Staying Well Project: Raziea – a case study

Raziea2 Raziea Razeia3

Raziea’s story is one of huge changes & contrasts, perhaps a reflection of her dual English, Pakistani heritage. She was born in 1957 in Leeds, but moved to Pakistan with her older sister, at the age of 18 months when her parents separated. She lived with her grandmother, 8 cousins, auntie & uncle. She found school and studying difficult and was often ill, but she loved playing. She says of her childhood that she was a “tomboy” & used to love helping people with shopping and housework. She also recalls that “my grandmother loved me to bits” She says she learned to cook quite late, at the age of 12, and was taught by her brother in law because her grandmother was too ill.

In 1973, at the age of 14, Raziea returned to the UK with her sister, after her Grandparents passed away. They lived with an Auntie & Uncle in Hebden Bridge, above the knitwear shop on Market Street that her Auntie ran. She remembers this time as very upsetting, as she was sad to leave Pakistan, & her family there and was grieving for her grandparents. She found life in the UK very scary and nerve wracking because everything was so different. She remembers her uncle on the plane teaching her to use a knife and fork (and finding it hilarious).

Raziea didn’t go to school but helped her auntie run the shop & learned to speak English & adapted to life in the UK. She has mixed memories of missing Pakistan terribly but being very close to her sister. Soon the girls moved to Leeds to live with their dad and his new wife. She remembers this time as being very difficult as her new step mum put a lot of pressure on the girls to get jobs (to get them out of the house). So she started working in a sweet factory, where she learned a lot, including improving her English, and then to a clothes factory sewing jackets. The sisters moved back to live with their Auntie & Uncle again, who by now had moved their Knitwear shop to Todmorden. She worked, like many women in Calderdale at the time, sewing trousers.

Then in 1979, at the age of 21, she married a friends nephew, who she had never met. At the time she says, she felt that she had no choice, and felt very nervous. Her marriage gave her 4 children and a move to South Wales. She was very happy to be a mum and is very involved in their lives & they help each other a lot. (She says proudly that she was present at the birth of 4 of her grandchildren!) Raziea talks very sadly of the time her marriage ended, and recalls that it left her heartbroken. She remembers being a single parent in Middlesborough with 4 children and not knowing anyone in the area. She made samosas to sell for money, and her dad & her kids kept her going.

Raziea became involved in the Staying Well project after she had been ill for some time. She had had a heart attack in 2011 & had been in hospital for 8 weeks due to severe headaches in 2015. Raziea had given up her job as a dinner lady at Parkinson Lane School, where she had worked since 2005. She couldn’t walk & was housebound, had lost her confidence and motivation, felt very depressed & was crying all the time. She was visited by OTs, physios & one day Noreen, a community mental health worker, came to see her & she talked to her, listened to her & took her out of the house into the garden. Noreen visited each week & each week they went a bit further out of the house, until after a few months she found herself at the Staying Well Hub.

She started knitting, handicrafts & art classes there, and started talking to others & realised that everyone has problems. She noticed that talking was helping her to feel better. Michelle would come to pick her up & brought her home at the end of each session. The team asked her what she wanted to do & she told them she wanted to make things. So she had a go at card making, sewing, jewellery making, Christmas crafts, crocheting, patchwork, gardening…the list goes on and she has no intention of stopping. To see the range and extent of Raziea’s creative output you realise what a truly talented woman she is. It seems to come from an urgent need deep inside her to create. It’s her passion, and is how she stays well.

Today Raziea is a confident and sociable woman, who thrives on meeting and helping people. Making connections is central to her life and she has made some wonderful friendships through
Staying Well. She also introduced her daughter Aisha to the project. Aisha is a wheelchair user & this had led to her feeling lonely & isolated. She took some persuading, but now, she too regularly attends art & gardening sessions with her mum. They make a formidable team & are strong and fun loving characters.

Raziea’s advice on staying well is simple:
“Look around you, and see that you are not alone. Come out of your house and use the Hub. It’s wonderful! “
She goes on to say “ It’s really important to help people. It makes me happy to do things for other people. At ‘Staying Well’ we help each other” She ends with “When someone says ‘thank you’ it’s a blessing for me, and that makes me happy.”