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Friday, December 1, 2023

Leeds’ South Asian-led Women’s Centre marks 25 glorious years of empowerment!

Celebrations are being held to mark a charity’s 25 years of helping women and families in Leeds.

Shantona, based in Harehills in Leeds, works with women who have been subjected to domestic violence and women with mental health issues, predominantly in the Asian and minority ethnic communities.  Most of them have fallen through the net of the statutory agencies.

The charity was sent up in 1998 by a local Bangladeshi woman who was concerned about the lack of support for women in Harehills. It has since grown and now employs 15 staff supporting hundreds of women and their children.

The organisation started with two women seeing a need in their local community and working hard to address this together, has now grown into a staff team of over 20 supporting women, children and families with a range of issues and advocating for ethnic minority communities across Leeds

Presenter Christine Talbot with director Nahid Rasool
Image: Shantona

Currently led by Nahid Rasool, the charity throughout 25 years have won numerous accolades. From winning the ‘Duke of York Community Initiatives Awards’ in 2007 and 2012 to being declared the ‘Best Women’s Centre’ at the A1 Business Excellence Awards in 2015, the charity has climbed ladders after ladder.

In 2007, Nahid was involved as a coordinator from the UK in ‘Genderwise’, a transnational European project, looking at gender equality issues before policy came into practice. 8 Partners from various countries in EU such as Brussels, Italy, Spain, and Denmark were involved. Nahid managed to bring cross-sectoral, multi-agency approach to push this agenda.

In 2017, Nahid received an Honorary Doctorate from Leeds Beckett University for her work, tireless dedication, and significant contribution to public and voluntary services.

The Mayor of West Yorkshire, Tracy Brabin will be the guest speaker at a celebration to be held on Tuesday 12th September in Harehills, hosted by television personality, Christine Talbot.  West Yorkshire’s Deputy Mayor for Policing and Crime, Alison Lowe OBE, who has been a supporter of Shantona since its early days, will present awards to those involved in the charity’s work.

David Cameron with Shantona Team
Image: Shantona

Several hundred guests are expected to attend, including women the charity supports, dignitaries and funders. They will hear from women who work for Shantona on what has been achieved in the past 25 years and plans for the future of the charity. A group of teenage girls will also talk about their dreams for Harehills in the next 10 years.

A party with well-known DJ, Saika for more than 100 women will be held in the evening to round off the celebrations.

Chief Executive of Shantona, Nahid Rasool who has been with the charity since its foundation, says; “We are incredibly proud of all we have achieved in the last 25 years but we’re not standing still. We’re looking at what we can do in the next 25 years to be of even greater support to women in Leeds. We look forward to welcoming people to join our celebrations to mark our 25-year milestone.”

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