Part of the Stories of Change project. Image by Kay Aitch.
My name is Aisha and I’m a health champion at the ShipShape health and wellbeing centre. I came to ShipShape as a service user two years ago. My doctor referred me. I came regularly, every Wednesday, because of my liver problems. They advised me what to eat, what not to eat. Then one day they asked me to be a health champion. I said I wasn’t confident – my language isn’t good. They said it would help to build up my confidence. So I said alright that’s fine – and I became a mental health champion. I did a lot of training.
And that’s how my confidence is building. We had five, six people coming to the mental health group in St Peter’s church. But we didn’t call it a mental health group because our community is like this – we just can’t openly call it a mental health group. So we called it a Women’s Group. We ran it for six weeks independently. And then a funding problem came and we couldn’t continue with the same group.
I look at myself – I was a service user and I needed help in that kind of situation. Now I’m helping others. This has helped me to become a better human being and see the problems that people suffer – even though in this country you can’t see problems openly. It’s hidden in the houses. In Pakistan you can see the problems. It’s out in the open. Here what the media shows is like a ‘high-five class’, but it’s not really like that. People are suffering in their houses. Because I work with women I see lots of women are suffering. They sit at home alone watching TV. That’s all.
There are these kinds of services like Shipshape, libraries, Zest, Darnall Wellbeing, Sure Start (this was really famous, but it shut down) which are very helpful. I’m an Asian woman wearing a scarf and hijab, and my work in the community can be a motivation to other women who want to do something but think maybe the community won’t accept us. This is wrong. I work in a white community a lot because Shipshape is that kind of place where all communities come to. And they do accept me. We’re one big family in Shipshape.
I didn’t have some of the barriers other Asian women have, such as in-laws. As an Asian lady there can be a lot of barriers. You can’t go there – you can’t do this – you’re not allowed.
I’m here at the moment because of ShipShape. I hope funding never ends for Shipshape.
Stories of Change is a collaborative project between Sheffield First Partnership’s Better Connected Programme, the University of Sheffield, local artists, and people of Sheffield; it is investigating how public services can be better connected to the actual needs of people who use them. By bringing together people from different communities and age groups, this project will help to frame an overall picture of how different kinds of crises might complicate the connection between people and public services.