Countdown to final exhibition

As the date for our final exhibition draws close, we spent a full afternoon at Blackburn Museum, exhibiting and mounting our work. We were a bit worried about some of our pieces, and Caroline (Curator at Blackburn Museum) helped us to come up with some creative ways to safely exhibit our pieces.

On Wednesday 19th February 2020, our exhibition preview was launched to the public. As it was the first day of unveiling our exhibition, we wanted to attend the day and present our project, to members of the public.

It did not go as we expected…

We thought it would be a quiet day and that nobody would be interested in our project.

But the opposite happened…One wonderful lady even got emotional.

One gentleman sat with us for a half hour and talked to us about BAME women and even gave Salihah one of his reference pictures for her research. He said he was an artist.

Another gentleman had us all amazed by his knowledge on the women we had been researching.

It was a worthwhile and rewarding day.

One young girl even decided she wanted to try on a hijab. She looked really cute 😉

Below are just some of the comments from the public.

We look forward to seeing you on Sunday 8th March 2020, at Blackburn Museum (2-4pm).

…live on 5 live

After the Onside Awards, I was invited on behalf of Strong Sisters to talk on a radio show with Nihal Arthanayake. 

For the first time in my Strong Sisters journey, I was extremely nervous. This was largely due to the fact that I was more comfortable and confident doing amazing things when I was  alongside the other members of Strong Sisters. The thought of being at a radio show alone still gives me the shivers months later. But thankfully I had the support of two Blackburn youth zone staff which kept me going along the way.

My nerves were finally at ease when I met the two other OnSide Awards winners who I was going to be on the show with.  One hour was a lot of talking, but I was just happy I didn’t have to do it alone. 

Before I even realised, the live show was nearly over.

Listening to the inspiring stories of the other two winners was breathtaking and it felt amazing to talk alongside them. 

The whole experience highlighted why it is so important to continuously fund youth zones around England in order for more young people, like Strong Sisters, to feel like they have a voice and can do anything they like. 


Awards Night ….

The Onside awards on Sunday 17th November 2019 was amazing and crazy. The Onside awards was at The Royal Albert Hall in London.

The Onside Awards was about all the Youth zones around the UK celebrating different awards.

On the Sunday morning, I got the bus from Oswaldtwistle to Blackburn then went to Blackburn Youth Zone to meet the staff and young people that were going to the Onside awards.

We got to The Royal Albert Hall by a coach (I had my packed lunch that I made at home then I fell asleep on the way there then I got woke up by Rihannon who’s 1 of the strong sisters) and there was alot of coaches from Blackburn Youth Zone.

On the journey to The Royal Albert Hall, we went to some services for food and drinks then got the coach to Royal Albert Hall. When we got to Royal Albert Hall, we stayed with each Youth Zone and got our seats which were on the front row, yay, and there was different performers which were: The Script, John Newman, Ms Banks and a London rapper. The Strong Sisters got nominated for the Health & Well-being award then we got shortlisted. At The Royal Albert Hall there was 4,000 people and I had never been to Royal Albert Hall before so I felt nervous but excited. At The Royal Albert Hall, we watched the different performers and when The Script and John Newman were on stage, I was waving and screaming (I nearly lost my voice!) because they are 1 of my favourite bands.

Then Prince Harry went on stage to represent the Health & Well-being award, he went through the nominations then he said the winner which was… Strong Sisters!!! (When we went on stage to get the award off Prince Harry, I was excited and nearly about to cry!

After the awards, we got the coach back home and I had some more food, went on my tablet for a bit and listened to music then went sleep but got woke up again by Rihannon. Then we arrived at Blackburn Youth Zone and I got taxi back home and arrived back home at midnight ish, I was very tired so I went sleep.


Like the London Residential, we were forced to wake up early.

We all met at Youth Zone with the group and the other nominees.

We travelled to Royal Albert Hall by coach, it was a long six hour drive but with my phone I survived.

On the way there, we saw Grenfell Tower and many graffiti arts on walls.

We arrived at our destination at 2pm and were told to stay in the VIP Area whilst waiting to go to take our seats. We were all very nervous but enjoyed ourselves there as we heard Stewart Lawrence talk.After that, we went to take our seats and the show began.

There was a lot of dancing and singing and talking by the performers and hosts.

My favourite part was when the health and wellbeing award winner was being called out.

Surprisingly, we won!

Prince Harry presented us with the award, we went backstage to take pictures and have a little chat.

The rest of the show was amazing but I was really hungry by the end of it. On the coach back we ate our sandwiches and slept on the coach. We arrived back in Blackburn at midnight, as soon as I got home I went to sleep.

We were very proud of ourselves that day and our youth workers were proud of us too.

Overall, the day was amazing even though it was an effort travelling.


We won!

It was a long and tiring journey to London but it was all worth it when Prince Harry called out Strong Sisters as winners of the ‘Health and Wellbeing’ Award.

