Hackney celebrates its heroes
Hackney thanked its unsung heroes in a ceremony at the Town Hall on 23 May.
Mayor Philip Glanville presented the Mayor’s Civic Awards to three well-deserving winners; Barbara Layne, Salmah Kansara and Ngozi Headley-Fulani.
It's really important to celebrate the borough's community champions, who go above and beyond to make Hackney the great place that it is today. These awards not only help us recognise the achievements and efforts of these extraordinary residents but will hopefully inspire more people to get involved with volunteering and community action to help make a lasting difference to Hackney.
The awards, now in their third year, aim to recognise and celebrate some of the fantastic people within the borough and take pride in the amazing things people in Hackney achieve every day.
Barbara Layne is a retired community nurse who has never given up on supporting people in her local community. She has been a volunteer for the past 20 years after she first started volunteering by visiting vulnerable and isolated older residents in the borough. Since then she has been involved in many of community initiatives, including being the first volunteer on the over 50s dance social in 2001. She has supported the event ever since, and now welcomes over 160 guests a month. Also an active volunteer at the 2012 Olympic Games, Barbara helped start a project to get older people to use local leisure centres and get involved with sport – something still used by leisure centres today, benefitting hundreds of Hackney’s older people. Each year she volunteers for the St Pauls Winter Night Shelter, providing food and shelter for homeless people. Barbara has also encouraged 20 other older people to volunteer for the shelter, to ensure there are always enough volunteers to keep the project open and provide support for some of the most vulnerable people in Hackney. It is Barbara’s tiresome effort, compassion and cheery nature that inspires people around her and makes her a true unsung hero of Hackney.
I hope more people can get involved with volunteering, as there are many people in Hackney that need support – anything from a telephone call to a knock on the door can help someone.
Salmah Kansara is the Services Development Manager at the Ihsan Children's Centre based at the North London Muslim Community Centre. Through her role there she has touched many lives, helping women who are experiencing domestic abuse, who are homeless and vulnerable, to find support and access services. Salmah also works with women who are struggling to speak English, helping them develop their skills. Described as a “hero”, Salmah is there for women, motivating mothers who have lost their confidence to get back into work and study to achieve, aspire and thrive in society. Salmah has helped hundreds of women in Hackney, both as a positive role model and by going above and beyond what is expected of her with one-to-one support and community outreach. She makes sure no one is left behind and everyone has the chance to live their dreams and feel a sense of belonging and happiness in Hackney.
I enjoy my work. I get to meet people from all backgrounds and to help them break down barriers so they can believe in themselves and do well. So many people in Hackney are doing wonderful work, which people don’t even know about, so it’s great that we can celebrate and shine a light on those services at these awards.
Ngozi Headley-Fulani set up Sistah Space in 2015 to support women and girls of African heritage who have experienced domestic or sexual abuse and those who have lost a loved one to domestic violence. It is also a safe space for women to go to. Over the past three years Ngozi has built up the organisation, bringing together a team of volunteers to provide lifesaving support, whilst recognising and responding to the impact of these issues on the wider community. Ngozi has fundraised to provide toys, trips for affected children and families, and a community use car to help women who need to leave their home in an emergency. She has also organised community events to help women access Council services as well as broader events to celebrate and highlight African and Caribbean history and culture in the borough. Ngozi is a passionate campaigner and community leader, lobbying in the Houses of Parliament and on the streets of Hackney for better recognition of some of the challenging issues affecting the borough. The lifesaving work she does every day, as well as campaigning for a better future for all, is a testament to Ngozi as a local hero, with a true dedication and love for Hackney and its citizens.
We believe the only way a community can thrive is if we understand and make time for each other. Through volunteering and supporting your community you can give voice to the voiceless, and bring people together to find out about each other’s cultures, to help Hackney grow as a community.