MUSLIM WOMEN'S COLLECTIVE
Supporting and empowering the women's voice in Tower Hamlets...
Last year the Muslim Women’s Collective was commissioned to carry out independent waste surveys for the London Borough of Tower Hamlets, and we have been asked to do the same work in 2011. These surveys form part of an important nationwide programme of monitoring the cleanliness of the nation’s streets. They take place three times a year, over a two-week period each time.
We started by recruiting twenty local women, and one man, and then provided them with training in how to carry out the surveys. Working in pairs, the surveyors walk around the borough assessing the cleanliness of sections of roads and parks looking at the amount of waste, fly tipping and graffiti and grading what they see.
We asked Jahid, aged 19, and Helena, aged 23, about their experience of doing this work.
Both Jahid and Helena agreed that it was an easy job to do, and as brother and sister, they also felt that it was really enjoyable to be working together as a family. Jahid told us that “it is a great experience – we get to see new parts of the borough and find roads that we didn’t know existed. As well as grading the quality of cleanliness, we take pictures to back up our assessment and knowing this is part of a national programme makes us feel valued”.
Helena and Jahid are both students, and so are able to fit the work in around their studies. They both agreed that not only have they learnt new skills, but doing this work looks good on their CVs. When they first started doing the surveys, neither really took it seriously but as they have gone on to do more and more, and knowing that legally the records of their surveys have to kept for a minimum 5 years, they understand how important this work is.
When we asked them what the best part of doing the surveys was, they laughed and said that they get a lot of attention when they are carrying out the surveys and taking the pictures. They have had lots of people come up to them asking them about what they are doing, and Jahid told us that many of his friends at University wanted to do the surveys – but he is quite happy being the only man working with nineteen women!