It felt amazing. 

I don’t remember much of what happened after that point, except the fact that we met Prince Harry backstage and for the first time ever we were being interviewed about our Strong Sisters journey.

It felt surreal.

Everyone, including our families and BYZ, were really happy for Strong Sisters and the other nominees from Blackburn youth zone. 

The award, however, represents only a small aspect of the achievements of Strong Sisters.

As a group, we have finally been able to integrate well with each other and there is no longer the same awkwardness we felt at the beginning of our journey. 

Overall, the event was great and it was really inspiring to hear the stories of all the OnSide winners and nominees.


London Trip

Throughout our trip to London we went to many different places. Some of which included going to the House of Parliament, where we was supposed to meet with Kate Dove, the secretary of Kate Hollern. Kate Hollern is a member of parliament. However, after being let down by Kate Dove, we decided to explore Westminster. whilst exploring Westminster we took part in a protest about stopping china’s concentration camps.

one of the guards at Buckingham Palace.

We overcame some of our fears. For example, i used to be absolutely frightened of bridges. However, i managed to overcome this fear when i started to walk onto Westminster bridge. frightened and in tears i carried on about a quarter of the way until we went back.

On the last night of our residential we all took part a group discussion about the rights of women and how it has impacted us till this day. We all learnt new things about each other.

~ Jess–join-together-in-unity-by-Jess-Hargraves

My London experience – unfiltered ;-)

On the 22nd of October we went to London.

We had to wake up at 11.00 and arrived at Youth Zone at 12.00.

Our first train ride was from Blackburn to Preston. When we arrived at Preston in 20 minutes and then took another train from Preston to London.

When we were about to board our train we were yelled at and told to get off because we “arrived too late”, which was absolute rubbish because if the workers hadn’t stopped us we’d be on our train in time. Anyway, we waited for another train to arrive which took us to London. It was a six hour journey.

When we arrived at London, we were unsure as to how we were going to get to our house (where we were gonna stay in whilst in London). We ended up just walking there, when we arrived we all went to our rooms and unpacked a little.

After that we went into Leicester City using the tubes, where we went to eat. The tubes were very scary at first but we got used to them by the end of the trip. We explored Leicester City.

We went to some Lego shop where we took some pictures and even visited an M&M shop, where me Fatimah and Zunairah took a lot of pictures.

After a long day we went home. We lost some of the group on the way home and went to Sainsburys to do some shopping,  whilst they made their own way home.

When we arrived at the house we all went to sleep. Me, Zunairah, Fatimah and Jess were in one room whilst Imaan and Nat were in another room.

The next morning we woke up at 7.00am to pray. At 8.00 we went downstairs to have breakfast. For breakfast I had my yoghurt and some proper desi bread that Zainab made for us. After breakfast, we went to Buckingham Palace where we saw crowds of people. As I was born short and will die short, Imaan put me on her back so I could see what was going on behind gates. After this, we had to make our way through the crowd to get to the Parliament House. We arrived there with the intention of interviewing Kate Hollern’s secretary (‘Kate Dove’) who said that there had been a diary mix up and couldn’t meet either Kates. Because of this we were extremely upset, some were really angry and some were holding back a few tears.

Despite this, we still tried to make the most out of our day and went sightseeing. We visited Downing Street and the River Thames.

Opposite Downing Street we saw a protest which we also joined, they were protesting against the conflicts in Kashmir and they were protesting against the Concentration Camps which Muslims are being sent to in China.

When we went to River Thames we walked on London Bridge, where Zunairah and Jess nearly broke down, because of their fear of bridges.

After River Thames we went home and didn’t go out again until night, when we went to eat food. After we ate food, we came back home and went to bed. Some of the group decided to go out again that night and the Strong Sisters stayed at home. For me, that was the best part of the trip. We went to sleep peacefully that night. We woke up early in the morning again and went out for the last time to eat. After we ate, we explored Covent Gardens where me, Zunairah, Fatimah and Zainab went to explore the markets.

Although I was very tired I still got up to enjoy the rest of the time we had in London, unlike some people who were being so moody I just couldn’t be bothered with them.

After this, we went back home to pack our stuff and made our way to the train station using the tubes. From the tubes station we made our way to the train station. We arrived in Preston where we took another train to Blackburn, where we all separated and went home.


First time to London …

Tuesday 22nd October 2019

It was the first time many of us were going to London, so I had underestimated the length of the journey. When we reached Preston Train Station, we missed our first train which we expected was going to happen at some point but not as quickly as it did. We took our second train and before long we had already arrived.

Once we reached the apartments, all everyone was thinking about was FOOD. That’s when we went to Shake Shack which was probably the best burger and fries we had during the 3-day trip. By the time we finished eating, it was already dark, we had to make our final trip of the long day to Sainsbury’s to pick up ingredients for breakfast.

Wednesday 23rd October 2019

This was perhaps the most tiring day of the entire trip, which we were clearly unprepared for because of the lack of sleep we had the previous night. Our first stop was Buckingham Palace. All I can say is that it definitely sounded exciting with the shouts of the soldiers, and hooves of the horses. Sadly, because of my height I couldn’t actually SEE what was happening.

Soon enough, we saw the famous Big Ben. I think we all agreed the Big Ben we saw at Lego Land looked far better than the actual Big Ben which was under construction at the time.

Next stop was 10 Downing Street. There were too many people to have a good enough view of the place. But, in a matter of a few minutes, our focus quickly shifted to the opposite road across 10 Downing Street, and before long no one really cared about trying to get a picture of the Prime Minister’s home. We made our way to the loud chants of ‘China Lie. People Die!’ This was definitely a protest that affected everybody in the group in different ways. The persecution of Muslims in China was something we were only exposed to on our Instagram feeds. We were then given the chance to interview some of the girls who were protesting. For the first time, I experienced a sense of motivation and belonging with a group of people that I had never met before but we shared a common goal.

We then left to see the London Eye which was also not as exciting as I thought it would have been. This could have been because of the rain or just the fact that we were just so tired.

Soon we found ourselves taking a tour around the Houses of Parliament. We learnt about the sacrifices of the Suffragettes, looked around the Houses of Lords and we saw ‘The Great Hall’ which was used as inspiration in the Harry Potter movies.

Thursday 24th October 2019

Finally the trip was coming to an end! We did our last-minute shopping and soon enough we were sat on the train back to Blackburn.

Though I was glad the trip was over and I knew the city life was not for me, it was an amazing trip where we learnt a lot of things and experienced the hectic Underground, not forgetting the ‘un-welcoming nature’ of the people of London. Not that this was a surprise to us anyways.


The mad London trip

On Tuesday 22nd October 2019, the strong sisters went London. We arrived at Blackburn Youth Zone then went to Blackburn train station and got the train to Preston train station. When we got to Preston train station (it was my first time there), we missed the train because the Blackburn train was late. Then one of the Preston train officers told to wait for the Preston train but she was very annoying because of the way she spoke and she was unprofessional. It was my first time on the Preston train to London and I felt nervous because I hadn’t been on it before but then I was ok. When we got to London, we got the tube to Camden Town, it was my first time on the tube and it was a bit packed so I felt anxious but I was ok. When we got to Euston station, we got the tube tickets then put them in the ticket reader then got the tube to Camden Town. My ticket went through the ticket reader the first time but it didn’t go through the ticket reader again (which was annoying)!. When we got the tube to Camden Town, we got to the Camden Art house guest house and put our stuff in the rooms then went to Leicester Square. In Leicester Square, we went to M&M World (I was going to buy a M&M T-Shirt but they were expensive), Lego Store and some gift shops (I bought a purple London hoodie and some London keyrings). After we had a look around some different shops, we went to a restaurant in Leicester Square called Shake Shack (I was going to have a burger meal but I wasn’t that hungry so I had some chips and some diet coke). After we went to Shake Shack, we went to Sainbury’s to do some food shopping for Wednesday (we went food shopping at 11pm) then when we did some shopping, we went back to the Camden Art House guest house to put the shopping away. On Wednesday which was a full day, we went to House of Parliament when we got to the entrance of the House Of Parliament, we had to be searched by security so we put our stuff on the security machine things then collected our stuff from the machine. After we went through security, we met 1 of the House Of Parliament tour guides for a tour around the House Of Parliament. After the tour around House Of Parliament, we were supposed to meet Kate Hollern’s secretary called Kate Dove but she didn’t turn up (which was annoying). After we went to House Of Parliament, we went to Big Ben, the London Eye (there was a long bridge that people could walk along so we walked on the bridge but only a bit because me and some of the Strong Sisters had a fear of bridges so we walked back off the bridge back into town). We also went to a gift shop and watched some different performers such as a beatboxer, a rapper and a dancer (I though these performers were really good). After we went around town, we went to the markets and had a look around there then went to a restaurant called Tinsel Town and had our tea there but I wasn’t feeling well so I had some chips and diet coke. After we went to Tinsel Town, we went back to the Camden Art House guest house then chilled out for a bit then we had a group discussion about: how the London trip was going, how the Strong Sisters project was going and we also spoke about what skills we had learnt or improved during the London trip and during Strong Sisters project. After we had the group discussion, we chilled out and had a brew or hot chocolate and then some of the Strong Sisters started packing our stuff for Thursday because we were going back home then. The London trip, was really good because I learnt about different stuff such as: the House Of Parliament and how women through history got the right to vote and right to education. During the trip, I also improved my communication skills, I also faced some fears which were: walking on the London bridge that showed London Eye, going on the London Virgin train for the first time, going on the London tube for the first time and also going to London town when it was really crowded. I also improved my confidence during the trip