CS 9

Servicing & empowering local communities


Case Study 9


Bilkis came from a strict family and wore a full veil of her own choice. When she was first approached by our outreach workers she was not keen on coming to Hibbert. She was clearly a very intelligent woman and she told us that it just wasn’t culturally acceptable for her to attend learning centres.


We invited Bilkis to the centre for a chat and we talked through her fears about mixed classes and her prayer times being compromised. We assured her that cultural sensitivity was paramount to us and that we strive to make the centre culturally sensitive to ensure that people who would not normally engage have a safe and trusted place to go.


Bilkis wanted to understand the ethics of the centre and challenged us on some of the activities that were being delivered, such as the community choir. We explained that the centre belonged to all sections of the community and just as we would cater for her needs, we also catered for others’ needs. It was explained that all people’s values differ and we do not have any issues with that unless people try to impose their values on others.After this discussion, and after talking to a range of women at one of the coffee mornings, Bilkis agreed to join our ECDL Class, which is delivered at the centre by the University of Bolton. As the weeks went by, Bilkis had many more open discussions with our tutors and staff. Her opinion of working as a volunteer and moving into education and employment gradually changed as she began to see that these things could be achieved without her compromising her religious beliefs.


Bilkis is one of our many success stories and moved on to study further and to finally find work at the Valley Community School. In our recent consultation with service users, Bilkis told us that if it wasn’t for Hibbert, she would still be a housewife without any ambition to pursue education or employment. She is now also an excellent role model in our community for other religious women like herself.


Creating positive cultural changes is a key part of what Hibbert is aiming to achieve constantly in the community.There are many other changes in the community that Hibbert campaigns for as well (such as compulsory CRB vetting for all people working in local madrassas with children - including volunteers) that are not always popular, but the connections and working links that Hibbert has with elders in the community help to pave the way for civil debate.


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