Diversity Matters’ Ruhela Begum is driven in everything she does by a passion for building up those around her. Always going above and beyond expectation, Ruhela is a bit of a superhero to the community – and as a charity that has the wellbeing of local residents at its core, Diversity Matters wouldn’t be the same without her.
Ruhela has lived most of her life in Tameside, after moving here from Bangladesh at the tender age of four, and has many wonderful memories of growing up in Hyde. She feels a very strong connection to the community and has worked tirelessly to ensure she helps locals thrive and grow both in her career and outside of work too.
Initially working for the NHS helping to support the BAMER community with improving their dental health, Ruhela saw opportunities to help in other areas too. Before even joining Diversity Matters, then known as Hyde Community Action, as a team member, she was an indispensable help in establishing the charity back in 2007 and served as one of the original board members.
It’s in her nature to nurture
One of the core values of Diversity Matters is to empower the people we work with by encouraging them to build on the skills and knowledge they already have – and this is something that Ruhela can really relate to. On many occasions, she has taken it upon herself to get people together and get a feel for what the needs of the community are. And from those events come ideas that are planted as seeds in the community, where Ruhela ensures they grow into little healthy schemes that take on a life of their own.
Ruhela has helped along many projects for the residents of Tameside. As an example, Ruhela became the original founder of the group Mohilar Asha, meaning women’s hope, when she inspired local women to join forces. She has since witnessed the group grow and become its own entity, still working to empower local women. And for the men of Tameside, Ruhela’s work has led to a formalised men’s walking group, now led by a local GP, to be established.
Chief Officer at Diversity Matters, Gemma Gaskell, describes Ruhela: “Ruhela always puts others first, she is understanding, approachable and caring. And locally Ruhela is proactive, as she really knows the community and is always on the hunt for a better way to support it.”
It isn’t surprising then, that to the Tameside community, Ruhela is a role-model. At Diversity Matters we are also lucky to have her on the team. Using her famous reflective side, Ruhela currently keeps everyone going through the COVID-19 pandemic and the chaos of working remotely, by sending out a weekly note that encourages us all to persevere. Her empathy stretches very far as she foresees issues and struggles and helps the team, even before we know we need her support.
No rest for the inspired
Ruhela constantly works to create cohesion and growth, but she knows that little strokes fell great oaks, and sees teamwork as an essential part of her role. She says: “I believe a tree doesn’t just spring from the ground – it needs sunshine and nutrients to grow and blossom in its own right, and that’s what motivates me to accomplish things with the support from the team to achieve my goals.”
Constantly looking for new opportunities to help, Ruhela is currently contemplating ways of getting the community through the current COVID-19 pandemic, and judging by previous successes, Tameside residents should probably watch this space!