Up Your Street meets Sara Elnasr, the Queen of Tea in Leyton:
More tea, Imam? What drives a woman of mature years to fund and organise a weekly event for all women in Leyton? What makes anyone come out in all weathers to raise the spirits of their peers?
How does one decide whether to buy croissants or paninis, chick pea salad or salsa?
Well, Sara Elnasr, thirty plus years resident in Leyton and positive to the extreme, just gets on with it.
Each Thursday nothing interrupts her from opening up the little building next to Noor Ul Islam Mosque in Leyton High Road at 2pm for a couple of hours (and an hour earlier in the darkening winter months) It aims to entertain, and to share food and information with a group of women; grandmothers and new mothers.
Sara insists that the club is for any woman in Leyton and she sure makes everyone welcome. As well as developing her own skills by attending various courses, and caring for her world-wide family, Sara organises coach and train day trips for her Tea Club attendees.
Last June , twelve women went by train to visit a mosque in Birmingham and to visit the shopping centre there . Shopping was done! In August nearly thirty women from the Tea Club went to the Isle of Wight by coach. This October Sara and the group visited Walthamstow’s William Morris Gallery and Lloyd Park.
Asked what drives her to carry on, Sara told me that she is retired now. “I joined the tea club as a member in 2010. There were two young ladies who were in charge. One left for university, and I became the assistant. Last year the other young lady got married and asked me to run the group. I like helping especially as a volunteer counsellor on a one to one basis. We talk about anything, do knitting and crochet, share photographs, discuss what’s going on and meet new people. The tea club will there for a long time. Noor Ul Islam Mosque always intended to have volunteers run a tea group for at least once a week .”
Sara believes the Tea Club is successful because the women from all ages and backgrounds love to come for a chat over a cup of tea and biscuits. Sara added, “They feel happy when they are here. We often do some physical exercise too like Tai Chi.”