by RBKC Community Engagement’s Jake Butterworth…
On 4 March 2015, I was lucky enough to be invited to attend the fourth Women on the Move Awards, which was part of the Women of the World Festival at the Southbank Centre.
On arrival, boxes of tissues should have been handed out to attendees. Hearing inspirational and moving stories about migrant and refugee women really did tug at the heartstrings and made me truly value the contribution migrant and refugee women bring to British society.
The Awards is the brainchild of Zrinka Bralo, Executive Director of The Forum, a user-led, community forum working to promote the rights of migrants and refugees, which is based in the Royal Borough and part-funded through RBKC’s Corporate Services Grant. The Awards were exceptionally organised by the Forum and UNHCR and very well attended.
The Awards were presented by Samira Ahmed, journalist and BBC newsreader, and awards were given out in the following categories:
- Special Jury Award
- Young Woman of the Year
- Champion Award
- Media Awards
- Woman of the Year
The Special Jury Award was awarded to Asma Mohamed Ali, who reacted optimistically in very challenging circumstances when the Somali Bravanese Welfare Association’s building, who she worked for, was burnt down in a racist arson attack in June 2013. In a short amount of time, Asma built relationships with nearby synagogues and schools to keep their students’ programme going and led community action to raise £1.1 million from Barnet Council for the centre’s reconstruction.
Chrisann Jarrett was honoured with Young Woman of the Year after founding Let Us Learn, after discovering that she would be treated as an overseas student because her immigration status had not been settled. Let Us Learn campaigns on the issue of access to higher education and a result LSE granted Chrisann a scholarship. Chrisann’s work is not done and continues to use her experiences to help other young people.
The Champion Award was given to Pauline Hawkes, a foster carer who has provided a home and a safe place to dozens of asylum-seeking young people and victims of trafficking. Pauline founded her own foster care agency, the Phoenix Centre, which provides a home for approximately thirty unaccompanied young people at any time.
The Media Awards were given to Giles Duley, for The Invisible People & Syrian refugees, and Katie Razzall for Student loans: the talented state school pupils denied funding. Giles documented the traumatic experiences of disabled and injured Syrian female and child refugees. His documentary highlighted the issues these refugees faced and the impact the compact has on them and their families. Katie’s piece focused on the situation of two talented students denied funding for higher education as immigration statuses were not settled.
The final award of the night, The Woman of the Year, was presented to Sonia Khoury by singer-songwriter, campaigner and RBKC resident Annie Lennox OBE. Sonia arrived in the UK following the increase in violence in Syria in 2011 and having now settled in Wales with her daughter, now works at the Black Association of Women Step Out Women’s Aid, supporting migrant women establishing new lives in the UK. Sonia is a powerful spokesperson for refugee women and works tirelessly to help others.