As Cysters is a volunteer led charity, we are grateful to all those to give up their time to support our mission. We are by the community for the community. Without the support of our volunteers we would not be able to continue with our work.
Our Trustees are responsibility for the management and overseeing the work of Cysters, to ensure it remains true to its ethos and vision. They are instrumental in providing strategic vision and leadership to grow our work across the region.
They are all from racialized diverse backgrounds and all live with chronic illnesses. We felt it was important for this community to be run, managed and held accountable from and by our community. We are growing as an organization and would love to have more people as part of our trustee team, we are small but ambitious.
If you feel you could add to our mission – then please do get in touch!
Neelam Heera a Tedx Speaker, founded Cysters after facing her own battles around getting her diagnosis and care for PCOS, Endometriosis and PMDD. She saw first-hand the disparities in healthcare for people of colour and other marginalized groups, thus Cysters was born. Neelam felt that issues around reproductive health was often trivialised by healthcare professionals and sexualised by racialized communities due to outdated cultural beliefs, male dominated spaces and patriarchy.
The work Cysters do is constantly evolving to reflect the diverse population serviced for example, most recently the organisation changed their name to show their commitment to the trans communities by removing the word “woman.” Due to this Neelam was faced with weeks of online abuse, all because she dared to act and create safe inclusive places. Our logo reflects our need to create our own tables, reclaim our narrative and ultimately stand together to make a difference.
Often marginalised communities are left out of conversations around health that concern them, they are not reflected in research, and they are never invited to the table to co-develop solutions that will filter down to grassroots communities. Neelam’s work has been recognised by the Pride of Britain and Point of Light awards from the Prime Minister and was named as ones of Birmingham’s 30 under 30.
Faye Van Heeren
Fayee is a solicitor by profession and has been one of our first trustees since the charity was founded in 2016. Fayee has been crucial to its inception and has been instrumental in supporting the many changes Cysters has gone through.
Fayee had met our founder Neelam a few years before at a networking event, where they discovered they both had very similar values and cultural upbringings, whilst also navigating chronic health issues in an underrepresented community. They decided the best way to tackle this was by creating these safe spaces.
Fayee takes great pride and passion in acting as a trustee, to offer guidance and assist the charity with its strategy and plans in achieving its objectives, to support and helping others in the chronic illness [and reproductive health] community.
Nikita is a writer, poet and social commentator who advocates for an intersectional lens and approach to be utilised – she is committed to spotlighting the ‘other’, those who are chronically unheard and underrepresented within society. She is particularly interested in the power of creativity, and how it intersects with disability and identity.
Her poetry focuses on the diaspora experience, mental health and identity:
“Jallianwalla Bagh” was published by Arachne Press within the 2021 anthology: “Where we find ourselves”.