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Tower Hamlets resident and artist at Paracarnival

Q: Please tell me about yourself.

A: My name is Bettina Fernandez Sleeman and I have lived in London for 27 years. I originally lived in North London and I moved to East London about 15 years ago. I love it here. I consider it my home because I feel like I grew up here. I have had opportunities in London, that I would have never had in my home country. I consider myself very fortunate because everything I have done in my life is everything I wanted to do at the time and I am able to combine my roles as mother, professional portrait and theatrical set painter, Samba dancer and director of Paracarnival CIC, the company I co-founded with my partner Selim. We work with other local artists and performers in delivering our programme of creative community workshops in music, dance, costume making and our distinctive BSL choreography & silent song which have culminated in legendary Carnival performances since 2010.

We bring together people of all backgrounds, ages, abilities and especially vulnerabilities. We met and worked together with many of our fellow artists at the former Nomadic Community Gardens.

Q: What are your aspirations and challenges?

One of my interests is Astrology and I aspire to becoming a professional astrologer. The most challenging aspect of the work with Paracarnival is fundraising. It is not easy as we never know if our project will be accepted and funded. But once we get a grant, then we can start organising the work process and the fun begins with all our wonderful friends!

Q: How do you feel about being part of the Tower Hamlets Women's Network?

A: I really enjoy being part of the Tower Hamlets Women’s Network. It is an opportunity to get different points of view about what is going on in our borough, and discuss issues that are important to us.

Q: What do you like about living in Tower Hamlets?

A: I like being part and working alongside the Muslim community.

Q: What changes would you like to see in Tower Hamlets?

A: I would like to see more funding opportunities for organisations who work with vulnerable people and the local community.

Q: What is your message to the women in Tower Hamlets?

A: Let's get together! Our diversity is our strength.

Q: And what is your message to Tower Hamlets  Council?

A: We would like to see a community space similar to the Nomadic Community Gardens where the local community can meet and mix. An intercultural, intergenerational, and inter-ability place for all.

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