Naseem Akhtar has spent over 20 years inspiring and encouraging thousands of women in inner city Birmingham and has transformed their lives through physical activity.

Naseem is the project manager at Saheli Hub, a charity in Balsall Heath run by women for women, which aims to improve health and wellbeing and encourage participation in exercise and sport. The hub is based in Calthorpe Park and operates out of three wellbeing centres and two GP practices.

Since starting the charity in 1998, Naseem set up The Young Sahelis, a youth club for girls aged 14-25; The Saheli Running Club, which has seen over 75 women run half marathons and seven women complete full marathons; and The Saheli Cycling Club which has taught over 2,000 women to ride a bike.

Naseem has always been passionate about breaking down barriers to exercise for women in her community. She’s channelled this passion into creating opportunities for local women of all abilities to gain confidence to take part.

Saheli Hub welcomes around 1,600 women a year, 80% of which are from diverse ethnic backgrounds, who have now started their physical activity journey with Naseem and the Saheli Hub, regularly taking part in walking, jogging, cycling, chair-based exercises, yoga, pilates and body conditioning.

In 2019, Naseem was awarded a British Empire Medal for her work in encouraging thousands of women to lead healthier lifestyles.