10:30 PM June 1, 2022
A Tower Hamlets foster carer and charity founder are among those awarded in the Queen’s Birthday Honours.
Afia Choudhury received an OBE for her services to children.
It is not her first award either – in 2018, she was given The Fostering Network’s President’s Award for her contribution to care after fostering 27 children over 15 years.
Afia said she was initially confused at why she was receiving a letter from the Cabinet Office.
“After opening the letter, I needed to sit down as I was in shock,” she admitted.
“I needed to gather myself before believing that it was true.
“This means a lot to me to be recognised for the work that I do, the work that I absolutely love.
“There are thousands of people like me who do the same work, day in day out.
“I would like to accept this award to recognise how important fostering is and what it means for the thousands of children all over the country that need a safe, secure and loving home.”
Safia Jama, chief executive of charity Women’s Inclusive Team (WIT) which she founded in 2004, became an MBE for her services to the voluntary and charitable sector.
The charity, based in Bethnal Green, strives to improve the lives of black and ethnic minority women and their families.
Among their work during the pandemic, Safia and the charity organised more than 500 volunteers to support vulnerable residents in the borough by establishing a food bank, community kitchen and delivery initiative.
They worked with Barnardo’s to campaign for and provide dedicated support to ensure black children in the borough had equal access to education and support services during the pandemic.
Safia said: “I’m truly humbled to have been given such a title and being recognised on such a level will go down as one of the greatest highlights of my career.
“But, I know that our work is not done. I will continue to highlight the lives of black Muslim Somali women and their families who experience extreme inequality and racism.”
She also thanked her “WIT family” for giving thousands of hours “to ensure we take care of our vulnerable neighbours”.
Nazrul Islam, 58, was awarded a British Empire Medal (BEM) for services to the Tower Hamlets community during Covid-19.
According to his citation, he helped to found the Dorset Community Association and, during the pandemic, set up a community larder in partnership with Tower Hamlets Council.
This gave out more than 1,500 bags of groceries to residents suffering from food poverty and he liaised with local catering companies to provide more than 1,200 fresh meals to older shielding residents and people with disabilities twice a week.
Caro Howell, who was head of education and public events at the Whitechapel Gallery between 2005 and 2011, was awarded an MBE for services to museums.
She is now the director of the Foundling Museum in central London.