Inspirational Diva Nominee, Neelam Heera

Neelam Heera Inspirational Diva 2017 nominee
Neelam Heera Inspirational Diva 2017 nominee

Neelam set up Cysters initially as an informal group which aims to bring an awareness of gynaecological health to the forefront. Something which the Asian and BAME community do not talk about due to the social connotations surrounding gynaecological issues.
The group aims to:-
– Bring an awareness of gynaecological issues such as PCOS, Endometriosis, infertility, and vaginal cancer.
– Banishing the social stigma in the Ethnic / BAME community regarding gynaecological health, and encouraging people to become more proactive in caring for the gynaecological health i.e. going for smear tests. The problems are prevalent in the ethnic community, due to the “embarrassment” / lack of knowledge women are either unable to access treatment/help or reluctant to go for it.
– Providing peer to peer support for women suffering with these conditions through confidential group sessions and one-to-one meetings Cysters will provide group sessions in a confidential forum for women to express their thoughts, worries and ask questions, safe in the knowledge everything is in confidence. The sessions will be centred around issues they struggle with such as, body confidence, menstruation, life after a hysterectomy and dealing with emotions etc. I am currently working with a few women on an individual basis and offering them peer to peer support as well as getting their feedback on what they would like long term from the group. The group has expanded to support women who have gynaecological issues as a result of sexual assault, FGM, and now there are enquiries regarding women going through the early stages of menopause who just want to talk about these problems in an open non-judgemental forum This group is the only one of its kind in the United Kingdom and is tackling important and social issues and people do not like to talk about. Neelam has single handily created this group from her own experiences and the fact she does not want any woman to suffer in silence.
Neelam offers one to one support for members of Cysters. They initially have been contacted through social media, and then met face to face. She offers peer to peer support to vulnerable young women and in particular one has issues with self-confidence due to her weight, her looks and affects her medication has on her. Neelam has a young woman who she mentors. With the mentoring she is slowly gaining her own confidence without being stuck with a label and believing she isn’t worth anything.
The women that Neelam mentors have low self esteem issues or severe gynaecological problems. One of the girls she mentors have been sexual abused and now suffered with gynaecological issues. Neelam has had to take care and deal with the individual sensitively. Neelam has mention this particular girl has now gone from strength to strength is is dealing with her issues of self esteem.
One of the challenges Neelam has faced is that the social perception of gynaecological issues and also of sexual abuse. The way women are treated in these cases is similar to victim blaming in a child abuse case, which is not something that we should be tolerating in the 21st Century. This is the stigma that she wants
to tackle. Being from an Asian background herself this is personal and important to her.
However being of an Asian background and young female living and working on her own in Birmingham, has caused comments and social barriers are it is perceived that Neelam is talking about topics that are not within the remit of a typical and “correct” moral code in the ethnic community.
Because of the work Neelam does, other people have now started to come forward and talk about these problems more openly, which makes it easier for others to access support. Only someone who has a lot of empathy, care and ability to support others whilst having a full time job would be able to do this.
Neelam is also on the business board for the NSPCC acting as a conduit between the public and the NSPCC, an Ambassador for Jeena International which is a charity which deals with Domestic Violence and Honour based violence in the Asian community, she works as a columnist for Eastern Eye, is the Head of Media for a local Young Professional Women’s Group, specialising in pushing women to the forefront and achieving in their job roles and she is also the regional co-coordinator for Asian Circles a charity which helps vulnerable women In 3rd world countries. All of the above is done whilst she has a demanding full time job where is she trying to become qualified as a solicitor.

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