Who are the women leading change in our community?

Who are the women leading change in our community?

by Hazira Begum

My name is Hazira, and I am a Project Support Worker on Toynbee Hall’s research and policy team.  I have got to know Aneita, Paulette and Nasrat over the past year, working together to research and tackle issues like debt, the poverty premium, and community safety.

How have women led change in their communities?

We are grateful that we can celebrate International Women’s Day on Tuesday 8th March.  We have had the pleasure of speaking to three different women about their journeys. All three are passionately leading change in London and beyond.  In our conversation we recognized and celebrated the victories of women in our community.


‘ I did not want to lose a  part of me, I wanted to be Aneita and I am’

My experience of being a single parent and raising a daughter was challenging.  Nevertheless, I felt proactive and had been working since my child was 8 months old. It’s easy to lose yourself while taking care of family, and I didn’t want to lose the part of myself.

I am most proud of my voluntary work with 4 different organisations while holding a part time job with the NHS which I eventually resigned from to become a full-time student studying Psychosocial Community Work at UEL.

The challenges for women in London today are to do with a lack of support from companies that don’t provide flexible work for women. This creates barriers to achieving employment in senior roles due to the cost of childcare or planning for kids.

Aneita has been an Expert by Experience and peer researcher on a variety of Toynbee Hall research and policy projects. In 2022, she joined the research and policy team as a Project Support Worker


‘ When it’s your first time at doing something, you can never forget it, Toynbee Hall helped me grow’

I’ve worked at a supermarket as a part-time employee for the last nine years. I enjoy being busy, and I was thankful to have a job during the pandemic. I am always looking for new things to do. I came across a peer researcher role [at Toynbee Hall], which I wanted to join because I loved to share my ideas and passion with others. 

Toynbee Hall allowed me to experience one of my proudest achievement. When it’s your first time doing anything, you can never forget it that was the case for me. I took the  stage and presented the work  in front of a large audience. I felt proud.

The biggest challenge in London for women currently is, even the bravest of them, feel unsafe at home and the streets these days

Nasrat is a peer researcher on Toynbee Hall’s Safer Homes and Neighbourhoods project, supporting with facilitation and interpretation. In 2022 she shared research findings and proposals to the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime. In 2019, she presented at the event ‘Designing principles together: Co-producing solutions to poverty’ for London Challenge Poverty Week about the importance of tackling the poverty premium. In 2021, she presented at Nest Insight annual conference about the impact of financial crisis on disproportionately impacted communities, based on research findings from Pandemic Stories.


‘I believe that there is pay inequality in women still needs to be addressed.’

I have been a peer research at Toynbee for just over three years, volunteering at Center70, and working as a receptionist with a passion for fighting poverty. 

One of my accomplishments is highlighting poverty prevention and I was a part of a film funded by Fair by Design and it told about my family’s experience with poverty.

Paulette is an Expert by Experience of the poverty premium, taking part in our project with Fair by Design. In 2021, Paulette spoke to the Financial Times about the impact of Low-income households ‘priced out’ of insurance market. In 2021, Paulette wrote a foreword for Fair by Design’s report ‘Inclusive Design in Essential Services’.

Take action for women’s rights in East London this International Women’s Day

Toynbee Hall has always been a place for inspirational women to work together to stand up for women’s rights and work for a fairer, happier London.  On International Women’s Day and throughout Women’s History Month, we are asking you to help with a monthly gift to Toynbee Hall. In doing so, you’ll be ensuring women from the communities we work with can continue to make a difference in their communities and get the support they need to create a fairer, happier London.

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