Top Honour for WEA Community Champion
Rehana Mohammed, an Area Education Manager at The WEA has been awarded an MBE for services to the education of marginalised women in Rochdale and Oldham in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list.
Through her work with The WEA, Rehana helps the community overcome the multiple barriers they face in their daily lives. By raising the educational aspirations of the whole community individuals are able to learn the language that is essential for everyday life, enables them to help their children with their homework; build relationships with people in the local community and secure long-term, stable work.
Many of her students have emigrated to the UK from all over the world - Pakistan, Bangladesh, Syria, Kenya, Iran, India, Afghanistan - and often need to boost their English language skills. Others, born in the UK, are encouraged to participate and integrate in a way that engenders exemplary social cohesion.
Families are at the heart of Rehana’s approach to education and community development. Rehana has trained her team of tutors to act as she does, as a role model for aspiration and empowerment of the whole community.
Rehana was instrumental in setting up courses that enable women to build their skills in a range of vocational activities such as sewing and pattern making, so that they can clothe themselves and their children cheaply and many have gone on to set up their own business, creating local economic activity in an area with very many challenges.
Through word of mouth and the loyalty of past students Rehana has built her student-base and a massive community network. Many see her as a friend as well as a mentor and there is an excellent progression route for students to become volunteers and then tutors, just as Rehana did herself. Because of this work, the WEA is thriving in Rochdale and Oldham.
Rehana Mohammed, Area Education Manager at The WEA, said:
“It’s an absolute honour. I have so much pride for my community and for them to nominate me and to recognise my commitment to them is such a blessing.
“I’m truly honoured to have a job I love and I’m so proud of working for The WEA as they have enabled me to help my community. Life’s not easy in Rochdale and Oldham and there are a lot of hardships but at least with the WEA, there is always hope.
“Adult learning impacts so many areas of a person’s life and provides a life raft to a better future for so many people. The impact is not only on employability but their health and wellbeing, family life and community engagement. It brings communities together and it transforms lives.
“I started from nothing myself and what drives me to work hard is my family - my children, grandchildren, my WEA family and my community. I love to see the pride and confidence adult learning brings to people – that’s when I knew we’d started something special here.”
Ruth Spellman, CEO of the WEA said: “I’d like to offer heartfelt congratulations to Rehana on her MBE. The impact that Rehana’s work has on the confidence and skills of women in Rochdale and Oldham is incredible.
“The WEA prides itself on providing education that is within reach. Our committed education staff and tutors are experts at reaching into communities and working through partnership to meet the needs of those experiencing disadvantage. Within this cohort of excellence Rehana stands out like a beacon providing more hours of learning and leading innovative new projects as well as always making time to be there for the students and local community.
“Rehana enables progression to other institutions by setting up courses in safe neighbourhood spaces, networking with a massive number of other voluntary sector organisations and maximising the resource available to offer people a holistic experience that focuses on their needs. This is a hall mark of the strength of Rehana’s work.
“On behalf of The WEA I’d like to congratulate Rehana on her achievements, and thank her for her dedication.”
Watch Rehana's story here