In a collaborative and respectful way we build resilience, challenge the status quo in our communities where necessary and bring about change through our campaigning.
Connect Collaborate Challenge Campaign
For all Muslim women to thrive in however they choose to live their life and to be supported by others to do so, without judgement.
To encourage and facilitate Muslim women of all ages, to have opportunities to use their knowledge and experiences to benefit themselves and to benefit those around them.
Faith based – respect, compassion, inclusion, learning
As Muslim women, we are probably the most misunderstood group of people anywhere on the planet. We are so often talked at or talked about but our own voices are not heard enough.
The mis-use of teachings from our religious texts and scriptures has for too long been used to hold women back, not allowing them to flourish and grow.
Together We Thrive was started by Julie in 2020 following lots of conversations, a survey and even some late night cuppas with groups of women sharing their ideas and aspirations for what this might look like . We created a Steering Group of 17 Muslim women from around the UK to work out our priorities and we have now formed an Executive Board to move things forward in a focused and strategic way, with the voices of our members at the heart of all we do.
As women of faith, our voices are important, our work is crucial and we need to be heard. Each faith community has its own issues, its own learning to do, its own ways of working. We are not all the same but the things we have in common can empower us to make a positive, necessary change.
Together, we truly can and are thriving!
Our Executive Board
Julie Siddiqi MBE
Founder and Director
Co-Director and Training Lead
Co-Director and Governance Lead
Pastoral and Safeguarding Lead
Izabela Hanifah Was
Research and Outreach Lead
Domestic and Sexual Abuse Project Lead
Mosques and Equalities Project Lead
Julie is a mentor, consultant and gender equality campaigner with a focus on interfaith relations and applying that to social action work, together. She has a background in community grass roots work spanning 25 years and founded a local charity for Muslim women’s needs which she led for 10 years, gaining an acute knowledge of the personal challenges faced by women. She is Co-founder of The Big Iftar, which, during Ramadan, has seen hundreds of grassroots community events take place around the UK. Her activities in interfaith social action saw her awarded the Points of Light by then Prime Minister Theresa May.
Julie was the Executive Director of the Islamic Society of Britain from 2010-2014 and led on several high profile campaigns during this period. She has spoken on many national and international platforms and media outlets including Newsnight and Channel 4 News and is a regular contributor on the flagship Thought For The Day slot on Radio 4’s Today programme. Julie has spoken at international conferences including Princeton University in the US, in Konya, Turkey and in Abu Dhabi. Julie was previously a member of the Government’s National Muslim Women’s Advisory Group and the Government’s national Anti-Muslim Hatred Working Group as an independent member. She is a Governor at two local schools and was previously listed in the Times Newspaper’s 100 Most Influential Muslim Women in the UK.
She is Co-founder of Nisa-Nashim the Jewish and Muslim Women’s Network, the largest network of its kind in Europe. Julie is a Steering Committee member for the Together Coalition chaired by Archbishop Justin Welby (together.org.uk). She was awarded an MBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List 2020 for Services to Promoting Interfaith Understanding.
Asma is a Lecturer of Criminology and has developed a reputation for going over and above what is called for to support her students academically but also emotionally when needed.
She is an experienced sales and marketing professional with over 11+ years experience when she was based in Dubai, UAE and has a track record of excellent people skills and service to others. Asma describes herself as “an ardent advocate of compassion and collaboration who thrives in a diverse culture and firmly believes we all have a unique capacity of contribution” and this comes through in everything she does. Her aspiration as an educator for young people is “The world becomes what we teach”. (Zoe Weil).
When she is not with her students, Asma loves long walks in nature, spending time in her garden, hiking in forests and exploring wildlife in the woods.
She is a keen creative in many mediums and has taken up street photography and videography. Asma recently created and then ran a free art club for parents and children during the holidays in an area of her home town that is seen as “deprived”. She intends to continue this initiative having proven the great need in the area through her pilot project.
Asma has a keen interest in personal development, loves researching, listening to lectures and podcasts and reading non-fiction books. She has developed a good awareness and knowledge on the issues and impacts of childhood trauma and is very much influenced by the work of Gabor Mate and others in that field.
