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Community Action

12 / 17 Asian Women’s Advisory Service: Now a Cafe

Wendy Pettifer, who trained to be a solicitor while working at Centerprise, writes:

'Zora Ali was one of my first Advice Centre customers at Centreprise. She was an intelligent artistic woman and lived in a dilapidated house with her husband and seven children. Backed by the advice centre, she fought long and hard for repairs to bring the house up to a decent standard. She also decided to campaign for Asian women’s rights and, with my support, she opened the Asian Women’s Advisory Service on 161 Mare Street. This created a safe space for women to chat about their experiences as well as to get free advice from me one day a week, with interpreters in Urdu and Bengali always available. The centre ran for about ten years and closed due to the withdrawal of its small grant from Hackney Council. It is now, ironically, a cafe called the Advisory – a mark of the gentrification of Hackney.'

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Poster for an exhibition titled Aurat Shakti ('women of strength'), mid 1980s, courtesy of Manjula Mukherjee.