MEWSo aims to defend and protect women from violence both at home and in the wider community

Read the latest news and updates from MEWSo 

May, 2020
Hip, hip, horray, MEWSo is 10 years old in May. Read the message from the Executive Director and look out for news on how you can help us celebrate. We have a new project for isolated women, in partnership with the BME Health Forum. We will be introducing you to our staff and their work, now and over the coming months, and we have advice on Staying Safe if you're experiencing domestic abuse. We've begun our new workshop
on Art and Crafts for any women wanting to exercise and explore their artistic side, and there's a report of our recent art appreciation lecture and our cooking workshops.
Remember, our Zumba and Mindfulness sessions on Zoom have changed their start times, so be sure not to miss them. Finally, please help us spread the word, we are always on the look out for more volunteer befrienders. Cheers!
Newsletter written and edited by Audrey Thompson, Communications Coordinator
Halaleh Taheri,
Founder and Executive Director of MEWSo

Happy 10th Birthday, MEWSo

This month, it is 10 years since I established MEWSo.

I saw that there were many women from the Middle East and similar communities living in London who were desperate for help tailored to their specific needs.
For many different reasons these women had made London their home but were finding it hard integrating, finding work and housing, accessing education or understanding the welfare system. They needed support from women just like them. Women who speak their languages, know their communities and their cultural backgrounds. So I created MEWSo.
For 10 years now we have been helping women from a variety of ethnic backgrounds who face multiple disadvantages. We have built a reputation on providing awareness and support on culturally sensitive matters, even issues considered taboo in their communities. For 10 years we have been helping women trapped in polygamous
relationships, women being pushed into taking virginity tests or having hymenoplastic surgery. And for 10 years we have been campaigning against discrimination, inequality and the exclusion of women within their own communities and in society at large. 

In 2020, we celebrate - not just MEWSo's survival, but its flourishing.
We are helping more women than before, from many different ethnic backgrounds, offering them more services, workshops and activities than before, all of it tailored and appropriate to them and their needs.
And, though our services have had to adapt, and adapt quickly, to Covid-19 and the era of social distancing, we have brought these women along with us and are gaining new clients along the way.

The pandemic has hit women from these communities hard. They are some of the most vulnerable, isolated people, difficult
to find and often overlooked by mainstream services, but MEWSo is still here for them. 

Finally, I would like to thank our staff and volunteers who, after 10 years, continue to give their all to MEWSo and our clients. I'd also like to thank our supporters and funders, too, who have stuck with us for the past 10 years and I hope will stick with us for 10 more.  

Help Us Celebrate

We want you to help us celebrate our birthday when our 'party' is aired on YouTube. 

Plans are being prepared to invite staff, supporters and other guests to a great Zoom party where we can all say cheers for MEWSO.
Once broadcast on YouTube, you can learn more about our work and hear the many messages of support and goodwill and help us mark our 10th anniversary in style.
As soon as the details are finalised, we'll let you know. Watch this space ... 

Working in Partnership

MEWSo is no stranger to working in partnerships with other organisations and is always keen to take on more. Its latest project, improving the mental health of isolated women in Westminster, is working with the BME Health Forum, the lead organisation. 
MEWSo's project will specifically target elderly women who are more isolated than usual, who have limited English and are unable to go out during the pandemic because they are a particularly high risk group. However, it will also include single mothers and women who are disabled or have underlying health issues or both.

Halaleh Taheri, MEWSo's Executive Director, said: "We are recruiting many more volunteers to befriend isolated women, with the aim of introducing these women to our social networks, our phone
chats and encouraging them to take part in our live activities and workshops." Read more about this and MEWSo's other partnership projects helping vulnerable women.
... And, talking about the BME Health Forum, read their recent interview with Halaleh Taheri on MEWSo's success in supporting clients during the pandemic. 

Please help us spread the word: Volunteers Wanted

If you're still furloughed or have some spare time on your hands, think about doing something meaningful. Become a volunteer befriender with MEWSo.

We're looking for befrienders to support isolated women frequently missed by mainstream services, and LBTQ+ women
often ostracised by their own comm-unities whether there's a pandemic or not.

If you can give us just a couple of hours of your time each week, and would like to give something back to the community, call: 07579 801 366 or email: Thank you.
Over the coming months, MEWSo will introduce you to our dedicated staff, explain their work and show you the kinds of women they help. Stay tuned ...

