IGP Stories

Empowering the community: mental wellbeing of Muslim women in North Kensington


Maysa Mohamoud

27 November 2023

Last month, I had the incredible opportunity to co-host a showcase event for a citizen social science project I have been part of, presenting our findings to key community groups and stakeholders. The project is a collaboration between the Institute for Global Prosperity at UCL, The University of Manchester, and Westway Trust.

Over the past few months, together with a group of local residents from my area, we worked collectively to establish what ‘The Good Life in North Kensington’ means to us and how we as a community can achieve it.

Contributing to my community has long been a personal goal, and engaging in citizen science has not only allowed me to give back to my local community but has also provided an insight into the intricacies of research.

Citizen social science, for those unfamiliar, is the synergy of community engagement and research. It empowers individuals to actively contribute to meaningful research endeavours and helps to bridge the gap between academia and our communities.

There are nearly 20,000 Muslims living in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea. The impact of the Grenfell fire in 2017 was felt deeply by the entire local area, and leaves the Muslim community heartbroken to this day. 70% of the tower’s residents and 54% of those who passed away were Muslim, showing how expansive this network of grief is in a community that already stigmatised mental wellbeing.

I chose to explore this, specifically in the context of Muslim women. Through the poignant narratives of the remarkable individuals I had the privilege to interview, a shared hope was made extremely apparent - the need for open conversations. They sought spaces where mental well-being conversations could flow freely, devoid of fear, spaces where awareness and understanding could flourish.

As a Muslim woman myself, I know all too well that members of this community feel incredibly under-represented in the mental health space. And this is testament to the fact that there are different ethnicities, genders, age groups, religious groups and so on who feel unseen and unheard when it comes to the provision of health and social care.

Now more than ever we need to cater to all, and carefully listen to the needs of different groups. As a result of this project, I've been invited as a guest speaker at a UCL MSc lecture and a round table discussion on mental health with Westway Trust and the NHS, and I will continue advocating for mental wellbeing for the betterment of us all.

I would like to thank the mental well-being professionals at Al Manaar Counselling Service and Community Living Well, and the inspiring, passionate Muslim women I had the opportunity to talk to. I also express my deepest gratitude to the teaching team Hannah Sender, Saffron Woodcraft, Constance Smith, Sarah Smoured and Suraya M. for their unwavering support and guidance throughout the project. I dedicate my work to my mother, my sisters and all the people in my life who I love. To my dear friend, Nur Huda El-Wahabi, who passed away in the Grenfell fire with her family, the martyrs, the survivors, the bereaved, and my community.

About Maysa Mohamoud

Maysa is currently studying Biomedical Sciences at King’s College London and is also a citizen social scientist.

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