A former child refugee who empowered women by setting up an inspirational centre in Barking is in line for an award.

Zahra Ibrahim has been shortlisted in the community and charity category of the 2021 National Lottery Awards for her work with the Excel Women’s Association (EWA), which is dedicated to helping women find their voice.

Galvanised by her experiences of the Somali Civil War, Zahra founded EWA 25 years ago as an informal meet-up and support group, but it has grown to offer services for women and girls of all ages.

She is one of five finalists in her category of the awards, which celebrate inspiring National Lottery-funded people and projects.

The winner will receive a £3,000 cash prize for their organisation.

Zahra said the funding EWA has received has “changed the lives of so many women”.

“It helped build our café which allows us to host different activities that serve women in the community and for that I am so grateful," she added.