Waitrose and Partners Weekend Issue 579

25 NOVEMB ER 2021 2 NEWS&VIEWS Celebrities and foodies are joining forces for a charity dining event to help vulnerable women, writes Tessa Allingham The power of the sisterhood Restaurateur Ravinder Bhogal has set a target to raise £12,000 to help some of themost vulnerable victims of domestic violence by hosting a fundraiser at herMarylebone restaurant Jikoni. All proceeds fromThe Samosa Sisterhood on 28 November will support the work of Dr Aisha Gill, who campaigns to improve the lives of women and children in the UKwith no recourse to public funds (NRPF). NRPFmeasures mean individuals cannot access basic benefits, and severely impacts asylum seekers who don’t have the right to work. The vulnerability of women has been exacerbated by Covid, says Aisha, professor of criminology at the University of Roehampton, and co-chair of the End Violence AgainstWomen coalition. Her research revealed a 900% rise in cases of domestic abuse during the pandemic. “I was on the front line in terms of putting in place emergency support for victims of gender- based violence,” says Aisha. “Many spoke to dismantle societal prejudices unless we listen to women’s lived experiences, and have them leading campaigns.” Other charities to benefit include London’s Asha Projects and Safety4Sisters inManchester. ComedianMeera Syal, musician Anoushka Shankar, and news anchorMishal Husain are among a stellar line-up entertaining 100 ticket- holders at The Samosa Sisterhood event. Ravinder will read fromher book Jikoni: Proudly Inauthentic Recipes froman Immigrant Kitchen , and pastry chef and Junior Bake O judge Ravneet Gill from her new dessert cookbook, Sugar, I Love You . “It’s so important to raisemoney for those who do not get easy access to public funds and often get overlooked,” says Ravneet, who will also prepare puddings for the event. “Ravinder is such a force in the food world and puts on incredible events. I am honoured to be involved.” On themenu will be samosas and chaat (snacks) such as bhel puri, with its pu ed rice and sweet- spicy-sour chutneys, and savoury steamed dhokla cakes. “Chaat means lick in Punjabi,” says Ravinder. “You can understand why – they’re so delicious, you just want to keep licking your plate!” A Punjabi thali will include channa bhatura – chickpeas with pomegranate and spices – served with deep-fried bhatura bread. Music will be fromDaytimers, a lockdown- born collective of British South Asian artists fromLondon, including DJ Yung Singh. “I love howYung is reviving Punjabi music in such a contemporary way,” says Ravinder. “The Daytimers playmusic across borders in the same way we cook food across borders.” Tickets to The Samosa Sisterhood are sold out, but donations can be made at justgiving.com big name support Ravinder Bhogal’s Jikoni restaurant (main and top right) will host The Samosa Sisterhood charity event supported by Mishal Husain (top) and Meera Syal (above) me about how their abusers used lockdown restrictions and/or the risks of Covid as part of their abuse.” For women withNRPF status, it means individuals can find themselves having to “choose between staying with their abusers, or trying to survive on the streets,” she adds. Ravinder and Aishamet when Aisha celebrated her CBE at Jikoni. “When I heard Aisha talk, I was moved to tears,” says Ravinder. “She is themost optimistic, inspiring woman. Her service doesn’t stop, she’s 365 days a year raising awareness. “We’ve heard stories of women told to sit on the night bus or in A&E [to escape abuse]. What kind of culture do we live in where this is happening?” Among The Samosa Sisterhood’s beneficiaries is Women for RefugeeWomen, which supports more than 350 asylum seekers who ‘face a daily struggle for survival’, says policy and advocacy coordinator Priscilla Dudhia. The charity is campaigning against the proposed Nationality &Borders Bill, where its measures will make it even harder for women fleeing violence to be granted asylum. “Once a person is refused asylum, support is generally terminated and they become open to further abuse, whether domestic or another formof exploitation,” says Ravinder. “We try and create opportunities for these women to be at the forefront because they’re the experts. We won’t Cover photography: Maja Smend, Clare Winäeld