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The Big Issue Changemakers of 2023: Equality

Ensuring everyone is treated the same is not an outlandish request. These people are using that ethos to push things forward in 2023

Nas Mohamed

Nas Mohamed of Proud Maroons

Association from Citroën

As the fight for equality continues, these are The Big Issue’s Changemakers doing more than most in 2023 to help achieve it.

Find the rest of the series on the links below and pick up the magazine from your local Big Issue vendor.

Rudi Page and Windrush Festival 

The 2017 Windrush scandal highlighted the institutional racism faced by thousands of immigrants from the Caribbean. This June will bring the 75th anniversary of the Empire Windrush arriving in Tilbury Docks in Essex, the symbolic moment that shaped a modern, multicultural Britain, bringing immigrants and servicemen from colonies to rebuild the country after World War II. 

The treatment of Black people in the UK is a national disgrace, both historically and presently, but there are those looking to make positive change. Rudi Page is one of them. Page has been playing a key role in London boroughs to bring people together to support each other and transform communities. He’s also leading the calls and organisation for 75th anniversary festivals in communities across the country and abroad. 

Rudi Page

Rudi Page

What was 2022 like for you? 

I continued to reflect on my life, and made the decision to ensure that Windrush 75 Anchor activities would be a significant opportunity to celebrate hope, strength and belonging for communities in the UK. But also to pass the baton to the third and fourth generations and encourage them to get involved in their neighbourhood and local communities. 

Why is your work needed? 

We have a values-based approach that respect and inclusion are the common ground for all regardless of background or status. Co-designed and produced with individuals and organisations, our cross-sectoral implementation programmes inspire inclusive, peaceful, caring and enterprising neighbourhoods and local communities. 

What are your plans for 2023? 

We intend to facilitate a series of Windrush Anchor festivals and activities in the London boroughs of Brent, Croydon, Ealing, Enfield, Haringey and Southwark, in Birmingham, Manchester and Wolverhampton and in Kingston, Jamaica. The festivals are also a catalyst for a year-long celebration of innovative creative activities including educational youth exchange, environ­mental sustainability study, heritage and cultural learning, community economic tourism, wellness programmes, storytelling and inter-generational community social inclusion.  

Windrush arrivals in 1948
Jamaican immigrants are welcomed by RAF officials after the Empire Windrush docked in 1948. Photo: PA Images / Alamy Stock Photo

Ramya Jaidev 

Solicitor Jaidev is co-founder of Windrush Lives, an advocacy group and victim support network focused on the Windrush Compensation Scheme. Last year the group launched a campaign demanding a statutory inquiry into the Windrush scandal and works to challenge the hostile environment in all its forms. 

Nas Mohamed  

Lionel Messi clinching the final jewel in his footballing crown is what organisers will hope last year’s Qatar World Cup is remembered for. But Argentina’s victory came against a backdrop of alleged human rights abuses, migrant deaths and the criminalisation of LGBT+ people. 

 In the run-up to the tournament Dr Nas Mohamed (pictured at the top of the page), the only publicly gay Qatari, set up an LGBT+ fan group for the Qatar national team to raise awareness of their persecution. The Proud Maroons describes itself as “the only national football supporters’ group that can’t have fans from its own nation – because joining would send them to jail”. 

“I ask that we stand together as one global LGBT+ community, and say love is not a crime,” Mohamed said. 

Mohamed, a doctor trained in sports medicine, sought asylum in the US four years ago. He came out last May and has since set up the Alwan Foundation, which aims to represent the LGBT+ community in the Gulf. Through the foundation he helped front a petition calling on Qatari authorities to permanently repeal discriminatory legislation. He is working to ensure the World Cup’s legacy is one of hard-won rights for LGBT+ Qataris.  

Sistah Space 

East London-based Sistah Space is a non-profit organisation bridging the gap in domestic abuse service provision for women and girls of African and Caribbean heritage. Founded in 2015, they advocate for and provide practical and emotional support to women with current or historic experiences of domestic abuse. They have also been campaigning to implement ‘Valerie’s Law’, which would ensure anyone involved in supporting Black survivors of abuse is given compulsory training.

Sheku Bayoh Justice Campaign 

In 2015, Sheku Bayoh died aged 31 after being held face down by up to nine police officers in Kirkcaldy, Fife. He lost consciousness and died. Almost eight years on, no disciplinary action, charges or trials have been faced by the officers involved. The Sheku Bayoh Justice Campaign are fighting to achieve justice. In 2022, the independent Sheku Bayoh Inquiry was established to examine the events, and campaigners set up vigils outside the venue and attended the meetings. They also set up film screenings across Scotland of A Portrait of Sheku Bayoh, a film about his life as told through his family and friends. They will continue  in their pursuit of justice and truth.  

Lady Phyll 

Photo: Corinne Cumming

UK Black Pride is an organisation co-founded by political activist Lady Phyll. Black Pride “promotes unity and cooperation” among all Black LGBT+ people and those of Asian, Middle Eastern and Latin American descent too. Every year, they organise their own Pride celebration event, which has become Europe’s largest Pride celebration for LGBT+ people of colour. In 2022, over 25,000 people showed up to UK Black Pride in Stratford, London – their biggest event to date. They will continue to support Black and Brown LGBT+ people in the UK to celebrate their diverse sexualities, identities, cultures and backgrounds. 

Little Lives UK

Little Lives
Little Lives works with disadvantaged children of all backgrounds

Children living in low-income areas find themselves not only materially disadvantaged, but without access to opportunities. Little Lives, a children’s charity, works to fix this. This might be through providing hundreds of free counselling sessions, breaking down the barrier put up by long waiting lists and high private costs or by sponsoring sports teams to help those from all backgrounds get involved. In 2023 the charity’s work will include re-donating electronics to children without access to them. 

Home Girls Unite 

This support group was set up for daughters of immigrants to discuss their experiences of childhood in marginalised communities. The network connects people through virtual rant sessions where they can express themselves and a podcast which deals with everything from the culture clash of queerness to parentification – when a child has to act as a parent to their younger siblings. 

TRUK FC 

TRUK FC

Providing safe, inclusive and fun football; raising awareness of LGBT+ issues; and of course, winning at least one match. These are some of the aims of TRUK FC, the world’s only all-trans female football team – all of which they’ve happily achieved. Playing friendly and charity matches across the country, TRUK FC are creating history – making football inclusive for all. 

Victoria Jenkins 

Photo: Debbie Burrows

When Jenkins became disabled in her 20s, she realised that none of her old clothes adjusted to her new needs. So she founded Unhidden, a brand that adapts clothing for people with disabilities. From trousers tailored to fit wheelchair users to a layered dress that gives easy access to stoma bags her designs have graced London Fashion Week, and are all made from surplus fabric that would have gone to landfill.  

This article is taken from The Big Issue magazine, which exists to give homeless, long-term unemployed and marginalised people the opportunity to earn an income.

To support our work buy a copy! If you cannot reach your local vendor, you can still click HERE to subscribe to The Big Issue today or give a gift subscription to a friend or family member. You can also purchase one-off issues from The Big Issue Shop or The Big Issue app, available now from the App Store or Google Play.

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