Tower Hamlets Resident
Q: Tell me about yourself. A: My name is Halima and I am a mother of 2 children, a son and a daughter. I have lived in Tower Hamlets for 10 years, but I was born and raised in France. I worked for the airline Lufthansa at the airport in Paris and then I transferred to London where I worked for one of the airports from 2011 to 2014. I became pregnant and I quit my job in order to take care of my kids as I had no family here in London to support me. I am currently not working, but I am applying for jobs regularly.
Q: What are your aspirations and challenges?
A: I am struggling and I find it very difficult to secure a job as I have a gap on my CV. Many employers do not take in consideration my previous work experience and they don’t even want to give me a chance. They just put me on the side and I feel as I am being punished for choosing my children over work. I have the motivation and want to start working, but there are not enough job opportunities suitable for mums. Honestly, I do not feel appreciated and I want to be appreciated. I want to be able to use my skills and even learn more skills. I do not mind going back to school and learning more. I also do not have a problem with shadowing people at a job. I want to learn and prove myself. I want to feel proud, become more confident, try different things, and eventually apply for higher positions.
Q: How do you feel about being part of Tower Hamlets Women's Network?
A: I was not sure what the network is going to be about, but I decided to give it a chance. I was surprised at the beginning as we were discussing topics such as racism, sexism, housing, mental health, employment and job opportunities. I met other women like me who are struggling in the borough. I have seen a lot of humanity during the network’s gatherings as women were openly sharing their experiences and concerns.
Q: What do you like about living in Tower Hamlets?
A: I like the fact that there are a lot of training opportunities offered which help both women and men. The borough also offers free courses for non-English speakers. Mostly, I appreciate the diversity of Tower Hamlets. There are people from different cultures and sexualities. Q: What do you dislike about Tower Hamlets? A: In 2015 I moved from Whitechapel to South Quay. Throughout the years, the situation in the borough has gotten worse as there are more gangs gathering around the blocks and on the streets, who are responsible for a lot of crimes such as stabbings and selling drugs. The women of Tower Hamlets, such as myself, do not feel safe walking around by ourselves, especially when it starts to gets dark outside.
Q: What changes would you like to see in Tower Hamlets?
A: Women, and especially mothers, need more job opportunities with flexible work schedules as this is one of the biggest issues. Flexible work contracts will allow mothers to still contribute to society, while taking care of their kids. Full-time contracts with no flexible school term timetables do not help us to drop and pick our children from school. Only jobs at a school do that. I feel like society and employers are making us choose between our kids and the job. The Council needs to do something about the fact that the borough is overcrowded. We also need more policing on the streets as there is a lot of anti-social behaviour. I want my kids and I, and also other women, to feel safe walking around without fearing for our lives.
Q: What is your message to the women in Tower Hamlets?
A: As women, we need to support each other and work together. We have similar concerns and face similar issues. We have to stand up for ourselves as we need to receive what we ask and aspire for.
Q: And what is your message to Tower Hamlets Council?
A: Mothers must be given equal opportunities to re-enter the workforce. Just because we have kids and want to take care of them, does not mean that we are incapable of working. We need more job opportunities which offer term-time only schedules for mothers with kids. The Council needs to come up with serious programs that will address our daily challenges and barriers that stop us securing jobs and earning decent money in order to survive and live a decent life, especially now that all prices went up. The government developed the Kickstart program for under 24 years olds, why can't they design something similar targeting mothers wishing to re-enter the workforce like myself? We are all humans. I would like to see less racial and gender discrimination. We need to stop treating women as less than men, to stop making women and mothers feel useless in society. Especially because it’s mainly women who are taking care of the kids in a family.