Mussarat Rahman has been nominated by Maggie Pearse of volunteer-led refugee and asylum-seeker organisation BIASAN.
Maggie says “We’ve never employed staff, nor had major funding. Despite this, we cater for upwards of 150 people every week, running English classes, a Womens Club and drop-in, hot food, activities, a storage depot for second-hand items, and a legal service.
Mussarat has been with us for well over ten years. She originally came on secondment from Bradford Community Arts but when they lost their funding she continued as a volunteer.
She’s worked with our members on a number of exhibitions of writing, painting and photography which have received regional acclaim. Mussarat has also played a pivotal role in organising walks and residentials in the Yorkshire Dales. BIASAN would honestly not be the organisation it is without her unstinting hard work.”
Who have you helped?
Mussarat says “I have been a community artist/networker for about 15 years or more. I took to volunteering when I was younger and as I got older ended up at Biasan. I have been here 11 years now and it’s changed my outlook on life. I have also been shaped by my personal experiences, which I use as a tool in my work.
My experiences and my lifestyle have influenced me on every level. I love working with cross-cultural communities, it’s my passion and where my heart is. Through our group activities, I have worked across communities in Bradford and beyond, particularly those that face destitution.
As part a team of many, I’ve networked far and wide on behalf of the organisation and have established some strong relationships which help our group function better.
I’m speaking up as a single Asian female who doesn’t conform to society’s standards of what represents a woman and against the prejudices that single Asian females like me face. I have a keen vested interest in speaking out for the integrated, mixed race communities that I encounter, who need a platform and a voice.”
“I have tried various mediums when working across communities, such as Arts, voice, video, performance and networking. As an artist, I have created specific artwork that resonates at a certain level and carries messages of global unity and compassion to evoke understanding and empathy for causes that are current in society. As a community development worker, I look at health and wellbeing and integrate that into residentials and day trips, which are so refreshing.”
What have you learnt? Any challenges?
“I’ve massively changed. If I look at myself 10 years ago, I was just a child. But through hands-on experience and sticking to my projects whether it was good or bad experience, I’ve learned a lot about me, my strengths and what I thought were weaknesses but weren’t really. Life will always be challenging, but learning to be adaptable is key to being successful. Having a solid, reliable team to work with is key too.”
“I always have something in the pot: I am working on putting a few collaborative projects together. I am sourcing connections and other people to work with. I am looking for sponsorship, funding and networks that will be useful.”
What advice, contacts or resources would help you?
“Contacts with other change makers, artists, inspirers and people who have common goals is always a good place to start, especially over a cup of tea or coffee. And anyone who wants to throw funding my way is welcomed!”
Why we’re sharing these stories
An individual or organisation from each of our five categories will be recognised at our Igniting Inspiration recognition event in November, but we want to publish all relevant stories to spread awareness of all the positive work that goes on in the North!