MUSLIM WOMEN'S COLLECTIVE
Supporting and empowering the women's voice in Tower Hamlets...
In 2010, the London Borough of Tower Hamlets set aside some funding which was to be used to deliver services that the residents of the borough voted for. A large number of residents voted for part of the money – known as the ‘You Decide’ fund – to be spent on recruiting and training women to become qualified lifeguards. At that time there were very few women lifeguards, and this meant that not all of the borough’s swimming pools could offer women only swimming sessions. The popularity of these sessions was and remains very high, so large numbers of residents were anxious to see more women becoming lifeguards.
The Muslim Women’s Collective took the lead on recruiting women from across the borough to try out as lifeguards, and at the same time after completing her degree in Ancient History, Jennifer Devenport moved from her native Liverpool to Tower Hamlets and as a female resident she was eligible to apply for a place on the training programme.
Jenny saw the programme advertised in East End Life. At the time she was temporarily working on a market stall, and since she loved swimming, she applied and was accepted onto the course. Apart from swimming ability, lifeguards have to have strength and speed and Jenny had all of these. She was one of the first women to pass the nationally accredited National Pool Lifeguard Qualification.
Since qualifying in March 2010, Jenny has been working on a permanent full-time basis with Greenwich Leisure Limited, which runs the borough’s swimming pools, and during her time there she has been promoted to Senior Recreation Assistant, with the possibility of more promotion coming her way.
Although she will be working part-time from September – Jenny has successfully signed onto a Postgraduate Certificate of Education teaching programme – she is grateful to the Lifeguarding programme for everything it has provided her.
She told us that, “not only did I pass the qualification, but I also became a qualified first-aider and my confidence has increased ten times over. I would definitely recommend the programme to other women. I really believe that I would not have had the confidence to apply to become a teacher if I had not taken this opportunity”.
Since Jennifer qualified, the Muslim Women’s Collective has run two more lifeguard qualification programmes with another sixteen women successfully gaining the qualification and becoming employed throughout the borough.