Inside Stories: stories of resilience during the pandemic is a series of conversations with people who have been displaced by war, conflict or persecution about their lives, thoughts and hopes for others.
A few weeks into the Covid-19 lockdown, we asked fashion designer Teem Khan what was happening in his life, what was on his mind and what message of resilience he might have for others. Teem is a fashion designer and a refugee who’s LGBTQ community still faces heavy discrimination. In 2020, he graduated from TERN – The Entrepreneurial Refugee Network’s business incubation programme. He is on the Advisory Board of Local Welcome charity and an active supporter of the award-winning campaign #LiftTheBan. He lives in London.
“Both my housemates are currently away due to the coronovirus pandemic, and I thought it would be hard, but I’m having a ball! It’s been the best time creatively.
I registered my business at the beginning of March and have been making a collection for Pride. ‘Fabric has no gender, fashion is fluid’ is the strapline I am using for my brand, but making the full collection is impossible now, so I have pivoted to volunteering to make scrubs for NHS workers, and making masks. I have been adapting some of the masks to be more like my Pride line; rainbows! Sequins! They’re fun, bright, a boost of positivity and they’re very well made. Every time someone buys a mask from my depop page, I gift a mask to an asylum seeker. People don’t always see them as a priority, but I’ve spent time in detention and in Home Office accommodation, so I do. In the last two weeks I’ve given away 51 masks to asylum seekers in London and Manchester. I’ve promised to make 140 of them – that pledge is keeping me motivated.
I’ve given away fifty-one masks and promised to make many more. That pledge is keeping me motivated.
Teem Khan, May 2020
Making the masks helps with my anxiety, too. I have been lucky to be able to chat to my friends daily via video call, and we are able to check on one another. I have a lot of friends, so I have also been reaching out to people who I have not spoken to for a while. I speak to my parents a lot more, who are back at home. I feel very privileged to have friends who love me dearly, I know there are a lot of people who don’t necessarily have that.
The next project on my mind is to cook a biryani for staff members at Queen Mary’s hospital, where my best friend works. People often only take 15-20 mins for lunch, so they don’t always have time to go out. If I’ve been able to make biryani and they love it, it will make me happy.”
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Website www.teemkhan.co.uk – (under construction)
https://www.tern.com – you can support their work at www.ternfund.com