Thursday, 29 November 2012

Guest blog by A.M Poppy - Citation for civic award for Helen Michael

BY A.M Poppy,
Helen Michael has made a big difference in Barnet this year, and is an obvious recipient of the council’s civic award.

Helen initiated the campaign against the parking fees changes in Finchley, taking on a dynamic leadership role among the traders in Finchley. She now chairs the traders association – a leading force in promoting our ailing high street.

Her civic engagement, undertaken alongside running Buzz Café on North Finchley High Road, unleashed a wave of civic activism in Finchley that flowed into other social campaigns in the area, which together wrought significant changes in the community and political configuration in the area.

Helen has shaped Buzz Café into a much-needed daytime community hub in North Finchley, from which radiates a sense of belonging that other amenities on the high street have not achieved.

Helen has contributed her zeal and savvy to other local campaigns, strengthening them and igniting ever more civic engagement in the area. Other campaigns lack a figurehead, so Helen Michael has become the face of Barnet activism, which has captured the public imagination and media coverage. That prominence has come at a very high cost.

Helen’s campaigning contributed to the break-up of her relationship, that also lost Helen her home. Helen has been subjected to intimidation, late-night questioning by the police, and more recently was in hospital having a suspected broken wrist treated following a fracas with a rival opposed to her campaigning on parking fees.
This has taken a toll on her health, but Helen remains cheerful, hard working, and she continues her campaigning undaunted.

Throughout, Helen has succeeded in rallying a great deal of support from a growing number of people who take heart from Helen, see her as a powerful role model, and are inspired by her personable, modest, and clear commitment.

Helen has undoubtedly been the most inspirational personality in Barnet over the last year. She has cut a huge figure in Barnet, despite being a petite person herself. She describes herself as a simple business owner and mother, but to us she is an intelligent, unassuming lioness.
A.M Poppy was the Green Party candidate for Barnet and Camden in the 2010 GLA elections. She has nominated Helen Michael, owner of Cafe Buzz in North Finchley for a Barnet Council Civic Award. Guest blogs are always welcome at the Barnet Eye.


Huw said...

This is a wonderful citation, with which I wholeheartedly concur. If a second is required I'd be happy to put my name down. Helen has played a crucial and exemplary role in how the electorate deals with the behaviour of its elected officials. They might not approve of her, but she is as a crucial a part of the democratic process as they are.

Lindsay said...

Great post, Poppy. Helen does deserve such an award.