Igniting Summer Changemaker Stories – Our Speakers

Cover image with speaker headshots
Anj Handa FRSA

Anj Handa FRSA

IWC Founder, Lobbyist, Speaker & Writer

Described in Forbes as one of ‘10 Diversity And Inclusion Trailblazers You Need To Get Familiar With’, and by i-news as ’a bloody brilliant woman‘, our Founder Anj has worked in social impact and inclusion since 2003.

She launched Inspiring Women Changemakers in 2016 following her experiences of leading a global legal and media campaign.

Her Change.org petition attracted 126,500 supporters and the attention of the media, MPs and other personalities, including Richard Branson.

Anj is passionate about getting voices heard and encourages those around her to speak up: for themselves, for others and for social issues, so she set up IWC to give changemakers the skills, connections and launchpad to make change.

Anj was one of Grant Thornton’s 100 Faces of a Vibrant Economy 2018 and AFSA Positive Action Award winner in 2017.

She has most recently been featured in Generation Share, a visual storybook which showcases the work of 200 changemakers from around the world.

Carrie Combe

Carrie Combe

The Wake Up Method.

Carrie very recently joined The Wake Up Method as Business Operations lead - the behind the scenes support of Barry’s vision to ‘Democratise Growth’.

Carrie has led a varied career, predominantly in project management - the most recent being with WPP as Global Programme Manager on one of their top ten accounts, healthcare giant GSK.

A keen advocate of lifelong learning, Carrie strongly believes in the opportunities self-motivated education presents to enhance social inclusion, active citizenship, personal development & self-sustainability.

She is currently studying ‘Creativity History, Theory, & Philosophy’ part-time through Cambridge University, with a particular focus on how our understanding of Creativity has evolved over time from being an act of divine inspiration all the way through to being considered a commercial imperative for employers.

Mussarat Rahman

Mussarat Rahman

Community Artist, Poet, Festival Maker

Mussarat Rahman has been a community artist/networker for around 15 years and is dedicated to representing asylum seekers and refugees through both her artistic practice and volunteering.

She has volunteered with Bradford-based BIASAN for 11 years, which she says has changed her outlook on life. She uses her personal experiences as a tool in her work, which has been gaining increasing recognition.

Her passion and heart lie with supporting cross-cultural communities in Bradford and beyond, particularly those that face destitution.

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 her face.

Mussarat has a keen vested interest in speaking out for the integrated, mixed race communities that she encounters, who need both a platform and a voice.

Her newest initiative, in collaboration with SBC Theatre is Intercultured! – a new festival made with up to 40 Sanctuary Seekers to provide an accessible platform where you will be provided support and a platform to showcase theor skills, abilities and talents via live art, performance art, poetry, cultural dance, music and more.

Sanctuary Seekers will be encouraged to create the stories they want to tell in a friendly, social setting and their work will be presented to audiences as part of Intercultured Festival later in 2020.

Sharon Burke

Sharon Burke

Founder, James Burke Foundation

Sharon Burke is the founder of The James Burke Foundation and winner of the Social Impact Star Award in our 2019 Igniting Inspiration campaign. She founded the organisation when her only son James took his own life in April 2017.

James played rugby league at an international level and was a law student at Leeds University. His death created a burning desire to change society, make a difference and to be heard.

Her mission is to remove the stigma around mental health issues, encourage debate, and offer educational interventions so that whole societies have ownership for mental health wellbeing through early intervention and discussion.

The Foundation makes no distinction between gender, race or any other label. As an equality professional, Sharon’s belief is that everyone has responsibility for mental health within their society. She says that services offered have been dramatically cut and are, overall, not fit for purpose.

She believes that services often wait until people are in crisis and adopt a ‘one size fits all’ approach, ignoring the fact that the incidence of suicide is rising year on year.

Her approach has empowered a diverse range people to speak out, to share stories and develop coping mechanisms.

Lilly Lewis

Lilly Lewis

End Domestic Abuse Champion

Lilly Lewis is last year’s winner of the prestigious Emma Humphreys and Centre for Women’s Justice Award. She first contacted our Founder Anj Handa in 2019 when she was still in open prison for conspiracy to defraud.

Lilly became addicted to drugs and alcohol from the age of 15, dating partners who would abuse her. After one especially violent relationship ended when her partner was jailed for the abuse, she became involved with a gangland enforcer.

