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by emma last modified 03/05/2022 12:31 PM

In memoriam: Simi Chowdhry

A tribute to Simi Chowdhry, 1947-2021

Trinity would like to give celebration to the life and work of Simi Chowdhry, founder of Awaz Utaoh, who sadly passed in November 2021.

Simi was a hugely dedicated and influential figure in Bristol’s voluntary sector, devoting her life to the betterment of services for the city’s South Asian community, developing a wealth of activities that included a multi-faith youth service for young people, the first Asian youth festival, an Asian radio show on BBC Bristol and a day care centre for elderly Asian people.

She is most known for her work with Awaz Utaoh, meaning 'raise your voice'. The charity was established in 1997 and has supported women primarily from across Bristol's South Asian community for decades.

Through her work with Awaz, Simi was able to develop and deliver a regular programme of activities embracing and connecting women of all religions. She was a strong and inspiring figurehead for a core group of women who met every Wednesday at Trinity, until her retirement prior to the pandemic. She crafted a safe space for well-being and empowerment that helped to unite and give voice to women of all ages.

For anyone who was blessed with the good fortune to attend Awaz, you were welcomed by a space full of music, dancing, food and fun. Thanks to Simi’s generosity and spirit, everyone was made to feel like part of one big family, of which she was very much the mother figure.

Over the years, Simi’s dedication and work in the voluntary sector has been recognised through several awards including the Lord Mayor’s Medal.

Towards the end, sustaining this valuable work became an increasingly uphill struggle, with the challenges of cuts to funding compounded by Simi’s own declining health. Still, she persisted, never giving up, to ensure that the women who relied on this service continued to have somewhere to go. As one of the women using this service was quoted; "What the statutory agencies of the city could not do for them over the last 15 years, Awaz Utaoh did it.”

We give thanks to this hugely important woman and hope that her work and vision will serve as inspiration to others that - in spite of all our differences and the challenges we face - if we raise our voice, one woman can have the power to bring change, hope and light to the world around her.

Simi's family have created a memorial page where those who knew her can leave their words, photos and memories.

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