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Tower Hamlets Resident

Q: Please tell me about yourself.

A: My name is Nana and I live in East London. I work at the Tower Hamlets Recovery College and I am a peer tutor. I help with designing and delivering workshops for people experiencing mental health difficulties in the community. I started as a participant in the workshops to help me learn to live with depression and anxiety. Then I decided to volunteer at the college for 2-3 years. A job offer came around during COVID and I took the opportunity. I also did a Leadership course at account3 during the pandemic.

One of my first volunteering experiences was at a charity shop at Watney Market for the Spitalfields Crypt Trust. I wanted to get used to working at the till and just interact with people. I love charity shops, especially where I can find clothes that I can rework to fit me and my style. In my spare time I like karaoke with friends.

Right now, I am doing a training online for motivational interviewing with a colleague of mine. It is about active listening, empathy and compassion, a way to talk and communicate with people, while motivating them to bring change to their lives.

Q: What are your aspirations and challenges?

A: I would like to learn new skills through different experiences, but also get more skilled at facilitating a wider range of workshops. I would like to expand my knowledge and I aspire to progress within my career. I see new job opportunities coming up such as team leader, but the work is mostly done online. I prefer working face-to-face. I also aspire to take more chances. A job role as a team leader is something I aspire to and I have to build more self belief for that, and I am always working on that. I face challenges due to my limited mobility, in fact I use a walking stick. It has changed my view on people, as there are many that offer to help me. I am not always open to receiving help as I can manage it myself. But even when not needed, I am more open to saying ‘yes’. This experience has showed me that there are good and caring people in the world. Currently, I am trying to overcome the fear of going to different places, especially crowded ones. I am a bit hesitant that something can happen. My very close friend and carer helps me and motivates me to not limit myself, go out and around to enjoy London more.

Q: How do you feel about being part of the network?

A: I am happy and quite surprised, as I normally avoid these types of interactions. But after attending some of the gatherings, I find it interesting hearing different views and opinions. I am really pleased that I joined. Women members are very open and willing to share their life experiences, and not shy away from it.

Q: What do you like about living in TH?

A: I like the different cultures and generations and that there are people that are not afraid to engage in a conversation with strangers, especially at bus stops. I like the friendliness of the community in the borough, and how neighbours are very welcoming. During COVID, one of my neighbours would help me with the shopping, and another lady would bring me homemade food. This has helped me realise that you have to be willing to talk to and engage with people. Now I am more open and chat to my neighbours and getting to know new people.

Q: What do you dislike about TH?

A: There is nothing in particular I dislike. I feel quite lucky as my accommodation and housing association is good, and the people around me are friendly.

Q: What changes would you like to see in TH?

A: I would like to see more events and opportunities that bring the people of Tower Hamlets together as a I feel like the borough is divided in different communities and there is not much mixing. We need more advertising of courses and training that are accessible for more people. Further investment is needed into adult education for people 25 and over, as people are in different stages of their lives. If it is not possible for it to be free, at least make it a reasonable price so people can afford it.

Q: What is your message to the women in TH?

A: My message to the women is to take all the opportunities that you see being offered. Aim for your goals and do everything possible to achieve them. Don’t let being a woman, stop you from doing anything.

Best wishes for the future to all the women in Tower Hamlets.

Q: And what is your message to TH council?

A: The Tower Hamlets Council should investment more into community engagement and events. They need to provide more funding to raise awareness for hate crime in the community, but also invest into projects that can unite the community of Tower Hamlets.

It would be great to have a ‘Charity Directory’, a list of all charities in the borough that contribute to better the lives of the community in Tower Hamlets. This will help people know what charities operate in the borough and what kind of support is provided.

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