THREE community champions who made a significant contribution during the COVID pandemic are recognised in the New Year Honours.


Sobia Iqbal Nawaz MBE

Sobia, 39, from Southall, a customer service manager for Santander, travelled to her branch in Hounslow throughout the COVID-19 crisis, ensuring customers continued to be served.

The citation said: “The compassion, level-headedness and community spirit with which Sobia responded has made her a role model for her colleagues in Santander.”

She was also one of the first members of staff to take the initiative check on the wellbeing of vulnerable customers.

She was key to several food drive events within the branch, where food and other essentials were delivered to those who could not get to supermarkets.


Laura Bear MBE

Laura, 56, from Ealing, is Professor and Head of the Department of Anthropology at the London School of Economics.

She used her expertise to advise on support for vulnerable households in the pandemic.

Since April 2020, she has served on the SPI-B SAGE sub-committee and the ethnicity sub-group of SAGE.

Her current research focuses on the unequal effects of the pandemic on vulnerable UK communities.


Ragini Patel BEM

Ragini, 50, from Northolt, has made a significant contribution through extensive volunteering and pastoral care work.

For the past 14 years, she has been a teaching assistant at Tudor Primary School, Southall.

She is heavily involved in pastoral care and children’s development, in particular working with the parents of children who struggle with behavioural difficulties.

For five years, she has been the English as an Additional Language (EAL) lead at the primary school.

In 2020, she was shortlisted for the TES Classroom Support Assistant of the Year Award.

During the pandemic, she prepared and delivered meals across London to NHS workers, families and children in need, and the homeless.

She volunteered four times a week at the newly established Southall food distribution service, provided by the Southall Community Alliance

Ragini also volunteers at the Ealing Soup Kitchen, as an activity co-ordinator at West Middlesex Hospital mental health unit, for the Ealing Advice Service and the Felix Project, a food redistribution waste charity.