Awards Spotlight - Aaina Community Hub
Contribution by A'isha Khan, CEO of Aaina Community Hub.
Introducing Aaina Community Hub, one of the Supporting Women award winners.
You won an award under the Supporting Women Category, why do you feel you’ve won this award specifically?
Primarily the purpose of our work has always been to support women who are experiencing difficult times, feel alone, vulnerable and struggle to find support. Aaina has over the years focused on providing services that address and bring relief and respite to service users and give women who have so much potential to fully realise this through life-enhancing opportunities.
Ultimately as an organisation, our ethos is to provide women with pathways out of poverty through up-skilling, access to employment and improved health and well-being. It is very rewarding to hear from service users about the difference we have made to alleviate hardship and difficulties. That is why we persevere and constantly evolve service delivery to respond to the changing needs of the community in Walsall.
What is your proudest moment from the work you’ve done in your community?
I would regard the proudest moment during my time at Aaina (over 20 years) has been to purchase the building from the Landlord ‘The Diocese of Lichfield’ in 2020 after extensive negotiations lasting over 2 years. This means as a registered charity governed by women, we do not have to worry about paying rent anymore or being vacated from our long-established premises, it enables us to plan for long term sustainability. The building has been purchased for women and their families who live in Walsall and will be a safe space to access life-enhancing opportunities for many decades to come.
What is your vision for Walsall in the next 5 years, especially within your sector?
COVID-19 has highlighted the importance of the third sector, especially to those who have been in doubt for so long. Charities have rallied around and responded to the crisis and need in their communities on limited budgets and resources, volunteers and donations have flooded in along with significant funding, from grantmakers of all sizes and government contribution to ensuring the fall out from COVID is cushioned for the most vulnerable in our communities.
In the next five years, I anticipate the sector will receive greater investment and will grow stronger to respond to the lasting impact of COVID especially around health, upskilling, reducing isolation and caring for the most vulnerable.
Can you share a role model with us and why they inspire you?
I don’t have one particular role model but people who persevere, and are motivated by social justice and philanthropy inspire me, they include Imran Khan, Asma Jahangir (Pakistani Human Rights Activist) Nelson Mandela, Jacinda Ardern, Mohammed Ali. There are so many to choose from it is impossible to name them all.
What activities have you enjoyed doing in lockdown that you will continue after COVID?
I have enjoyed gardening immensely during the lockdown, especially selecting plants, nurturing them, watching them grow big and strong and in some cases not, which is disappointing but represents life perfectly.
One of the most important lessons to come out of COVID has been how little we really need to get by and how it is possible to utilise surplus resources available in the home that can be up-cycled, or recycled. I find it quite satisfying and liberating.