Tuesday 8th March is International Women’s Day 2022 and to celebrate we spoke with some of the inspiring women across British Land neighbourhoods to talk equality, their proudest moments and what advice they’d give to their younger selves.
Guest Services Manager for Rapport, Oihane Azcona
Oihane moved to the UK from Spain and is proud of her role at Paddington Central but also her connections with her family, studying photography and piano and learning what’s important after the pandemic. She feels International Women’s Day is crucial because: “There is still a lot of work to be done around equality. The theme for IWD is breaking the bias at work and I think it’s on point, we have to work harder to get noticed, we get underestimated more than men and we have to prove that we have the skills before getting hired”. She’s running a special event for IWD – “Brunch and Learn, to learn more about biases at work and a yoga class to look after ourselves.”
Charlotte Gilliland, Property Manager at Paddington Central
We spoke to Paddington Central’s Charlotte about the things she’s most proud of, advice she’d give her younger self and the women who inspire her (“Jess Phillips MP (Shadow Minister for Domestic Violence and Safeguarding) who campaigns relentlessly for the safety of women). Talking about International Women’s Day, Charlotte feels there’s a long way to go in terms of equality: “From gender pay gaps, to the images portrayed by the media and the opportunities available to us as women.”
Broadgate’s property manager Kenneila Quashie
Kenneila has worked at Broadgate for the last five years and now manages 2 & 3 Finsbury Avenue. With a love of mentoring, karaoke and solo travelling: “I made a list of things I wanted to do and went and did them; sky-diving, bungee jumping, discovering communities new to me. I realised the power of being independent and self-sufficient”, we talked to Kenneila about what it’s like working as a woman in the real-estate industry, the woman who inspires her most and why International Women’s Day is so crucial for all women. “There’s so much more work to be done in acknowledging the intersectionality of women and how sometimes we may have progressed in one area for some women, there are different battles for different women, for example some women may face greater challenges and barriers because of their age or ethnicity too.”
Broadgate Tractable’s Senior Office Manager Caz Pease
Caz Pease is Senior Office Manager at Tractable, an AI company that’s coming to Broadwalk House in April. We spoke to her about her female role model – Ruth Bader Ginsburg, how the treatment of women has changed since she first started working in the 90s and why IWD is so meaningful to her: “For me, it's about providing the space and the platform for women to ensure they are heard and celebrated. It's also an opportunity for us to reflect on our own achievements as women. We're pretty amazing and we should remember just how much we do that goes unrecognised.”
Regent’s Place security officer Lavern Fowler
Asked which woman inspires her, Lavern explains, “My mum. Who came here from Jamaica when she was in her 20s with relatively nothing to her name. Found work and somewhere to live in times which were very very hard.” Having worked at Regent’s Place for two years and 12 years in security, Lavern highlights that giving back to the community is crucial: “I was asked to give a talk about women in security at a local Primary school a couple of years ago. Although I was nervous and out of my comfort zone it was lovely to be asked and the interaction with the children was great, some of which I saw after who recognised me which was nice.” We talked to her about how the pandemic has affected her and why she thinks International Women’s Day is so important for women around the world.
Regent’s Place senior property manager Melissa Osman-Clarke
On the subject of IWD, Melissa admits, “In truth, I don't celebrate women in any one day. I celebrate, admire and praise women throughout the year as it is needed. But I am thankful for the day as it spreads the word and shows that so many of us have great accomplishments that need to be shared, spoken about and learned from.” We asked Melissa about her proudest moments, how growing up in North London impacted her life and what advice she’d give her younger self: “Grab what you can when you can out of life, education and not friends are key and make everyday count, as tomorrow is not promised.”
We also commissioned London-based documentary maker and portrait photographer Joyce Nicholls and director and photographer Daisy Gaston to interview local women who work, volunteer and live in Paddington Central and its neighbourhood. Asking about their experiences and exploring their lives, this inspiring and enlightening must-see film features three women from Paddington Central (plus women from our sister sites at Broadgate and Regent’s Place).
