top of page
  • shabirapapain

A Day in the Life of Nimo: Head of Outreach at People Street

In the heart of bustling east London, amidst the cacophony of diverse voices and vibrant communities, Nimo operates as the Head of Outreach at People Street. Her role, while multifaceted and demanding, centres on a simple yet profound mission: connecting with marginalised communities and ensuring they have a voice in research and service design. Her work is a testament to the power of human connection, empathy, and persistence in the face of systemic challenges.

Building Bridges: The Role of Outreach

As the Head of Outreach, Nimo’s primary responsibility is to establish and maintain strong connections with grassroots communities. She emphasises the importance of face-to-face interactions, recognising that genuine connections cannot be forged through impersonal methods like leafleting or digital communication alone. “Being present in the community, listening to their stories, and understanding their needs firsthand is crucial,” Nimo explains. This approach not only builds trust but also makes individuals feel heard and valued.

One innovative strategy Nimo employs is sending voice messages instead of written ones. This small change has had a significant impact, making communication more accessible for those who may struggle with written English. “A voice message carries tone, emotion, and intent in a way text simply cannot,” Nimo notes. This method ensures inclusivity and fosters a sense of personal connection.

Orchestrating Outreach: Planning and Execution

Nimo’s role goes beyond direct community interaction. She meticulously plans and coordinates the efforts of the outreach team, determining where and how they will engage with different groups. “Mobilising the team effectively is essential,” she says. “It’s about being strategic and responsive to the unique needs of each community.”

For instance, when organising a community meeting, Nimo uses WhatsApp to send reminders at strategic intervals—two weeks before, one week before, the day before, and on the morning of the event. She prefers voice memos to ensure that even those who are less literate can receive and understand the information. Furthermore, she avoids changing her profile picture to maintain a consistent visual reference for her contacts, demonstrating her understanding of how people in these communities use technology.

People Street: A Force for Change

People Street is dedicated to raising awareness about inequalities and providing support to those who need it most. The organisation collaborates with service providers and designers, conducts research, and facilitates community engagement to address shifting social issues. One of their significant projects involves working with the Home Office. “Many Home Office application processes are shifting online, which poses a significant barrier for many,” Nimo explains. People Street works tirelessly to ensure that these systems are user-friendly and accessible by supporting User Research on new and emerging digital products.

Another notable example is the Surrey University research project focusing on the needs of Bangladeshi and Somali communities. Recognising the language barriers these groups face, People Street ensures that interpreters are available to facilitate effective communication with healthcare providers.

Tools and Resources: Adapting to Community Needs

Effective outreach requires the right tools and resources. For Nimo, this often means balancing traditional face-to-face interactions with the use of technology. “We use WhatsApp and online platforms like Teams and Google Meet to facilitate discussions, depending on who we’re working with,” she says.

A memorable example of adapting to community needs occurred when Nimo helped someone find a contact on WhatsApp. The individual did not know the contact’s name but remembered their profile picture. After scrolling through numerous contacts, Nimo finally identified the right person. This experience highlighted the varying ways people use technology and reinforced her commitment to maintaining a consistent profile picture.

Overcoming Challenges: Trust and Perseverance

Working with excluded communities presents numerous challenges, particularly when engaging with institutions like the Home Office, which many perceive as ‘scary’. “I often have to speak to over 50 people just to get four to agree to participate in Home Office research” Nimo says. Overcoming this mistrust and fear requires patience, transparency, and empathy. Nimo and her team strive to reassure community members that their interactions with the Home Office will not negatively impact their asylum cases. They provide support before, during, and after interviews, helping individuals feel safe and heard.

Celebrating Success: Moments of Reward

Despite the challenges, Nimo finds her work deeply rewarding. One of her proudest achievements was collaborating with the Home Office to simplify and shorten a daunting eight-page research information sheet and consent form. By facilitating a co-design session between the Home Office ethics board and research leaders, they reduced the form to three pages, making it more accessible and understandable. “Seeing the positive impact of such changes is incredibly fulfilling,” Nimo shares.

A Journey of Empowerment

Nimo’s journey in community outreach spans over two decades. She began her career delivering health education projects. Her work with the NHSx, particularly with people managing long-term conditions, laid the foundation for her current role. “I realised there was a gap in inclusive research, which led me to People Street,” she reflects.

Through her career, Nimo has built a robust network and gained invaluable experience, enabling her to advocate effectively for underrepresented communities. Her dedication to empowering others and fostering inclusive research is unwavering.

The Power of Collaboration

Effective collaboration is at the heart of People Street’s success. Despite being a small team, they communicate regularly through weekly check-ins, briefings, and debriefings. “We discuss what went well and what can be improved. We are constantly reflecting on our practice” Nimo explains. Trust, mutual respect, and a shared passion for their mission underpin their collaborative efforts. This collaboration extends to their partners such as RAND Europe, Surrey University, Oxford University and Home Office User Research teams. “We think about our partners as colleagues, we are there to support them to do the very best, in turn we are delivering the best possible outcomes for the communities we serve” Nimo explains.

A Commitment to Change

Nimo’s work at People Street is driven by a deep commitment to making a positive change. “Hearing others’ stories and connecting them with the services they need is incredibly rewarding,” she says. This commitment is reflected in every aspect of her work, from her direct interactions with community members to her strategic planning and coordination efforts.

In conclusion, Nimo’s role as Head of Outreach at People Street exemplifies the power of empathy, resilience, and strategic action in addressing social and digital inequalities. Her dedication to building genuine connections and her innovative approaches to outreach make a lasting impact on the communities she serves. Through her work, Nimo not only empowers individuals but also contributes to a more inclusive and equitable society.

14 views0 comments


bottom of page