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Kausar’s Story

Creating opportunities to support the community

Kausar Shahid, Community Advancement Manager – Children & Families


Kausar joined Halifax Opportunities Trust (HOT) in its first year of operating, October 2002. Initially working as a bilingual family support worker, Kausar has worked with HOT in a range of roles over the past 20 years, building her skills and experience in various teams throughout the Trust.

Now a Community Advancement Manager in our large Children and Families team, Kausar has been witness to many changes across the charity and has first-hand experience of the positive impact HOT has made for the people of Park ward and beyond.  Kausar has been instrumental to this positive impact and has supported many individuals and families along the way; creating opportunities for a brighter future.

Establishing community needs

Kausar first became aware of HOT through her involvement with Sure Start in 2001, where she attended planning meetings representing Beech Hill Family centre. In 2001 Halifax Opportunities Trust was establishing itself as a local charity, building relationships with local and community-based organisations in preparation for West Central Halifax Partnership programme’s completion in March 2002.  Representatives from HOT were often present at the same meetings Kausar attended, which is what first introduced her to the Trust’s activity in the community. Kausar reflects:

“HOT has changed and grown over the 20+ years I have worked here. Something that is the same, is that supporting the community remains one of the most important elements of what we do.”

Embracing change

Since taking her first role at the Trust in 2002, the charity has grown in many ways. Not only does it offer more opportunities for the people of Calderdale, but it has more capacity to adapt and meet their needs thanks to an ever-growing team of staff and strong relationships with local, regional and national partners.

Kausar remembers that back in 2002, the charity mainly delivered training-based programmes in ESOL and IT for new arrivals in the country and local residents. She reflects:

“Within my time at HOT, there have been so many developments. We are able to now offer different opportunities to all ages, there are more projects for communities to be involved and develop through employment, well-being, volunteering apprenticeships and many more.”

Creating spaces

Jubilee Children’s Centre when it first opened

One of the most notable changes in Kausar’s time at the Trust has been the growth of the children and families provision, which now employs around 70 people. When Kausar first joined, she was one of few employees who helped to shape the delivery and growth of this area. A key milestone for Kausar is the opening of Jubiliee Children’s centre in 2005, which is where she is based today.

As a collaborative project between the local council, Sure Start and HOT, it reflects a lot of the work Kausar was involved with at the time and gave the team a positive outlook on the Trust’s dedication to children and families. Kausar reminisces:

My most memorable experience is being involved in to the process of building Jubilee Children’s Centre and it’s opening.

Working with colleagues and the community

Kausar is a local resident of Park ward, which has given her a deep understanding of the challenges the local community faces, as well as the experiences of the people who live here.  Having this understanding has helped Kausar offer valuable contributions to many of the programmes the Trust delivers and work with partner organisations to ensure delivery truly reflects the needs of the children, families and communities we work with.

Of course, understanding these challenges through her own lived experience and tackling them in a professional capacity hasn’t been an easy road to navigate. Over the years Kausar has overcome many barriers due to working and living within the same community; sometimes she has had to work with clients or families she knows, to offer support and guidance. Kausar says:

“In the community many families are very private. In this capacity it is hard to work with people you know from living locally, when they come to HOT for support. However, the Trust is very supportive of communities regardless of gender, ethnicity and culture, and once we sit with them they feel much more at ease.”

Progression with purpose

Kausar’s involvement with HOT has been entrenched with progression, not only through her contribution to how delivery is shaped, but in her professional development too. Over the years Kausar has built her career by enhancing her skills and qualifications.

While working with the Trust she has taken a continuous approach to learning, completing short training courses relevant to her role. Kausar has also enhanced her existing skills through completing courses on interpreting, basic counselling skills and management. On a personal level, Kausar is proud of these achievements, where she has proved her capabilities. She comments:

“HOT is very supportive and flexible with staff. There is always something new I take away from working with the organisation.”

Future plans

Kausar hopes to stay at HOT alongside many of her peers who she has become close with, for many more years. However, through the skills, qualifications and experiences she has gained through working at the Trust, she hopes that these can be put into use when she reaches retirement, turning her focus to the elderly community.

“Once I retire I wish to support elderly people, providing listening ear and somewhere for them to meet and spend quality time.”

Upon reflection of her time at the Trust, Kausar adds:

“I would like to say thank you for giving me opportunity to be part of an amazing organisation and to work with local communities who need our support.  I am still here because of wonderful and supportive colleagues and managers who have supported me through work and personal matters, over the past 20 years.”

Creating Opportunities

Jubilee Children’s Centre today

As we celebrate our 21st Anniversary, we are looking back on the many opportunities we have created for individuals, families, businesses and the community. This means something different to everyone, and Kausar’s involvement and influence over the years has seen opportunities present in many ways. To her, ‘creating opportunities’ means:

“Understanding and valuing different cultures to give them the best opportunities”

To Kausar, Halifax Opportunities Trust is all about:

“Providing an outstanding service in offering development opportunities and support to communities living in the area.”

A brighter future

Our 21st birthday doesn’t only mean we’re looking back on our impact over the years, it gives us the opportunity to look forward and establish plans for the future. For Kausar, her vision for HOT in the future is simply:

“To continue with the fantastic work”

Learn more about our 21st Birthday celebrations

As well as the contributions our connections are kindly providing to tell our story, we have lots of other things planned. Learn more on our official webpage, via the button below.

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