Sodabeh Gashtasebi, Senior Advisor on Welfare
She is also the Arts & Crafts Workshop Facilitator and Facilitator of the LBTQ+ Workshop
Sodabeh qualified as a welfare advisor after completing courses in Advice & Guidance, and Health and Social Care for Adults. She became an advisor with MEWSo in 2014.
Her work is explaining and helping women navigate their way through the mass of confusing and complicated benefits available to them. Many MEWSo clients do not understand how the system works, what they are entitled to, how to fill out the numerous forms, or simply the kind of language that is used on these forms, which often mystifies many native English speakers.
She helps women tackle the many different benefits they can apply for, such as universal credit and housing benefit, but also welfare issues that apply to schools, GP services, council tax, grants and loans and PIP (personal independent payments) specific to disabled people.
Unusually, while Sodabeh's main role is as a welfare advisor, she was once a professional artist. For 15 years she exhibited her paintings in various local galleries and her sculptures of Charles Darwin, Albert Einstein and William Morris could be found in gift shops at the Natural History Museum, Oxford University Museum and the V&A (Victoria and Albert Museum). Eventually, gravitating towards teaching, she took a Diploma in Art and Design to become a qualified teacher of art and crafts.
Discovering through her welfare work how many of MEWSo's clients find it difficult to express themselves, she began to run the Art and Crafts workshops, a crucial way to help some women open up, unlock their love of art, and learn new skills.
Her welfare work has also come to include looking after women who identify as part of the LBTQ+ community, who may experience abuse, discrimination and exclusion or who may feel at risk of harm if they were to come out. As a result MEWSo now campaigns on behalf of LBTQ+ women and has created workshops where they can share their stories, express their views and gain self-confidence.
If you need advice about a welfare issue, are interested in learning to create your own art and crafts, or you need help as a member of the LBTQ+ community, call Sodabeh on 07579 801 365 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Celebrate Pride when the LGBTQ+ community invites everyone to commemorate the Stonewall riots, which happened in New York at the end of June 1969. It sparked a world-wide movement for recognition and started the fightback against homophobic abuse and discrimination. More importantly, Pride is a chance to celebrate and recognise the massive impact LGBTQ+ people have had all over the world, historically and present day. View the many different categories in which UK's LGBTQ+ people are making headway in 2020.
This year, because of the pandemic, the usual Pride parade in London has been cancelled but the plan is for the parade to go ahead in June 2021.
Below: Some of the children's artwork and an example of craftwork by MEWSo clients.
If you would like more information about our campaign, please don’t hesitate to contact us. If you would like to support our cause, please consider donating or look at our vacancy page for volunteering options.