By Durdana Ansari – Ethnic Minority Foundation, Project Director

EMF established its first Muslim Women’s Project in 2006.  The project was established in response to European Social Fund’s programme called Equal. 


The Equal Programme required to prove the hypothesis that a community organisation was much better placed to deliver services cost effectively to, 'hard to reach groups' like Muslim Women instead of the statutory bodies.

The project required 100 Muslim Women to be recruited as beneficiaries and to be trained by 12 Muslim Women volunteers in ESOL, IT and other cultural activities like broadcasting, cookery, beauty therapy, henna painting, dress making, jewellery making etc.  Provision was made for a full time Project Director and three co-ordinators were to be located in London, Bristol and Bolton.  Laptops were also


At the end of the project in 2008, because of the demand throughout Britain, EMF ended up establishing four centres in London and one each in Leicester, Bradford, Manchester and Bolton.  250 volunteers were recruited to train about 2,000 Muslim women at these centres.  Women of 18 to 80 years of age joined the programme and 20% of these women progressed further with jobs, self employment, higher education and becoming leaders of their communities.


Additional activities such as driving, citizenship and health and fitness classes were added. An evaluation was carried out in 2008 which showed that the project’s success was due to EMF’s understanding of the faith and culture of the Muslim Women. Their families felt that it was their own centre where, they felt at home.


The Muslim women who participated as beneficiaries became volunteers to train others at the centre.  Women who started to earn through jobs and self employment spent their earnings on their children’s education to ensure that their children had better education which in turn would stop the possibility of them being radicalised by any extremist elements.


Above all, the Muslim Women became more confident of themselves and were able to go shopping, to visit their doctors on their own and their children’s schools to talk to the teachers about the progress of their children and even begin to help them in their homework etc.  EMF has been spending its own resources to continue with the project since 2008.  Additional funding has come from local communities, the participants, colleges, churches and mosques.
EMF’s Plan for High Wycombe

EMF and its Project Director with her core staff are, on an ongoing basis, looking at cities and towns of Britain where there are Muslim families in larger numbers. High Wycombe has been one of such towns where about 20,000 Muslims live. After consultations with the various groups since January 2009, it is obvious that there is a demand, a desire and full support for an EMF project to be established in High Wycombe.  Muslim Parents Association has also been very supportive of EMF’s proposed projects for High Wycombe.

The project will require a full time coordinator to be recruited in High Wycombe and supplemented by the Project Director and her team to manage and to work with the coordinator.  EMF will also provide the teaching material, laptops and office furniture.

A local management committee comprising of community leaders, beneficiaries and volunteers will ensure that the community benefits from this project and expands by setting up smaller satellite projects in the town.


 Through the project, it is hoped that a strong leadership will emerge which will have the ability to bring the Muslim Community from the “Margins To The Main Stream” and be fully integrated into the wider community as British citizens.


I am very excited at the prospect of joining forces with the MPA, community groups and local schools in reaching a neglected section of our society. 


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