I always knew I wanted to write or be a journalist like my father but felt that I needed to know more about the world, I knew there was a lot of injustice but none of it made sense to me. I went to study Anthropology at Goldsmiths, which helped to ground my understanding of socio-political issues. After this, I completed an internship for the London Borough of Lewisham, which led to a job in homelessness. I didn’t end up pursuing Journalism because it seemed too difficult to get into the industry and I grew to eventually regret that.
While working abroad as a mental health counsellor, I was at a crossroads because I needed to get an MA in a Psychology/Psychotherapy related field and it was then I realised that I have always wanted to contribute to wider society and perhaps my contribution would come in the form of something more creative. I did a PG certificate in Fashion & Lifestyle journalism – I was unprepared and unsupported so I didn’t have any work experience or get involved in any publications, so once it was time to graduate from this course I wasn’t ready to get a job in the field, it knocked back my confidence a thousand.
One of the things I found really difficult to deal with was that I didn’t know anyone who looked like me or dressed like me (wearing a hijab) who was trying to do something similar to me, I felt alienated and out of my depth. Then when I was about to give up, I came across a zine called One of My Kind (OOMK) and I attended a think-in, this opened me up to a supportive network of creative women who were also women of colour and some were Muslim. This gave me the courage to continue on my path. I got a part time job at Harrods and eventually went on to develop my own publication, Taming Lions. I wanted to create a platform for emerging creatives to showcase their work as well as talk about difficult social topics through narrative, poetry and life stories. Taming Lions opened up many doors and allowed me to start conversations with potential employers but I was still unable to transition from part time retail into a job that I really wanted.
Through one of my friends at OOMK I came across The Creative Society and they gave me the support I needed to clarify my job searching goals, Barbara held me accountable during 1:1 sessions, did mock interviews with me and supported me through every rejection email until I was finally successful. I needed this support because I was overwhelmed with my aspirations and my immediate needs to get a sustainable job. I came across my current role at Community Links through Barbara and the team at The Creative Society. I am now an advisor for Create Your Future, a Big Lottery funded personal and professional programme to support BAME women into sustainable employment. I love what I am doing because I get to support women like me to find their voice and vision, test their aspirations and carve out a sustainable future for themselves. I also get to design creative workshops such as photography course with the V&A and documentary filmmaking. Community Links has been great for my development because my creativity is valued here and I am given the opportunity to take responsibility for my ideas and see them into completion.
Hiba Mohamed, Writer & Advisor