In any small team it’s always sad when someone leaves. But if he or she is moving on to where they can make even more of a difference then it’s a happy as well as a sad moment. So it is with Aisha.
I first met her when Aisha was about 10, helping her father litter pick and sweeping the pavements in Barton. She grew up helping her parents help the community they lived in, as well as the community they came from.
She left school life to be an apprentice first with Cheltenham Bo...rough Homes and then with my office. Her dedication rightly won Public Sector Apprentice of the Year award and, since her overwhelming interest was helping people in distress, she became probably the youngest MP’s Caseworker in the country.
Most of the time I can’t write about the many many things big and small that Jennie Watkins (in her eight years of working with me), Aisha (in her three) and I work on for constituents. Confidentiality matters when rape, suicide, murder, mental health, asylum, whistle blowing or even neighbourly rows are involved.
But here’s one example of why Aisha is special. She was dealing with a complicated immigration situation of a family from Southern Africa. They couldn’t work while waiting for a Home Office decision. Money for anything like a present for their child was very tight indeed.
So Aisha applied to a charity for Christmas hampers - which she delivered herself to the family on Christmas Day two years running. And eventually the decision they had prayed for, and she had worked for, for came through.
So when Aisha recently won an important job in the Home Office we all knew this was made for her. She takes with her masses of experience of all that life can throw at you, a strong sense of fairness and the importance of objective law - and a very compassionate heart.
When we talk in Gloucester about good multi cultural relations we mean it, but not everyone here can know what a still 21 year old woman who is a proud Briton, an even prouder Gloucester girl - and who happens also to be a Muslim and wear a hijab - has done for literally thousands of residents.
A drunk white male once shouted at Aisha in our city centre ‘why don’t you go home?’ Her home and her heart is right here. So do pass this on because that young woman in a hijab on the street might be another Aisha, almost certainly born and bred here - and quite possibly helping citizens of all colours, ages and faiths.
Aisha thank you for everything and all good luck in your new role x