"I approached her with a smile and told her we’re here"
A Slough-based social media group has been supporting domestic violence victims during the lockdown.
Slough Modest Sisters (SMS) is a Facebook group and it provides a space where women can discuss their hardships and personal experiences through social media, email and the phone.
It now has over 2,800 members. Co-founder Roshtha Sadiq said that the group felt like they were “doing something for the community”.
She explained: “Just the other day, we had a non-Muslim lady who escaped domestic violence and didn’t know I was Muslim over the phone.
“But when she saw me, a Muslim woman, approach with food, she took a step back and was quiet and I approached her with a smile and told her we’re here for you.
“There was another woman going through such a horrible time that she said she was on the verge of suicide and you girls saved me.
“She kept attending the coffee mornings every month and wanted to go into catering.
“She started making Pakistani snacks and held a couple of stores in our bazaar. It’s those kind of things that have come out of these workshops we’re doing.
“If there’s a single parent or a lady who’s not able to get out or a victim of domestic abuse, she has a place to go, she has our contact details to say ‘I need your help’ and I can’t explain the feeling knowing you’re there to help people.”
Mrs Sadiq and co-founder Sima Bhatti supported the community during the first lockdown and had volunteers helping to cover different areas of Slough during the lockdown.
They helped with shopping, delivered prescriptions to the vulnerable and used their ‘Your Friend in Need’ service to help motivational workshops and online fitness.
The women have now been nominated for the Covid Hero award at the 2021 SHE Awards UK. They won the Community Award at the 2020 ceremony.
Mrs Sadiq said: “What’s beautiful about this nomination is we didn’t know about it and it’s a genuine nomination that’s come through people who have been affected by us and we’ve done something for them and they’re grateful.
“The word humble is all we’re feeling right now. People have seen what we’re doing rather than ask people to vote for us.”
SMS first launched in 2013 and began hosting workshops and coffee mornings. It went on to organise events to help women with their business.
It was initially called Slough Muslim Sisters but the name changed in 2018 to build a solid community for women regardless of ethnicity or race.
Mrs Sadiq added: “I had moved to Slough when I got married about 10 years ago and I didn’t know anyone here. I started working and started my little side business, doing little stalls.
“Then I met Sima who also has a small business and that’s how we met.
“We used to chat and thought there’s not enough places for women in Slough to go and make friends or a place where women can feel comfortable talking without being judged and fear of there’s gonna be men around.
“I come from a broken home and had a hard life growing up so there’s lots of experiences I could share with women and Sima has experiences of hardships as well.”
Berkshire Live reported that the SHE Awards UK ceremony is set for 2021, however, the date and venue remain unconfirmed due to Covid-19 restrictions.