'Life is hard but today was a joy': Refugees given reason to smile at pampering session

Salma having her makeup done

Salma having her makeup done - Credit: British Red Cross

Struggling refugees were given a reason to smile when a Dalston centre held a pampering session. 

A Tower Hamlets woman, whose name has only been given as Salma, has been waiting 14 years for her asylum claim to be settled, having moved to London from Bangladesh. 

Salma shares one room with her husband in a shared house and relies on food parcels and support from the British Red Cross centre to get by. 

“Life can be very stressful,” she said, “but today, I got to treat myself.”

The British Red Cross centre put on the makeup workshop in partnership with makeup brand Emolyne for members of its women’s group, who meet every week to support each other and take part in activities. 

“This is the first time I have had professional makeup,” Salma said. “It feels so good. It’s such good quality. I’ve learned some new things I can do at home.
“I’m taking so many pictures to send to my friends. 

“In the mornings I usually find it hard to get up and be motivated, but I think this makeup will help me do it.” 

Salma at Emolyne makeup workshop

Salma at Emolyne makeup workshop - Credit: British Red Cross

The Red Cross’s Hackney Destitution Centre supports vulnerable refugees, migrants and people seeking asylum, who may be struggling to meet their most basic needs. 

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The centre provides food parcels and hot meals on some days, as well as laundry and showering facilities, access to computers and spare clothes.

Gloria Ho, who runs the Hackney centre, said: "Our women's group was so excited when we told them they were going to have a makeup workshop. 

“We put on a lot of different activities for them, but we've never done anything quite like this.”

She added: “There was such a joyful atmosphere in the room on the day and everyone was beaming. 

“This is a rare treat for some of the most vulnerable women in our society. You could see it gave them a real boost.”