Introducing Zahra

Zahra Habri is MEWSo's Senior Domestic Abuse Advisor. A qualified advice and guidance officer, she has worked for the charity for five years. 

Zahra has always been a woman helping out neighbours and friends; speaking on their behalf; filling out their applications, even going to appointments with them. It would take up so much of her time that she decided to make it her career.
On meeting Halaleh, she was enthused to become first a volunteer and then a staff member, advising women about jobs and careers. However, as a mother of two and with past experience of domestic abuse, Zahra soon found that advising women going through similar situations she had, came more naturally to her. Read more about Zahra, her work and the women she helps.

Staying Safe During Lockdown & Beyond

Very quickly during the lockdown it was reported there had been a significant rise in the incidents of domestic abuse and domestic violence. All the organisations signed up to the Step Up Migrant Women (SUMW) campaign, including MEWSo, distributed messages on how to stay safe and how to help keep those you may be worried about, safe too.
Read the advice and tips provided and please share them with everyone you feel needs this help. If you need help and advice about domestic abuse, call MEWSo on 07958 145 666 or email: But if you are in imminent danger, leave immediately and call the police on 999. Let's take care of each other.
Sunday 17 May was International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia.

If you identify as LBTQ+ and need advice and support, get in touch. We have volunteer befrienders who can help, and several partner organisations we can refer you to if you have specific needs outside our expertise.

Call: 07579 801 366 or email:

New: Art & Crafts Workshop

Every Thursday at 2pm is MEWSo's new Art and Crafts workshop on Zoom. It is open to all women, including mothers with young children as their kids can join in, too! 

The workshop is an hour-and-a-half to two hours long with the first half hour dedicated to any children. The rest of the time will be just for adults. And, if ever you need to pop out of the Zoom class, you can pop right back in again so you don't have to miss out.
For more information and to register for the class call: 07579 801 366 or email: Release the artist within you.

Arts Appreciated

Several MEWSo clients and staff watched a live lecture by invited photographer and film- maker Jennie Lazenby, currently stranded in Greece. A lecturer at City and Westminster College, she talked about her career and how anyone passionate about the arts can make a career in it - as long as they're not looking to make it rich quick!

She was joined by partner Anne-Marie, a nurse, artist and art therapist, who exhibited her work at the Loudest Whisper exhibition at St Pancras Hospital. She showed the paintings she is currently working on that are keeping her sane while stuck so far away from home.
Keen amateur painter, Jasmine, also showed off the pictures she's painted on nearly every wall in her home (see right), including in the bathroom. A ready-made art galley, Jasmine was able, during the lecture, to get advice from Jenny and Anne-Marie on how to get her works exhibited publicly. 

Cooking Classes Go Down A Treat

MEWSo laid on six weeks of cooking classes that were moved onto Zoom at the beginning of the lockdown. 

Each week, the women had advanced notice of the ingredients they needed to
cook along with the Bangladeshi cook facilitator. Or they could simply watch and learn, and cook the dish for themselves later on.
The workshops came along at an opportune time to help the women socialise safely at the beginning of the lockdown, reducing their anxiety and emotional distress. 

They also learnt how to eat more healthily and cook dishes from different cultures. If you'd like to broaden your skills and learn new recipes, keep a look out for more cooking classes in the future.

Times Have Changed

Make sure you don't miss out. 

The times of our Mindfulness and Zumba classes have been moved to later in the day to take account of Ramadan.

Now, both start at 2pm with Mindfulness still taking place every Monday and Zumba every Wednesday. 
The classes are via Zoom, so if you don't know how to get access or are still having trouble connecting, call 07579 801 366 or email: for help. Also use this email if you have never visited these classes before and need to register. The facilitators will be in touch.

All classes are in English, with translations in Arabic and Farsi when needed. And you can pop in and out during the sessions if it better fits in with your day. Give it go!

Clear you mind and release your frustrations.

Lockdown may be easing but you still need to protect yourself. 
Don't take any chances. It's really not worth the risk.
Help promote MEWSo by liking and sharing our Facebook page and posts. Thank you.
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View the MEWSo website and donate. Thank you.Website

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Durham Road Resource Centre, 86 Durham Road,

London N7 7DT

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Middle Eastern Women and Society Organisation · Durham Road Resource Centre · 86 Durham Road · London, London N7 7DT · United Kingdom

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