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Tower Hamlets Resident

Q: Please tell me about yourself.

A: My name is Lovely and I live and work in Tower Hamlets. I have worked in the Further Education sector for 11 years. Within that time,I have undertaken various roles from being a Lecturer, Programme Co-ordinator, to Project worker. Most of the work involves setting up educational programmes for disadvantaged groups in partnership with community organisations who identified specific needs ranging from mental health, homelessness, disability to language issues. I have also help devise programmes for young people from the NEET (not in Education, Employment and Training) cohort.

I believe in helping my community and have undertaken many volunteering roles in the past such as with the Stroke Association and management committees that promote community development of disadvantaged communities. At present I am volunteering at Hestia and the Royal National Institute for Deaf (RNID).

I recently completed a Masters of Science(MSc) in Mental Health at Queen Mary University of London and hope to study further to a doctorate level in the future. I am currently attending the Dare to Lead programme at account3 and enjoying learning about management and leadership skills specifically aimed at women from the BAME community. I hope to apply the skills and knowledge gained on the course to future employment.

Q: What are your aspirations and challenges?

A: My aspiration is to make a changes to how mental services are accessed by people from the BAME community. Not enough people are getting the help they deserve due to lack of cultural awareness by practitioners and those in positions of power.

One of my main challenges is to maintain balance between family commitments and building my career. I am a carer for my mother and brother with learning difficulties as well as my young child.

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

A: I feel like I belong somewhere, where people can understand one another. As women, we face challenges and barriers on a daily basis. I feel motivated every time I attend the netwrok gatherings. It makes me want to carry on and do more. I also enjoy listening to other people talking, sharing their experiences and learning more from them.

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

A: I like the diversity of Tower Hamlets, the multi-cultural and multi-racial aspects. There are people from all walks of life and I can relate to many members of the community.

I like that there is support available and also appreciate the community cohesion, particularly when the community comes together during a crisis. I like that there are wonderful parks and touristic places to visit like Tower of London and Tower Bridge, Canary Wharf and famous markets like Petticoat Lane and Columbia Flower Market.

Q:What do you dislike about Tower Hamlets?

A:As a woman I do not feel comfortable walking down certain places especially at night. I dislike seeing drug containers on the streets or smelling drugs and smoke as I believe it affects adults and children’s lungs.

There are too many chicken shops in Tower Hamlets, pretty much at every corner. This can contribute to cardiovascular disease and other health issues for our local community.

There are limited clothes and shoe shops in the borough. I have to go to Westfield in Stratford or other areas to find good quality clothes for work. There are shops selling hijabs catering for Muslim women as well as Asian women like salwar kameez which is great, and I enjoy shopping for religious and cultural activities but it is equally important to me to wear western clothes. It would be nice to at least have few more high street clothes shop.

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

A: I would like to see safer streets, especially more patrols for women’s safety after certain time in the evening and at night.

We need more shopping malls to buy decent clothes and shoes.

I would like to see a change in the job opportunities for women who have children and are going back into employment. The Tower Hamlets Council needs to tear down the barriers mothers face and pressure employers in the borough for job share roles to factor in school runs.

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

A: I currently work with Hestia on the referral line for domestic violence. Please seek help before it’s too late. Find places that will cater toyour needs and never suffer in silence.

Never give up hope! We, women are very strong, but we do not give ourselves any credit. We should build on that strength and we can do it. We have to have that ‘I can do it’ mentality rather than ‘I can’t, so I give up’ approach. We need to support one another and unite in breaking down barriers.

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

A: The Tower Hamlets Council needs to provide safer streets for women. They also need to offer more jobs opportunities to women in senior and higher positions within the counciland providing flexible working hours.

The Council needs to focus on community building. We need more cafes and places where people can get together, to bring people of the community together. Especially after COVID, the community has segregated and there are a lot of isolated people. The Council can encourage people to go out more and providing adequate resources for socialising especially those on low income.

Q: Is there anything else you would like to add that I have not asked you about?

A: The Council has a duty to care for and look after everybody. And with the rising costs of living, they need to provide the opportunity for people to come forward if they have a crisis or a problem with the cost of living. They might want to consider have a separate budget for those people in need to help them financially. It can be done through vouchers, as a one off or ongoing. Every little bit can help.

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