“I remember when I became a single parent in Battersea; holding a toddler and a new born baby, not knowing anyone and having no support,” says Nasiya Vorajee, joint organiser of Battersea Mosque’s recent Communi-Tea event for women.
A lot of people don’t know how to seek the right help in the first place.”
“I went to a fantastic GP,” she explained, “who diagnosed post-natal depression and helped me get the right treatment to recover. But a lot of people don’t know how to seek the right help in the first place.”
Nasiya’s struggles would lead her to become a local health champion. She began volunteering at the mosque, where she started her Fitwell exercise and wellbeing workshops. Since then, she has trained as a counsellor and health coach.
According to Nasiya (pictured right), women welcome the opportunity to have a safe space to talk about health issues with friendly support, particularly those who do not speak English as a first language and struggle to access health information.
“They needed a guide to signpost them to the right services on women’s health, such as on menstrual issues, menopause or endometriosis. Some had worries about their health and I explained how important it was to check with their GP. Others did not know how the system worked. The support made all the difference.”
Pandemic pressures led to an increase in stress and anxiety, and Nasiya organised specialist mental health support for the diverse community at the mosque, through talking therapies service, Talk Wandsworth.
Now, funding from NHS South West London’s small grants programme, aimed at bringing people together and sharing health messages, has supported the Communi-Tea event at Caius House, Battersea.
We aimed the event at women, as they often care for everyone and sometimes forget themselves,”
The event was organised by Nasiya and fellow Wandsworth mum and volunteer, Shannon Lee. An integral part of Battersea Mosque’s foodbank operation, Shannon’s engagement with the community, and understanding of the struggles people face, led to her involvement with the Communi-Tea project, where she played a fundamental role in its success.
More than 50 women joined the event, which included interactive workshops in cooking and nutrition, health checks and information about mental health support.Wandsworth community empowerment network supported the health checks as well as the health coaching for the event. Instagrammer Shazia Gaffar gave advice on making healthy choices when cooking and eating. And Azma Mirza from fitness and musculoskeletal therapy organisation, Productive Health, talked about exercise and its impact on physical and mental health. The day concluded with afternoon tea.
“We aimed the event at women, as they often care for everyone and sometimes forget themselves,” Nasiya said. “They can be the backbone to a home, teaching their children good habits in staying fit, eating well, and discussing any worries they may have. So, we wanted to bring them together and enable strong woman to raise strong families, making our next generation more knowledgeable.”
Mahum, who joined the workshops, welcomed the chance to look at all aspects of health – mental as well as physical. “For me, the health consultation was very informative. I found one source of information for all my health-related questions, together with NHS services that I can use. I hope more events like this can be organised in the future.”
Following the success of the day, Nasiya hopes to continue the workshops throughout the year.