An Edge Hill graduate has revealed how volunteering in the community alongside her PGCE has played a part in being awarded an MBE in the latest New Year’s Honours List.

Alumna Jamila Kossar was bestowed with the honour for services to young people, having progressed to become part of the Senior Leadership Team at Manchester Islamic High School for Girls and Co-Founder of Manchester with the Homeless.

Her initial voluntary work in Manchester began as a simple idea shared amongst a few friends at University.

“We started a flash mob initiative to feed the homeless once a week during Ramadan”, Jamila revealed. “The idea was that while we are abstaining from food during the day, there are people on our doorstep who don’t essentially have food at all. We sent messages on social media asking people to bring food for themselves and one other person and got them to sit, eat and have a chat with homeless people. It started off as a ‘let’s see how this goes’ idea and it’s still carrying on 12 years later during the month of Ramadan”.

She has taken pride in news of the award, delighted in the pleasure it has given others – as well as surprising others by keeping the announcement secret…

“It’s truly an honour to be awarded in such a way, but more so the happiness it has brought people around me, from family to work colleagues and friends. Also, because it is an award for the community, for their support and hard work, too.

“I found out at the end of November, I came home to find a letter with ‘On Her Majesty’s Service’ written on, which wasn’t for Jury service. I had to keep it quiet for around a month which surprisingly was a shock for people, that I kept it a secret that long!”

Jamila graduated from Edge Hill in 2008 with a PGCE in Secondary RE, grateful in the support she received for her career.

“Edge Hill came recommended by some friends and teachers and it was a great choice. Paul Smalley and Francis Farrell really helped prepare me for life as a teacher. It’s been 11 years since I’ve been to Edge Hill but it was great to get out of Manchester to the rural surroundings.

“The general atmosphere, dedication and informality amongst the tutors and students was a driving force in essentially making a difficult PGCE year easier. I remember having great discussions with Paul and Francis on teaching and the kind of teachers we can be or want to be to make a difference in young people’s lives.”

Post-degree Jamila gained experience through supply before an opportunity to take on maternity cover at Manchester Islamic High school for Girls led to her current role.

“Eight years later and I’m now on the Senior Leadership team, looking after safeguarding and SMSC curriculum as well as teaching RE and History. It’s been a long journey, but the great foundations from Edge Hill University have been essential in mapping out my career in teaching.”

To find out more about our range of PGCE programmes please visit our course information pages.