A graduation ceremony to celebrate the ongoing success of a social enterprise which upskills local women took place in Bolton Town Hall.

The Mayor of Bolton, Cllr Akhtar Zaman, presented the certificates to women who had taken the Foodwise qualification – an accredited course in food, catering and hospitality.

This is part of the SheInspires’ initiative which has been working in the Bolton community for the past 12 years. This includes the SheInpires Awards, an annual cultural MasterChef competition, weekly cookery sessions and art for wellbeing.

Gulnaz Brennan, project leader for the Foodwise course, explained how even the pandemic had failed to stop some of the events from taking place. “We looked at different ways to engage with those taking part including Zoom and video conferencing.”

Praising the project, the Mayor stated: “Through its social enterprise arm, Sheinspires has upskilled a staggering 155 women via Zoom classes and workshops.”

All the women progressed to further learning for art and food courses, accredited by the Award Scheme Development and Accreditation Network (ASDAN) and funded by the European Union Social Fund.

Eighteen went on to volunteering, 12 got jobs, six started their own catering ventures from home and five achieved university admission. The courses were funded by the European Union Social Fund.

Added the Mayor: “All this has been made possible with the help of a very dedicated team of tutors, admin and managers. So huge congratulations to them as well and Ray Hanks, Gulnaz Brennan, Dan Rowles and Afsana Patel in particular.”

Among the latest group of women to receive awards at the event were Salma Badat, Safiyyah Badat, Shirin Bhaji, Kulthum Chohan and Fatimah Chohan.