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Broken lift prevents woman from getting to husband’s funeral

Camden Council offers apologies over repair delay

13 February, 2020 — By Helen Chapman

Godwin Court

THE council has apologised after a disabled widow missed her husband’s funeral because of a broken lift in her housing estate.

The lift in Godwin Court, Somers Town, was out of order for more than a week while Abdus Salam was in University College Hospital after falling ill with pneumonia.

Nargis Khanom, 62, who has chronic arthritis, had to be carried by her son down the stairs from her sixth-floor to visit her husband in hospital.

Abdus Salam

Their son, Abul Kasham, said: “I got a call at 3am from my brother saying dad had another cardiac arrest, he called me and said can you go and get mum and I thought I have got to get there as fast as I can. I had to virtually carry her down the stairs and it took over 20 minutes.”

“The hospital is only around the corner but we didn’t get there until 4am and it was too late, he was gone. It was a stressful time that night. For several days the lift was broken. My mum couldn’t go out without it.”

Mr Salam died in the early hours of Saturday, just before Ms Khanom and Mr Kashan arrived at the hospital. The funeral was held later that day.

Mr Kasham said: “She couldn’t go to the funeral because the lift was still down. She had already gone through that trauma from the night before. Going down the stairs is one problem but going up is virtually impossible.”

Ms Khanom, whose English was translated by Mr Kasham, said: “I am really really upset I couldn’t say goodbye.”

Camden’s housing chief, Labour councillor Meric Apak, said: “I would like to express my condolences to Mrs Khanom and her family for their loss and also apologise for the distress of being unable to use the lift.”

He added: “The lift is now back in operation but regrettably this took far longer to repair than we would have liked due to the difficulties the contractor experienced in getting the new parts needed. We will investigate with the contractor how their response could have been better dealt with.”

Abdus always helped others

IT began in a small hall in Somers Town with 50 to 60 worshippers on a Friday, writes Helen Chapman.

But Abdus Salam, who died on February 1, campaigned for a permanent space from councillors and set up what is now the Al-Rahman Mosque and Education Centre in Godwin Court, Crowndale Road.

Nowadays up to 500 worshippers attend the mosque on Fridays.

His son Abdul Kalam Rahman said: “At the time there was a lot of racism but my dad pushed through and expressed how there was a need to have a space to pray.

Mr Salam, described as a “community champion”, had lived in Somers Town for 45 years.

Abdus Salam

He moved to the UK from Bangladesh when he was 12.

“He practically did it all himself,” said Mr Rahman, “He helped bring the community together, at a time when there was a lot of racism in the area. He helped a lot of people in the area. If someone was campaigning for charity, dad would help encourage donations by putting a box in the mosque. He was always helping others. He used to get a lot of happiness from it as well.”

Mr Salam was a businessman by trade and ran Sylhet Cash and Carry shop in Crowndale Road and another shop in Eversholt Street for 15 years. “He was really young at heart, always smiling,” said Mr Rahman. “And he was really proud of his hair.”

Somers Town council­lor Samata Khatoon said: “Mr Salam was a brilliant community champion – he worked extremely hard to provide an excellent service to the community. He made everyone welcome, and was always willing to offer help.”

“He had a wonderful connection also with the older generation within our community who needed help.” She added: “We all will truly miss his presence.”

His funeral on February 1 was attended by more than 500 people.

He leaves behind wife Nargis Khanom and children Abdul Kalam Rahman, Abul Kasham, Dilruba Khanom and Abul Hasnath.

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