Read our piece in The Guardian for an insight into our CEO’s working week at JAN Trust! It is tough work but rewarding in order to improve the empowerment of women in the UK and to prevent issues such as hate crime, radicalisation and extremism.
Read more here or below.
‘A mother tells me her son joined Isis and is now dead’
After the school run, I rush over to Westminster for a series of meetings with MPs to discuss counter-terror issues facing the UK. While I am out of the office a member of my team alerts me to some hate mail that features vile imagery of women of colour and faith being hanged, accompanied by the text: “You’re next.” I head straight to the office and report it to the police. It’s not the first time this has happened, and I fear for my safety and that of my staff and our beneficiaries, a lot of whom are Muslim women. I can’t help but question the society we live in where people threaten, hurt and kill others based on the colour of their skin, gender or faith.
Today I am delivering a series of workshops to 180 students. Since surviving the 7 July London attacks, engaging with communities to prevent and tackle radicalisation has been what’s driven me. It can be disheartening hearing how many children suffer Islamophobic and racist abuse. Additionally, some of their peers have travelled to Syria to join Islamic State, and I am concerned by the impact this may have on them. To know the friend that you used to play football with is now in Syria can only be detrimental to young minds.
I have a call from abroad first thing with an international minister, to discuss counter-terrorism and online extremism. Once the children are at school I go to our headquarters. We are running daily classes on topics including English, fashion and employability, as well as benefits workshops. Today we had a beneficiary who was very distressed. I left what I was doing and found out that she was suffering domestic violence at home. Mid-afternoon I sit down with the team and catch up on a new initiative we are about to launch. Heavy rain begins to fall and the centre starts to flood. We have to sort the flooding out, with all hands on deck to clear up. I am then on the phone to Haringey council, forgetting I have funding deadline to meet at 6pm. Fortunately I get it in at 5.57pm.
I deliver a refresher session for a programme we run designed to educate and empower Muslim women and mothers to prevent and tackle online extremism. Halfway through, a mother tells us that her son joined Isis and is now dead. It’s a sombre moment: the whole room is in tears.
After the school run, I head into town to deliver a presentation to the board of a major company on overcoming adversity. It receives a great reception, and even has some people in tears after hearing the human impact of the stories we come across, but I can’t help but question if they would see the value of funding our charity’s vital work. In the afternoon I chase the response to the hate mail we received at the beginning of the week, and am advised by the police to get panic alarms and not take my children onsite with me anymore.