Déjà Vu for Bow’s Safia Jama who attends second DLR naming ceremony in a year

Campaigning in the community leads to Safia Jama’s second DLR train naming ceremony in just over a year. 

If you step aboard the number 62 DLR train that speeds through Devons Road, Bow Church, and into Stratford, then you’ll be sitting on Safia Jama’s train. 

Jama, founder and CEO of Women’s Inclusive Team (WIT), a Bethnal Green based charity that works to support Black and ethnic minority women in the borough, was recognised for her efforts at providing vital services such as food banks to her community during Covid through the naming of a DLR train. 

This, however, is not the first train that Jama has had named after her…

As part of an initiative by KeolisAmey Docklands, the company responsible for overseeing the running of the DLR line, it introduced Covid Heroes to celebrate local community heroes and commemorate them with plaques on its trains.

Jama was successfully nominated to receive such an accolade and her first naming ceremony took place in September 2021. But, upon the reveal of the train’s plaque, there was a glitch; the name on the plaque was misspelt. Instead of saying ‘Safia Jama’, it read ‘Safia Jamma’. 

While Jama, who lives in Bow, said that at first she was ‘disappointed’ at the misspelling, she said that put it to the back of her mind as, ‘there are bigger things going on in this world’.

WIT volunteer, Florence Perdriel, however, fought for Jama’s name to be corrected, taking up the campaign for the plaque to be changed in February of this year. Perdriel said: ‘Safia’s done so much for her community and she should receive the proper recognition.’ 

Perdriel spent eight months emailing, calling, and chasing TfL, the Deputy Mayor of London for Transport’s office, and KeolisAmey Docklands, the company responsible for overseeing the running of the DLR line, to correct Jama’s name.

Now, over a year on from Jama’s first naming ceremony, have TfL and KeliosAmey Docklands organised for a new plaque to be placed on a train to rectify their mistake.

At the unveiling of the new plaque on Wednesday, Perdriel said: ‘I am very happy; it’s just proper recognition and a way of celebrating Safia rather than celebrating the original plaque which had someone else’s name on it. Safia was awarded this for a reason, and so it is right that her name is properly spelt.’

Perdriel added: ‘If this was the case of a white woman or white man being recognised, I think this would have likely been handled differently. Addressing the white privilege system needs to be done by white people so I felt I could be an ally to Safia and champion this change.’

Jama said she was ‘really touched’ that Perdriel fought and campaigned so hard on her behalf. ‘That’s allyship,’ Jama said, ‘If everyone went above and beyond for others, then we would have a better society.’

She added: ‘I realise that this is not just about the name, it’s far bigger than that. It’s making a clear statement about identity.’

Perdriel said she was grateful to TfL for its help in rectifying the mistake and making Jama’s case to KeolisAmey Docklands.

We contacted KeolisAmey Docklands and TfL for comment on why it took a year to change the name. A spokesperson said: ‘In March 2022, it was brought to our attention that Safia Jama’s name had been misspelt on her plaque. After reviewing the initial submission received, we found that the incorrect spelling had been taken from what was supplied on the initial nomination. KeolisAmey Docklands immediately contacted Safia to apologise and inform her that a new name plaque would be created and installed on the train.’

They added that the plaques are made from a specialist material and require hand etching ‘which takes a number of weeks to produce’. It cited the opening of the Elizabeth line, which ‘required extensive signage materials across a number of TfL modes’ as a key reason for the delay in rectifying Jama’s name and replacing the plaque with the new one.

Safia Jama and Florence Perdrield in front of the DLR train named after Safia Jama in Stratford, East London
Safia Jama and Florence Perdriel standing by the new plaque

If you enjoyed this, then read our article on the Canal Club Community Garden saved from demolition.

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