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International Women’s Day: Faith Women’s Network founder on helping others during lockdown

To celebrate International Women’s Day, all week we are celebrating some of the women who have stepped up to support Southwark throughout the pandemic.

Hajia Saidat Oketunde runs her charity Faith Women’s Community UK, is the secretary of Astley and Cooper TRA, and vice chair of the Southwark Muslim Forum.

She also works as an education officer at Old Kent Road’s mosque and Islamic Cultural Centre. Her background is in psychology, and she holds a master’s in educational autism.

“At 6am every Thursday morning during lockdown I can be found in Tesco on the Old Kent Road, getting essentials into bags to be hand out to households who are elderly or vulnerable,” she says.

Volunteers at Old Kent Road mosque and Islamic Cultural Centre

“Ensuring these residents have their five a day essential foodstuff vital to keep them going through this pandemic.” 

“Myself and my team are mindful of the social isolation policy and always knock, leave the food parcels by the front door and step back to wait for the household to open the door and exchange a few cheery words before moving on to the next recipient.”

One of those she regularly supports is an elderly woman, over 80, who needs help with shopping, collecting medication and paying her bills. 

She has also helped struggling families throughout the holidays, whether through summer programmes for kids or by delivering 70 Christmas hampers to primary and secondary age children. She estimates she has delivered hundreds, if not thousands, of parcels since March last year. 

Looking to the future, she would like to focus on sport programmes to help women and young people get fit.

“One thing I will not stop is giving smiles to the face of the people through doing my friendly regular phone calls to those who are housebound and have now got used to hearing my voice once or twice a week.”


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