Happiful Unsung Hero: The Founder of You Make It

Kathryn Wheeler
By Kathryn Wheeler,
updated on Jun 18, 2018

Happiful Unsung Hero: The Founder of You Make It

Nominated by her collegue, Roxi Jahanshahi, Asma Shah is transforming the lives of women in her community

After her mother died of cancer in 2009, Asma Shah felt propelled to channel her creativity and passion into helping others.

Asma Shah

Asma Shah

You Make It (YMI) is a charity offering support and mentoring to working class girls and women in London. Asma founded YMI in 2011 with virtually no funding, and has been using her own lived experiences to help participants explore, and break down, the barriers that they face in finding success and happiness.

Turning to social activism seemed natural to Asma, who has been trailblazing transformative work for women dealing with mental health issues, childhood and relationship traumas, abuse, homelessness and neglect ever since.

YMI’s six-month long programme focuses on wellbeing, health, happiness and self-esteem, as well developing professional skills. Through a combination of one-to-one mentoring, workshops, work placements, and counselling and pastoral care, YMI has transformed the lives of 180 young women. Of the 87% of women on the course who began when they were on benefits and struggling to make ends meet, 81% are now in long-term employment, and 82% of all graduates are employed or in further education.


On a personal note, Asma is described by her collegue Roxi Jahanshahi as “an incredibly warm, giving and special woman, who has given much of herself to ensure that other women from backgrounds similar to hers can break free of the chains of poverty, depression and powerlessness”.

“Since founding YMI in the midst of her grief, Asma has drawn upon a seemingly limitless reserve of empathy and resilience, particularly through the first five years without a team, and also in periods of intense, personal hardship,” Roxi tells us. “She is sustained by her endless capacity for compassion – reminding each woman of their innate worth and potential.”

To find out more about You Make it, visit

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