Good Causes

Stephen Mulhern reveals funding for BAME women project on air

Zafar Coupland thought she was just one of hundreds of people chosen to be in the ‘virtual audience’ on Ant & Dec’s Saturday Night Takeaway. But when Stephen Mulhern called out her name, then told her Sahara – the voluntary group she manages – was getting £323,851 of National Lottery funding, she went into “total shock”.

Zafar said, “I would never in a million years expect to learn the news this way. I hadn’t got a clue until Stephen said the words ‘good causes’ and then I thought, ‘oh!’. It was a really lovely gesture and a fantastic appreciation of the work Sahara has been doing since it opened its doors in 1991.”

You can watch the moment Zafar is surprised by Stephen Mulhern below.

Sahara supports Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) and Eastern European women across the Preston area. The National Lottery funding will enable it to support even more women with a range of needs including poor housing and poor physical and mental health, to those suffering domestic abuse or needing to build their confidence and self-esteem.

One woman whose life has already been transformed by the project is Sarah, a 26-year-old British Asian woman. As a single parent with 2 children, her inability to speak English made it extremely difficult for her to find employment.

Sahara placed Sarah on a 1-year English course. Zafar said, “It built her confidence and we also arranged for her to do volunteering work so she had something to put on her CV. She got a part-time job and now she has set up her own beauty business in Preston.”

Zafar added, “Sarah is just flourishing now and it’s amazing to see. Her goal was to support her children and be able to say ‘I can stand on my own’. Her determination, even when she was struggling, was incredible.”

The National Lottery funding will allow Sahara to support more women like Sarah. Zafar, who has worked at Sahara for 17 years, said, “This money will directly translate into making a huge difference to the lives of hundreds of women across Preston and the town’s neighbouring boundaries. And to receive national TV recognition, and on prime time Saturday night ITV, is just the icing on the cake. It is totally incredible!”

Name changed to protect identity.

21st March 2021

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