Northumberland charity that helps immigrants wins Queen's Award for Voluntary Service

An Ashington-based charity has been honoured by the Queen for its services to the community.

Being Woman helps immigrants settle in the UK and promotes equality. It is an ethnic minority-led charity, meaning that over 50% of board members are non-white.It is said to be the first charity of this kind in the region to receive the Queen's Award for Voluntary Service.

The group teaches English and digital skills to help people find jobs and integrate into the community.

It also claims to have helped thousands of people through its food bank delivery app.

Fareeha Usman, said she founded the charity in 2018 after realising ethnic minorities were being left behind in Northumberland, one of the least ethnically diverse areas in the UK according to the last census.

Fareeha and the Being Woman 'family', as they call it. Credit: Hussein Al Haj Moussa

"The charity was founded on a lack of diversity in this region," she told ITV News Tyne Tees.

"None of the other charities are ethnic led or mainly serving the ethnic minority communities. We saw, we looked at how qwe could convert this adversity into opportunity, and that's what we did, and that's why we're here."

Gagandeep Kaul is among those who has had her life transformed by the charity.

Ms Kaul says Being Woman is responsible for her becoming settled in Ashington. Credit: ITV Tyne Tees

She immigrated from India 10 years ago speaking very little English and lacking the ability to apply for jobs or the skills to perform them.

"When I first came from India, when we have to go to the doctors, we couldn't do it because we can't speak," she said.

"We are very sad because we have no job. We do not feel settled in Ashington."

But after her and her family were taken under Being Woman's wing. They taught her English and how to use technology, and her situation improved dramatically.

Most importantly, said Ms Kaul, the charity gave her confidence and a sense of community.

"We are not scared now because we have support from Being Woman," continued Ms Kaul.

"They help us. They say 'You are equal'. And I'm really happy, now I'm not shy."

The award was presented by the Duchess of Northumberland at the Alnwick Gardens. Broadcaster Carol Malia introduced Being Woman at the ceremony, saying: "Fareeha models human-centered scheme where everyone feels safe and equal."