Naseem Khan, Founder of Give Back 2U UK
A Community Interest Company committed to advancing the skills and education of all women
I was born and raised in Kenya, with my extended family living under the same roof – a common occurrence in our culture.
My childhood was violent and aggressive, with every move dictated by certain family members: no male friends, no phone calls, no cinema trips, no freedom to roam where my selected friends were allowed to go… I wasn’t protected, despite my parents’ best efforts, and it made me angry and rebellious.
The greatest gift I ever received was when mum and dad afforded me the opportunity to leave home when I was 18 to live in the UK and study for a degree. They said to come back when the degree was completed, but I wasn’t going anywhere.
I worked to support myself and completed my studies; then I got married but the relationship didn’t turn out as I expected. It was a difficult time, but we have a wonderful son together called Adi. After four years I left – taking Adi with me.
The next chapter was tough – being a single mother and holding down a day job as a regional manager for a company. I wanted to make a difference in women’s lives, so on top of all this I opened a small restaurant in 2017 – Namji – and hired two women in need of work. I funded them to complete their food hygiene courses and gave them a renewed sense of purpose. Word of mouth spread and by the end of the year I’d helped five ladies; the concept of Give Back 2U UK was born.
Later that year I married an amazing man, Malik, and he gave me emotional and financial support to quit the day job and focus on Namji and Give Back 2U UK. Our work includes providing short courses (first aid, food hygiene, confidence building, CV writing, interview techniques), educational training (Maths and English) and sewing skills to many ladies.
My primary motivation is to empower women to embrace their individuality and identity; don’t allow anyone to control you. Malik treats me with the utmost respect and Adi is being taught to do the same.
I just want to be known as Naseem – a person in my own right.