Farzana has been a compliance auditor in the private sector for over two decades and has developed a set of skills which are transferable when examining organisational structures, governance and the importance of thorough oversight. Her role involves maintaining efficient global quality systems and processes which add benefit, in addition to meeting stringent regulatory objectives.
She is passionate about the arts and understands the important role creativity can play in peoples’ mental well-being. She has regularly organised and run crafting classes for children and adults and is currently studying towards an online qualification in art therapy. Farzana is passionate about encouraging people of all ages and backgrounds to explore their creativity.
Farzana is a radio presenter for BBC local radio and the host of a weekly 3 hour community show which goes out across the East of England and covers 8 counties. The show is a platform for topics rarely openly discussed within South Asian Communities including colourism, mental health, LGBT+, critical illnesses, women’s health and patriarchy.
Her passions also include being a loyal fan of Watford Football Club, rescuing fabric from landfill and upcycling it into patchwork quilts and bunting. Her expertly done knitted window displays have been covered numerous times in the media and really are the talk of the town.
Saleha has an extensive career spanning more than three decades, having originally trained as a social worker, she has trained further in family therapy, solution focused psychotherapy, management and training. She also has a keen interest in alternative medicine and healing modalities and is a qualified life coach.
Her dedication to social change and justice has motivated her to take on many senior roles. She has worked in several organisations including the UK’s leading child protection agency, the NSPCC, where she was a senior manager for their ethnic minority helpline. Saleha has also worked in Education, Social Services, the NHS and with the Police. This unique range of experiences led her to work for the Child Exploitation Online Protection (CEOP) service in the intelligence team helping track down paedophiles across the world.
She is a powerful advocate on behalf of children and women on issues related to domestic violence, child abuse, especially sexual abuse and mental health challenges and has been a driving force in bringing these issues into the community sphere. She has been a key figure in interfaith work, community cohesion and youth related issues and has sat on several cross-government bodies and been part of high-profile meetings with ministers and MPs on a range of issues.
She has provided training to senior staff across NHS, Education, Police and Imams on a variety of issues including tackling extremism.
Saleha led and held the role of Director at a mosque in Central London and is the first and only woman in Europe to have held that role. She has led several other organisations including being the CEO of the Muslim Youth Helpline, a service focussing on mental health issues. Saleha is a consultant for high profile court cases and has worked across countries to keep children safe.
Her ability to speak several languages has allowed her to support and advocate for women and young girls who may not have otherwise had the support they needed or deserved.
She has been a participant in several research projects including those exploring issues of sexual and domestic abuse in South Asian communities and is an outspoken and well respected campaigner on these issues nationally and internationally.
Izabela is from a Polish family and converted to Islam over twenty years ago. She has developed a keen interest in supporting particularly convert Muslim women who can often face complex and unique challenges due to their status and their variety of ethnic and cultural backgrounds.
She has extensive experience supporting mothers with young children and working with school and university students. As a qualified Chaplain she provides support to students and staff based at the University of London School of Economics (LSE) Faith Centre. Her inclusive and open approach towards the students she supports encourages positive dialogue and fruitful co-operation between people from all backgrounds.
Izabela uses her experiences and the stories she hears to advocate for under-represented groups in society, emphasising our shared values and interests and ensuring everyone has the right to be heard and seen.
As a keen user of social media, Izabela is our eyes and ears online to what is going on and she regularly brings us new insights to the issues and concerns we are focusing on.
Farah is a trained Life Coach and a Youth Innate Health Mentor with an extensive background in empowering Muslim women and children to embrace their potential and optimise their lives. Farah delivers bespoke coaching, based on the Science of Nafs Quranic psychology model to guide her clients to transformative personal and professional growth and supports her clients through impactful online 1-1 coaching programs and immersive workshops. Her mission is to empower her clients to create the lives they want to live, being happier, more joyful, at peace and more purposefully connecting to others around them.
Farah has many years of experience in delivering well-being initiatives in schools, teaching in Madrassas and working with young people and their families to develop and grow to their full potential. Farah has developed her skills in communicating on her own social media channels and on media platforms such as Islam Channel where she has been a regular presenter and guest on the popular ‘Women’s AM’ chat show.
