Hope In Tottenham, working alongside North Area Police were delighted to bring Commander Dr. Alison Heydari as a special guest to Park View Students, with the Commander talking through her policing journey and what it is like to be the most senior female Black officer in the UK.
Commander Dr Heydari had been keen to visit Tottenham as part of her wider ‘Behind The Badge’ initiative and she began her morning at Park View School with an assembly for Y9 students.
Introduced by headteacher Mr Andy Webster and North Area Schools Inspector Jasvinder Kaur, she began by detailing her career from Hampshire Police to joining the Met in 2020. Her presentation touched on her Guyanese roots, family values and upbringing in South London before also revealing her love of food and Stevie Wonder!
The Commander also explained the great responsibility that comes with her leadership role and the many people who look to her for guidance on various topics. At the end of the presentation, Commander Dr Heydari took questions from representatives from the students, a part of the presentation she ‘very much enjoyed’.
However, her morning’s work was not over as she had also agreed to talk to a selected group of female Park View students on leadership and achievement. This session was more informal and took the form of a general Q & A. In a candid session, Heydari told the girls that she had been tempted to give up police training at the beginning of her career as it meant she had to leave her children for months at a time, a task she found very difficult. However, the Commander assured the girls that things had changed in the force, with more support now being available for mothers.
The girls also asked whether she had faced any hostility from her friends and family when deciding to be an officer – which she had not, although she knew of those who had. Commander Dr Heydari did reflect on her personal challenges, detailing a time she had faced racism in her job from a member of the public who was then arrested for it.
The students were interested in whether being a woman helped her deal with Domestic Abuse cases; a subject close to Commander Dr Heydari’s as her Criminology Doctorate is in domestic abuse. Explaining that her research showed Domestic Abuse survivors have been willing to share their experiences with her during her research, students let the session better informed.
Other topics were covered during this closed session including mental health support for the police, what it is like to deal with the aftermath of a crime and if she had ever been in personal danger, finishing off with a discussion on what might hold girls back from joining the service.
Hope In Tottenham would like to thank Park View School staff and students especially Mr Andy Webster and Ms Ammie Ferguson for their support and special thanks to Commander Dr Alison Heydari for giving up her time to come to Tottenham.
By Police Engagement Manager, Christina Davis