weeks I worked at BBC Radio Manchester and BBC Radio 5Live.

I worked on Becky Want’s afternoon programme on BBC Radio Manchester for two weeks. In this time I worked on research and writing briefs on Becky’s guests.

A view of Becky's studio from the producers desk. Katherine Jenkins was being interviewed at the time.

A view of Becky’s studio from the producers desk. Katherine Jenkins was being interviewed at the time.

Alongside this was script writing. Below is an example of the scripts which were written – most were used on air without sub-editing.

During my placement I also worked at BBC Radio 5Live.

Working on the mid-afternoon programme ‘5Live Daily’ I helped carry out research, set up interviews and compose briefs for presenters on various stories.

I also wrote scripts which were used in news summaries on the programme.

These scripts were different to my scripts from BBC Radio Manchester in that these were heavy news stories as opposed to celebrity-driven entertainment scripts.

BBC Radio Manchester Cues (PDF)

BBC Radio 5Live Cues (PDF)

NEWSDAYS: Quays Mail

Working as Editor for the newspaper, Quays Mail, I worked alongside the team to create the first edition. At 20 pages long, it was a challenge, however I feel that I managed the group well and everybody put in hard work which helped us achieve what we did.

The paper featured topical and human-interest news stories as well as sport and entertainment.

In my position I guided reporters on what angles to find within their stories. I also sub-edited alongside fellow editors and made sure that the look and feel of the paper was to a professional standard.

NEWSDAYS: 5 Tins Challenge – Radio & Paper

Working as a reporter in the second week of newsdays, I covered the story of Salford charity Coffee4Craig which launched the 5 Tin Challenge, a scheme much like the Ice Bucket Challenge which gave people the opportunity to help feed those in poverty.

The ‘5 Tin Challenge’ story was initially a radio package which was then altered for Quays Mail as a print story.


‘5 Tins Challenge’ story on page 2 of Quays Mail

I interviewed the founders of Coffee4Craig, Fie and Risha Lancaster.

Sky News

Placements have been an important part of my semester, and after completing an initial three-week placement at Sky News in August, I was lucky enough to go back again for an extra week in late November.

There, I worked with the Sky News Digital team, publishing a story for their popular App, Sky News for iPad, and working on an election project.



The story, on vinyl sales, featured on the main timeline of news stories.


The story was about which albums were most popular in the vinyl charts for 2014.

Sky News use a website called ‘Scoop’ to publish stories for the iPad and this is what I used to create this story.


Using Scoop I wrote the headline and tease for the story, followed by the main copy. I also sourced images.



During my time I also worked on an election project focusing on 150 marginal seats which could swing to another party in May.

I worked alongside others to write briefs for a number of constituencies. The briefs went live online and on Sky News for iPad on January 5th, 2015 as part of Sky’s ‘In the Margins’ initiative.



‘Sunshine boy river inspires disabled help group’ – Rochdale Observer – Work Experience

This article of mine was published in the Rochdale Observer

THE parents of a young disabled boy whose condition is a mystery to doctors have set up their own charity support group.

Jeni and Chris Wardley, from Littleborough, hope that the group will be able to provide days out for families with disabled children, who often have to attend numerous hospital appointments and therapy sessions.

The couple care round-the-clock for four-year-old son River, who suffers from seizures and sleep apnea which can leave his oxygen levels dangerously low.

Jeni, 34, said

“We have thought about a charity group for a long time. But in the past week we have had a huge surge in support. I can’t believe it.”

The group, named The Sunshine Circle, attended the Manchester 10k and handed out nearly 5,000 leaflets which describe what kinds of events it wants to offer. ​A mascot visiting sick children in hospital with gifts and a sensory bus which would travel around the area are just some of the ideas put forward.

“People were lovely at the marathon, they were so interested.

“We think that River is our sunshine and I think all special needs children have a way of making people happy.”

But Jeni said that at times, the strain of caring for a disabled child ‘can be very isolating’

“We haven’t went for a meal in so long because people can judge you, and that is soul-destroying.

“You get so involved in it. I just want to see my child laughing and smiling.”

Despite their son still being classed as undiagnosed by doctors, which Jeni called ‘frustrating’, the family is happy that River is progressing in other ways, currently attending Springside School.

The family is also organising a number of fundraising events, including a car wash with a difference – dad’s in tutu’s cleaning the cars!

“Everything that we do will help us create some fantastic memories in the future.”

If you would like to get involved, go to the groups Facebook page: