We have spoken with three inspiring women who work, live and volunteer in and around Paddington Central.
We’re marking International Women’s Day on 8 March with a conversation on womanhood in the 21 Century featuring three amazing women Lena, Brenda & Elizabeth who work, live and volunteer in and around Paddington Central.
As part of the day’s ongoing role to raise awareness about women's equality, lobby for accelerated gender parity and fundraise for female-focused charities, we commissioned London-based documentary maker and portrait photographer Joyce Nicholls and director and photographer Daisy Gaston to create an insight into these women’s achievements and lives.
Watch the short film below and hear more from the inspiring women changing our local community through their work and vision.
Plus hear from local women based within our sister neighbourhoods: Broadgate and Regents 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.
Justine Salmon: Divisional Director at ABM (Broadgate service partner)
Justine explains about her role: “I started in the industry in 2002 by pure accident, I had left the MET police for a career break to raise my children when I was asked by a friend if I could do flexi working in a shared role as a facilities manager during term time. I stayed with that company over 13 years before joining ABM in 2015. I’m a school governor and my role within the school is safeguarding. I am passionate about people development and have the ABM technical apprentices under my wing as well as being instrumental in delivering our JEEP program.”
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