Farah also keenly engages in interfaith dialogue and her work has included being Co-chair of the Wellbeing Group, Essence, working with Muslim and Jewish women around the country, as part of the leadership team for Nisa-Nashim, a national Jewish and Muslim women’s network, the largest of its kind in Europe. Through this work women jointly confront Anti-semitism and Islamophobia and find new ways to develop trusted friendships which enable dialogue to take place and change to happen in both communities.
Farah also brings her many years of professional experience working in the airline industry where she developed her skills for customer service and working with people from all ages and all backgrounds as part of a team.
Sadia brings over 25 years of experience in both the public and third sector and is a seasoned professional in community engagement and inclusion. She successfully led a local youth charity during a financially critical period, implementing transformative changes that secured its position as a secure youth charity.
Sadia’s expertise extends to fostering sustainable relationships within the communities that various charities serve, with a track record of delivering bespoke training programs for service users and professionals. She is adept at working within local authority frameworks, including collaborations with Social Services and Youth Offending Services, showcasing her proficiency in conflict resolution, change management, and workforce development. Additionally, she possesses strong coaching and mentoring skills, aiding individuals and groups in accessing their needs, formulating plans, and setting targets.
Currently, at the National Trust, Sadia supports properties and projects across the South East. Her role involves equipping them with tools and techniques for community engagement and stakeholder involvement, as well as fostering innovative approaches to partnership and participation through networking meetings and newsletters.
Sadia has also managed a team of Domestic Abuse Caseworkers across Oxfordshire, focusing on providing interventions for both perpetrators and victims of domestic abuse. Her experience spans various leadership roles where she has led initiatives, developed relationships, and been at the forefront of driving change management strategies.
Anita is a social psychologist and an academic at York St. John’s University, London where she teaches on the entrepreneurship pathway.
In 2015 she co-founded Open My Mosque, a campaign group fighting for equalities to be acknowledged in faith spaces which has been covered by the BBC, ITN and featured in The Guardian and The Independent.
She is also a leader with Citizens UK in Peterborough, organising with her community to introduce better racial equality, inclusion and belonging measures in Peterborough schools. She previously worked as an advisor to the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government.
Anita now works with commercial, advertising and policy clients to counter hate speech and support new, inclusive, understandings of product and growth in business.
She brings a wealth of experience from her work in policy, political and creative arts spaces.
“My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humour and some style.”
I chose Islam as my way of life in March 1995. Fairly quickly I found myself involved in community organising and all of the ups and downs that come with that!
Early on I helped set up and then chaired An-Nisa Slough Muslim Women’s Group for ten years. Through that I learned a lot, I met amazing people and in some ways I feel the work of Thrive is taking me back again to those early days.
Since then I have met such a variety of people, been given fantastic opportunities, developed resilience through difficulties, made lots of mistakes and most of all I have really understood that I can’t do any of this by myself!
My faith is important to me but I am also fascinated and intrigued by teachings of other faiths and beliefs and in the power of people.
Women are so often not represented properly. Faith communities are not good at empowering women in line with what their faith teachings actually say.
Things are much better than they were even 100 years ago in so many ways but we live in a society which is still un-equal. We have still not fully understood that unless we have diversity in every setting, we will never fully develop and grow. That applies in every area of life – business, charity, education settings, sport, places of worship and even in our own families.
I see myself as a positive, optimist but I try and keep it real too.
This website and the work represented here has been a long time coming and I’m excited! I believe the UK to be one of best countries in the world to live in, while also acknowledging its failings and shortcomings. It gives us so many opportunities but we have to make things happen and grab them with both hands.
I am passionate about friendship and connection and I want to share this journey with you.
One thing my community work and experiences have taught me is that we can all make change, we all have gifts to bring to the world, we all need to develop our purpose and passion in the short time we have on this Earth. But none of it works if we try and go alone.
Get in touch. Be involved. Don’t sit on the side-lines waiting for others to make change happen.
Together we truly can thrive, I’m excited to meet you.
Love and prayers