Camila's story

Camila is originally from Afghanistan and moved to the UK a few years ago to be closer to her family. has four children, two in higher education and two in primary school.

Camila was learning to adjust to life in the UK and was learning to speak English. However she was struggling to find appropriate classes to attend which would fit in with her family’s traditional beliefs. She felt being married so young she had missed out on a lot of opportunities but she didn’t feel confident enough to access mainstream services due to language barriers, family and modesty issues.

When Camila heard about Step Forward Tees Valley she felt comfortable because of its relationship with Nur Fitness, who work with Step Forward Tees Valley, and she knew she would be in a safe, female-only environment. She had felt overwhelmed about the idea of being in a classroom as the education system in Afghanistan is very different but Nur Fitness staff are bi-lingual and from the BAME community and this reassured her. Her husband met staff from Nur Fitness which put his mind at rest and he knew that their cultural rules wouldn’t be compromised. He was very happy for his wife to attend once he understood the facilities and the project.

Camila has always been a creative person but had no idea how good she was until she come on the arts and crafts course. The empowerment programme had also had a huge impact on her, it’s the first time she has reflected on certain issues and she now realises she had been suffering from depression but had accepted this as ‘life’. She is now speaking to other Afghan women and sharing her knowledge and experiences with them.

The internet courses also had a big impact as he realised a few weeks into the arts and crafts course that she wanted to go into tailoring and was amazed to find she could  market her own business from home through the internet. She also signed up to a specialist course to find out what is involved in setting up your own business,

Camila was initially quite shy, partly due to her lack of confidence in speaking English . The programme has made her more confident as she has realised she has a natural flair for designing, including interior design. She feels more confident now in the class and shares more and is very helpful to the other ladies. She now wants to advance to Level 2 Arts & Crafts and other programmes to help her start her own business.