Wahida Shaffi- Coordinator

Wahida Shaffi- Coordinator

Who are you and what do you do for Near Neighbours ? 

My name is Wahida Shaffi and I am the Coordinator for the Near Neighbours Programme in West Yorkshire. I am also overseeing the development of six Catalyst Leadership Programmes in the North of England and the West Midlands. I hold the position of National Women’s Programme Lead with the Christian Muslim Forum where I have pioneered their national women's programme conducting research exploring the issues affecting women of faith across the UK amongst other events. I am also producing some short films capturing some of the Near Neighbours funded projects in Leeds. 

What have you done in the past?

I have over 20 years’ experience of working with diverse and disadvantaged communities. I completed my MA in International Politics and Security Studies at the Department of Peace Studies at the University of Bradford. Since then I have gone on to facilitate, deliver training, complete research, and produce films on a wide range of issues related to equality, diversity, participation, gender, conflict and interfaith; both locally, nationally and internationally- including nations such as Sri Lanka, Israel, Palestine, Syria, Turkey, Romania.

I am a qualified Social Worker and Trainer (an associate of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development) and author of a book published by Policy Press titled, OurStories OurLives: Inspiring Muslim Women's Voices. My current areas of interest are creating spaces for young Muslim voices, participatory research, reconciliatory dialogue, and supporting advising women and multi-faith groups across the country.

Why did you want to work for Near Neighbours?

Having worked in the community and voluntary sector and developed numerous projects organisations for a very long time, I wanted to take on a role that supported local communities to develop their own projects and ideas. A programme that encourages positive interactions even though they may be challenging is important. The need for open and safe spaces to discuss concerns and ways of working together, especially in a climate of fear and mistrust, is extremely important. 

Why do you love the area you work in?

I believe in working with people of all backgrounds and being part of a process whereby I can support local people with creative ideas. We live in a society where communities across West Yorkshire and beyond are facing considerable challenges. I have the privilege of meeting inspiring women, men and young people – of all faiths and none – who are doing their best to offer messages of hope, challenge misconceptions, and create projects that impact the communities and neighbourhood that they live in. 

Author: Mr Tim Burton-Jones

Date: 13 July 2015