He had access to her work laptop and all her emails, forwarding data to his friends, who would ring customers of the company she worked for and scam them.

Lilly agreed to open a bank account and a limited company in her name. She had an idea of what was going on by this stage, but she says that it was too easy to turn a blind eye - nobody was getting shot or killed, so it didn’t feel like a crime. After the fraud was exposed, Lilly was sentenced for seven years.

In prison, the more women Lilly spoke to, the more she realised that most of them had something in common - like her, they were victims of domestic violence, but hadn’t felt able to seek help for fear of social services taking away their children.

Lilly is now clean, has served her time and is about to start work in domestic abuse support for young people. She describes prison as a ‘gift of time’ which she used to turn her life around.

Madeleine Julian

Madeleine Julian

Co-Founder and Director, Digibete

Maddie is the Co-Founder of DigiBete, an award winning digital platform and App supporting young people and their families to better manage their Type 1 Diabetes through much needed free support, awareness, education and training resources and digital tools for young people and their families in the UK and in over 114 countries.

The video content is designed and made with families living with the condition to help support the wider type 1 diabetes community by extending the reach of clinical teams onto a universal online platform supporting a community of more than 55,000 users.

Maddie and husband Rob identified the need for such a service in 2016, when their toddler son was rushed to hospital and later diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes. They quickly realised that managing type 1 diabetes in childhood is complex and very challenging.

While they were able to find information online for adults, there was limited age and milestone appropriate content targeted at children and young people and their families.

With their existing video production and teaching skills, they decided to create a social enterprise which would help other families in a similar situation to access the vital information they needed.

Since the launch of the full DigiBete platform in 2018, DigiBete as a social enterprise has gone from strength to strength. This January, DigiBete launched its Specialist support and education app, securing support and funding from NHS Diabetes Programme to enable every child and their family living with Type 1 Diabetes in England to have access to digital peer support, structured education, better clinical communication and personal record system.

Paul Abraham

Paul Abraham

Founder, Heading Onwards

Paul Abraham played rugby at amateur level before becoming a successful coach for under 14/15 players.

His teams went on to win championships and cups at club level and had involvement at county level. Paul then moved to the professional level, where he worked as fitness coach and match day physiotherapist.

He later undertook Security roles for performers ranging from Bryan Adams to Pavaroti!

Having experienced mental health issues since childhood and being five minutes from suicide in 2014, since joining Inspiring Women Changemakers, Paul is now a registered Mental Health First Aider and owner of Heading Onwards, as well as the President of the Northern Boxers Federation. He even gave a talk at the House of Lords recently!

Paul has benefited personally from IWC’s resources which help to guide, motivate and bring clarity when facing new or challenging situation, and coaching from our Founder Anj Handa.

He says that however independent and strong you are, there is always a point where you need some expert guidance and this is where IWC goes the extra mile – with warmth and integrity. Paul is the sponsor of our Igniting Inspiration Campaign to showcase women changemakers in the North of England.

Minoti Parikh

Minoti Parikh

Founder, TPL Experiences

Minoti is a semi-professional classical Indian dancer, international Master of Ceremonies and former sports TV presenter.

Together with Anj, she is delighted to bring you Emerge - a transformational online coaching programme, embodied through movement and inner change work, created to help you emerge in your own way.

It’s designed to help you uncover your true expression and tap into your creative energy by engaging in deep conversations, anchored through the medium of simple but powerful classical Indian dance.

Each chapter within the programme represents an element – earth, fire, air and water – and are designed to give you the practical skills to navigate life with greater confidence and ease.

Anj and Minoti have taken this journey themselves, stepping up to bigger platforms. We’d love to help you tap into your own inner power – with our support.

You’ll benefit from a taster of their Fire programme at Igniting Summer.

Join Inspiring Women Changemakers

We’re a global, inclusive movement of people who want to see the world become a safer, fairer place for women, wherever they live and whatever they do.

Bring your heart, brainpower, and connections to our community. Because when we work together and speak up about the policy and social issues that hold women back, we don’t just amplify our own voices, we advocate for those whose voices are rarely heard.

The incredible people like you within IWC join up to connect, collaborate, and share their expertise and learning. We’ll make introductions, help to build your campaign, and open doors for you. 

Individuals can become members of our community by making an annual pledge of just £35. Join us!

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