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Kadijatou’s success story – How WICT and the Northam Local Conversation project have changed her life

The individuals name has been changed for anonymity. Kadijatou, who runs the one of the club’s, has found the Northam Local Conversation Project and WICT hugely beneficial; they have changed her life dramatically. Kadijatou shares her story.

Tell us a bit about your background.

Before coming to WICT and getting involved with the Northam Local Conversation project, my life was not good. I was very lonely, I had lots of problems and was upset all the time. I cried a lot when I was alone and sometimes thought of killing myself; but Alhamdullilah I am fine now. At that time I didn’t have a lot of friends and I found it hard to do anything. I froze. Sometimes I would go out, do my shopping and then I would come home and stay indoors. My face looked big, people saw me and thought I was fat but it was all sadness. I was really down, I was in a very bad place. A friend mentioned WICT to me. She told me getting involved with the community changed her life so I wondered if this could help me too. It certainly did change my life.

How did you come across WICT?

After my friend mentioned how community connection changed her life and told me a bit about Abdoulie and WICT, she introduced me to Abdoulie. Then I spoke to Abdoulie and he invited me to a meeting and asked me if I wanted to join Northam Local Conversation. He told me Charlie the then chairman was looking to set up a club and asked whether I would like to meet him and other locals. I thought that it was a great opportunity to get involved with things in Northam. We had a meeting at Northam Community Centre. I told Charlie I would be interested to run the club. He was delighted and said he would work with me to set it up. This is how I started to get involved.  I saw that the club would create a great platform for inviting people to enjoy lovely food and help each other out. It would create a sense of community. For me it wasn’t just building friendships and community spirit but also sharing experiences and offering advice between fellow neighbours. So I took up the opportunity.

Northam Breakfast Club - group photo

What groups and events have you set up or participated in?

As mentioned, I decided to run the club every Monday, and I really enjoy this. I have learnt a lot about different cultures and trying foods from different countries is really nice. I love making the food, seeing people talk to each other and sharing problems and solutions. I love the fact that the group creates an opportunity to talk to each other and builds peoples’ confidence.

I also have participated in many groups including English classes, the Swimming Club and the Sewing Club and I have also learnt how to play volleyball.

I did attend cycling when it was running. It benefitted me greatly. I have now learnt to ride a bike. It built my confidence and I now help my friends learn to ride a bike.

I have also helped to arrange many half term events including various Northam Fun days and community activities including ladies community get together, holiday events, and half terms events. I often help with the food preparation and raffles. There is too many events to mention that I have helped with!  On top of this, I have attended employability training, first aid, and food hygiene training.

What benefits have you found from working with WICT and getting involved with Northam Local Conversation? How have they impacted you?

I am healthier now. The sadness has gone now. My health is so much better now than before. I am a lot happier and less stressed. I can talk to people a lot more and I frequently invite people to my group and the other local conversation groups. I have a lot more friends and my life is very busy now and fruitful. I explore different things outside Northam and I see many opportunities. I have a positive mind set and I am willing to make a difference in the community.  Some people say they do not recognise me now because I look different. I look slimmer and more beautiful. My face has changed and it looks slimmer and happier.

Before I used to rely heavily on others. I have now learnt to be less dependent on others; I make my own decisions, I am more confident and I appreciate my independence. I see people now and they have problems and if I can help them it makes me happy.

Through undertaking employability training, I have increased my confidence. I was able to create my CV, and as a result managed to get a job for myself. That was a great feeling.

The community work allows me to learn different skills; my social skills have improved a lot. I can talk to anyone now and I can make eye contact with anyone. My English has improved a lot and I can make a lot of things with my hands. Now I am able to plan my day better making sure everything I am doing in the community fits in. 

During International Women’s Day last year, I was awarded a certificate for all the voluntary work I have done within the community. These certificates were given to individuals who had contributed the most. I was really proud of this and I am motivated to do more. It was a great feeling.

How has local conversation helped you?

I feel I have a say in how things in Northam run now. I help to shape and make things happen, all because of the Local Conversation. Without it, I feel Northam is dead and people just don’t know what to do to make their lives better. It has made our lives better and more exciting. I am grateful. Now, I can proudly tell my new friends I am from Northam and can tell them about all the exciting things happening changing people’s life. I feel I am in control of many things in my life now. Working with Abdoulie is wonderful. He is calm, kind, respectable and tries to help you however he can. He has also taught me how to improve my English. By watching how he manages people and listens to them, I have learnt to be better with people. He always advises me to be patient and actively listen to people as that helps a lot.

        

What is your plan for the future?

I am helping with an International Women’s Day event coming up in March and a party for Eid. All to bring the community together and feel at home. We will go great things if we continue to grow like this as a community. I feel the local conversation funding is making a huge difference in our lives. I want to work with the rest and making sure we make best use of it. I also felt like we need to continue developing our skills to be able to deliver the projects successfully.

I am currently taking English classes at WEA (Worker’s Educational Association) and City College to continue to improve my reading and writing.

I have left my job to focus on personal development but I aim to find work again. I would love to learn horse riding. I also would like to run more groups in Northam going forward.

We would like to thank Kadijatou for her time in sharing her story.

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