South West London’s community stalwarts recognised in New Year’s Honours list


Aysha Esakji and Michele Harris were awarded an OBE and MBE respectively


By Ellie Pipe

A terrorism-prevention worker from South West London says she is delighted after being included in the 2014 New Year’s Honours list.

Aysha Esakji received a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) award for services to challenging extremism and empowering communities.

Working jointly for Hammersmith and Fulham and Kensington and Chelsea councils, Ms Esakji is a key member of the government-funded prevent team.

Her team works with individuals and communities at the pre-criminal stage to challenge extremist and terrorist ideology and behaviour.

“It is very much a team effort and this award is a huge achievement for the team and myself as the work we do with our community partners is often challenging but, in my view, crucially important,” she said.

“I am humbled to receive this honour.”

Ms Esakji’s work includes tireless visits to community outlets and service providers.

Head of Wandsworth Council’s Family Recovery Project, Michele Harris, was also awarded an MBE for services to children and families.

Ms Harris has spent much of her 40-year social care career in Wandsworth working with vulnerable young people.

“The team Michele now leads is transforming the lives of our most seriously troubled families and the benefits of their work will be felt in Wandsworth for generations to come,” said Kathy Tracey, Councillor for Education and Children’s Services.

In 2011, Ms Harris helped establish one of the country’s first ‘Family Recovery Projects’ which was highly commended by the Government for its success in tackling deep rooted issues and supporting families.

Ms Harris said she was honoured to have received the award.

“My team and many people I work with in Wandsworth do an incredible job every day and they deserve this just as much as I do,” she said.

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