Community champ is honorary doctorate

A WOMAN who has spent years championing the causes of the elderly has received an honorary doctorate from the University of East London.

Ramesh Verma was awarded an honorary Master of Business Administration. She first came to east London with her family in 1976 as a teacher but stopped work to care for her blind mother who could not speak English.

It was during this time that she realised greater support was needed in the borough for families in similar situations to her own; living in near poverty and with English as an additional language, if at all.

Her campaigning began when she contacted hundreds of minority ethnic organisations and discovered that many of those communities struggled with the language barrier and were not aware of the social services available.

She set up a conference ‘Elders in Newham, Know Your Rights’ and invited local councillors to learn more about the needs and diversity of local people. This led to a series of workshops on health and housing and other services, educating communities and bridging the gaps between them and their council.

The award recognises “her outstanding achievements in supporting the elderly minority communities of Newham and raising awareness around issues of diversity.”

Ramesh said: “This award will be the closest to my heart as it recognises my social campaigns and efforts to improve the lives of older people who don’t have a voice. I will continue to serve my elders, making sure that they receive appropriate services and are treated with respect and dignity in their golden years.”