Inspiring Women from Paddington Central and our local Westminster community
Lena Choudary-Salter, founder of Mosaic Community Trust
Since 2006 Mosaic near Paddington Central has supported socially-and economically-isolated communities encouraging people from all backgrounds and faiths to learn from one another to create an enriched community. Mosaic empowers local people through encouraging their participation in running social enterprises such as a recycled shopping bag project and massage therapy training. Lena founded Mosaic with a vision to tackle religious intolerance and prejudice. She is an international development professional, dedicated to community empowerment and with a successful international development career spanning 30+ years. Lena is a strong voice for the unrepresented BAME community in North Westminster, advocating for equality in health care provision within the health and wellbeing sector. Lena is a qualified Nutritionist and a Social Development Specialist with expertise in training and applying therapeutic Ayurvedic massage for mental health and wellbeing.
Brenda Meadows, local volunteer and community champion
At 88, Brenda spends most of her time volunteering for various organisations such as the Out and About club, an elderly hub and the local foodbank. She’s a local resident and has lived on the Harrow Road for a number of years.
Elizabeth Linden, Senior Director of global workspaces at Finastra
Finastra is one of the largest fintech companies in the world where Elizabeth delivers workplace experiences that drive efficiencies, connections, creativity and portfolio alignment with business strategies and culture.
Inspiring Women from Regent’s Place
Caitlin Johnston Fleming, youth mentor for an LGBT Youth Group and volunteer for two local food banks including Lifeafterhummus – which used to run community cookery classes but is now acting as a Covid 19 Emergency Community Response Centre
“I haven’t been at Lifeafterhummus for long but I’ve definitely enjoyed my time here. They have given me the opportunity to do my weekly food shop here which has taken a strain off my family and, in return, I get to meet so many lovely people, both volunteers and beneficiaries. I help with organising and helping others with getting a balanced grocery shop.”
Georgina Thompson, a mother of three who gave birth to her ‘lockdown baby’ at the height of the pandemic in May 2020, she also volunteers at Lifeafterhummus.
“I’m currently on maternity leave and recently qualified as a nurse which I’m looking forward to. I really enjoy being on the wards, especially with the elderly patients as they have so much to say; so much history – a whole lifetime within them. I’m a volunteer and a beneficiary of Lifeafterhummus Community Benefit Society. I help with the weekly food supply purchase at the local wholesalers and also work as a volunteer surplus collector, collecting food surplus from allocated stores. It’s so rewarding picking up the food knowing it isn’t going to waste; if it doesn’t go in the weekly food parcels, it goes to other organisations, to hostels or a farm, all the options are exhausted before it ends up as waste. As a beneficiary collecting the food parcels I don’t feel stigmatised by it; you feel like family when you come to the centre. It’s a family vibe, you can speak to Farrah and Becky and you know you don’t have to hold back. It’s a free space to express yourself.”
Nina Lengthorn, Estate Director of Regent’s Place
Nina leads a team of property management professionals for the Regent’s Place community of 14,000 workers and residents across our 13-acre campus. Nina has worked at Regent’s Place since June 2020 but has worked on other British Land projects for 20 years. She started her career working for Unilever and trained to become a specialist in sensory science and also lived in Beijing, China working for the British Embassy. Outside of work she loves to ride her motorbike and bakes (she is also trained in cake decorating and sugarcraft).
Inspiring women from Broadgate
Safia founded Women’s Inclusive Team, a non-profit organisation, run by women to support vulnerable residents living in Tower Hamlets, in 2005. Since then it’s grown from strength to strength offering women’s projects such as English as a second language course and employment training; children’s projects which include mentoring and youth retreats and childcare that focuses on learning through play. Most recently, they have pivoted to a food bank during the pandemic.
Safia has degrees in Community Development and Public Policy from Birkbeck University and is also a qualified Mental Health Trainer (Mental Health First Aid Youth/Adult, ASIST and SafeTalk). Safia is an Independent Board Director of Tower Hamlets Homes, a BAME Tower Hamlets Commissioner, an Independent Police Advisor and is on the service board committee for Poplar Harca. She is also co-chair of the Tower Hamlets Independent Prevent Advisory Group. Safia grew up and loves working in Tower Hamlets and is passionate about supporting women in hard to reach communities.
A service user of Women’s Inclusive Team, Mrs Quratulain Majeed gives a first-person perspective on why the projects and support provided by the organisation are so vital in the Tower Hamlets community.
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