Chairperson : Roshniben Patel (Wolverhampton)
Vice Chairperson : Rekhaben Shah (Wembley)
Secretary : Duxaben Patel (Dudley)
Asst. Secretary : Minaben Patel (Dudley)
Treasurer : Beena Patel (Wembley)
Asst. Treasurer : Darshana Patel (Walsall)
Manjuben and Rukiben (Bilston)
Gitaben, Illaben and Maniben (Dudley)
Hemaben, Kantaben and Sandhiyaben (Leicester)
Calavatiben and Niranjanaben (Sandwell)
Nita and Rina (Walsall)
Lataben and Lilaben (Wembley)
Champaben, Manjuben, Kokilaben and Vaishali (Wolverhampton)
Since its revival in April 2018 the Women’s Forum (WF) has been a proactive group aiming to provide our community with informative and engaging events. This is no mean task given that we are made up of members from different areas. Coming together for meetings and planning is quite a challenge. Of course, modern technology plays a part and we have managed long distance liaising. The mix of personalities and experiences means that meetings and communication is lively! Working with interest and enthusiasm as well as to each other’s strengths has given us staying power, enabling us to host and deliver events which are definitely not restricted to women. It is good to see the menfolk attend and lend their support too.
Although we had a few meetings leading up to it, our initiation was the popular interactive Generation Gap debate held at The Sitara Hall, Wolverhampton, in April 2018. This gave us first-hand insight of what women in our community face. Many spoke candidly about their experiences, the hurdles and struggles of the past and their concerns about the future. Issues that cross generation and gender were raised. From this we learnt that the Women’s Forum Committee had a part to play, providing a platform for discussion and debate about what matters to women in our community.
Since our event in April 2018 we held a National Charity Garba on the 24th November 2018 at the Walsall Mandir. This was an extremely successful and well supported event where our community came out in good numbers; from different towns. It was wonderful to see that traditional events such as this one still hold their charm over us all – not a hint of a generation gap divide to be seen on the night, as everyone danced to the tunes of Ghanshayam Garba Group. A huge thank you to Walsall Samaj and the Women’s Forum team responsible for getting the venue ready for a ‘sold out’ event, largely due to the efforts of those who took on the task of selling tickets.
The charities we chose to support were, Roshni Women’s Refuge in Birmingham – an organisation supporting women who are victims of domestic violence and DKMS who are an organisation dedicated to fight against blood cancers and blood disorders. They were invited to set up on the night and had potential donors queue up for a painless ‘cheek swab’ to be taken and to register themselves as blood stem cell donors. Both charities received £250 each from the proceeds of our event. Of course, an event is incomplete without raffle ticket sales. Thank you to the donors for their generosity, and in particular, to BABA Holidays who have supported us for both our recent events.
Having considered topics for discussions from our very first event, 28th April 2019 saw us host Chai & Chat at Shree Mandhata Sahayak Mandal, Leicester to whom we are most grateful. Thank you so much to the fantastic team who catered for us and helped in every way possible, to deliver this event successfully.
The morning comprised of an interactive session on a couple of topics. The first being Bereavement and its impact. Although a difficult topic to discuss openly, many women shared their experiences and talked about the impact bereavement had on them as women, in our naturally conservative community. There are many taboosand many more little understood rights and rituals; connected with the passing of loved ones and bereavement. The role that our Brahmans have in the process, was talked about at great length. It was a positive discussion in that women were able to air their views with confidence. Time was the only limiting factor to this much needed session.
The second topic of the morning was on Mental Health. It was led by Consultant Psychiatrist, Dr Hari Subramaniam. He linked the previous topic and continued to talk about the impact of bereavement and loneliness as well as other mental health issues which are affecting people in greater numbers today.
He advised us to try and be more open about matters that we as a community often shy away from; for fear of being stigmatised. A big thank you to Dr Subramaniam for his time and invaluable information. It may have been even more engaging if we would have had a Gujarati interpreter.
All in all, we felt that the many who attended from various towns, went home having learnt something and with much to think about. Which is why the Women’s Forum is here to serve, in a way that gives us food for thought and helps us to address issues that women in our community face.
After a delicious lunch, prepared and served by the Leicester Mandal volunteers, the hall was transformed into a mehfil venue! We swayed to the tunes of Gautam and his Party of talented musicians who transported us back in time with their nostalgic numbers and of course many a modern song was sung too, with enthusiastic audience participation! It was the perfect end to a Women’s Forum event.
We would like to thank the AMSUK working committee for their unreserved support of us and their interest in and encouragement of what we do as a Sub Committee.
It would be amiss of us if we did not thank our predecessors, for having paved the way for us. Your support is always welcome.
Thank you to you, our Mandhata Community for helping us realise our aims and objectives of uniting our samaj and bringing women of all generations together, talking about and tackling issues for the common goal of moving forward and embracing the future in a positive way.
“Amazing things happen when women help other women”.
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