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Clothes Talk

The Clothes Talk project has been completed and is now closed. This page is for information only.

The Clothes Talk project in 2013 (funded by London Borough of Tower Hamlets Youth Services) brought together older and younger Somali and Bengali women to discuss clothing, and share their stories and experiences of belonging to the Muslim community in Tower Hamlets.  The project ran from 2nd February to 23rd March 2013.

Ten of the women also undertook mentoring training and brought their skills to schools and colleges so that they could contribute positively to their communities.  

Young women aged between 14 and 16 attended weekly sessions at the Brady Arts Centre, where WHFS volunteers facilitated group discussions about clothing - topics raised included fashion, modesty, the over-sexualisation of women and anxieties that could lead to eating disorders.  Participants discussed, from a personal perspective, what wearing traditional Islamic clothing meant to them.

Course participants also undertook coursework leading to the Bronze Arts Award, a nationally recognised qualification.  They worked with tutors from Central Saint Martins and textile artists to explore the theme of ‘connecting cultures’.

Why the project is important

Tower Hamlets has one of the most diverse populations in the UK (including the largest Bangladeshi community in the country). Tower Hamlets also has the highest percentage of Muslim residents in England – 35% (compared with a national average of 5%).  (Source: Tower Hamlets diversity statistics, from Census 2011).

One challenge for Muslim women in Tower Hamlets is how to balance traditional Islamic requirements with modern London living. The Clothes Talk project provided an opportunity to discuss this challenge, and supported the empowerment of local women.

Key outcomes

  • 24 young women were involved in the Clothes Talk project
  • 10 women successfully completed the Level 2 Certificate in QCF (Qualifications and Credit Framework) Mentoring to increase their skills in leadership, supporting others and active listening. This enhanced their ability to go into schools and colleges as mentors, and to develop a volunteering role within their communities.
  • 1 woman successfully achieved her Bronze Arts Award (Level 1 national qualification), and is now working towards her Silver Arts Award (Level 2 national qualification).
  • 4 women worked towards their Bronze Arts Award.

Further information

Please click here for information on our current projects.