Naima Ben Moussa of Lady in Red Plastering is wielding a hawk and trowel as a force for good. Professional Builder’s Lee Jones talks to the plasterer about the vital voluntary work she has carried out for the sufferers of domestic abuse.
The experience of the pandemic has revealed just how important local tradespeople can be, not just to their own clients but to whole communities. There have been numerous tales of builders undertaking often small but cherished acts of kindness that have shone a light admist dark times, but for Naima Ben Moussa an encounter with a domestic abuse victim has made her determined to put her building skills to good use, and the Derbyshire-based plasterer is now intent on continuing to help others.
“I met a woman whose home had suffered terrible damage from her abusive partner, and what she was going through was simply heart-breaking,” recalls Naima. “The only money she had was from benefits, which was never going to recover the repairs, so I started a fund raiser. The response we had was incredible and we’ve since improved her domestic space considerably.”
In age of social media, Naima’s selfless support quickly found a receptive and admiring audience, and she has subsequently featured in the Daily Mail and on BBC Radio 2. As a result, she has now raised over £60,000, which has meant that more women in a similar situation have been able to benefit from her combination of benevolence and proficiency in plastering. “There are so many women in a similar situation and the next step is to get companies and organisations on board who can help drive the whole thing forward,” she continues. “At the same time, we want to raise some of the issues around domestic abuse and give sufferers the confidence to ask for help.”
Naima is now working to set up a registered charity and develop a network of tradespeople who want to help. “The level of support we’ve already received is not something we really anticipated,” confesses the 36-year-old spreader, “but it’s now an opportunity.” Naima’s determination to turn her skills as a tradesperson to good use is reflected in an equal resolve to become a plasterer. Like many aspiring builders her career progression in the industry was curtailed when, in the spring of 2020, lockdown brought the shutters down on much of our society. She has, however, doggedly pursued her ambitions, and has since set up her own business, Lady in Red Plastering, which began trading in March of this year.
Whilst women have made tentative inroads into some construction professions, a female presence in the wet trades is still a rare commodity, but Naima was inspired by positive experiences of working on site with her step father and, although she’s encountered some barriers since, the 36 year old has fulfilled her building industry aspirations.
“It was difficult to get a job at first, but I was indebted to Andrew Rogers of A P Rogers Plastering for giving me a chance,” Naima explains. “He’s a wonderful plasterer and I’ve learnt a lot from him, and I’ve managed to keep going throughout the pandemic period as a consequence. It has undoubtedly been challenging at times, and I have been subject to some negative and outdated attitudes, but I like to think I am quite a tough character when it comes to things like that. Now that I have my own business, I feel that I’m in a position where I can carve out my own space.”
“At the same time, it has been a positive journey and hopefully I can inspire others to consider the building trades as a viable option. I do struggle to think of myself as a role model, to be honest, but when I appeared on BBC Radio 2 I did get women reaching out to me who were interested in the trades, and I have tried to point them in the right direction. On a personal level my own dream is to master some of the more decorative skills, such as Venetian plastering and, once I have more experience, that is a path I want to pursue. Whether is with my business, or in the charitable works, I am determined to make it happen, and I’m certainly not giving up.”
If you want to get in touch with Naima Ben Moussa of Lady in Red Plastering, and get involved in her charitable works, then visit https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/naimaredbenmoussa?utm_id=107&utm_term=DRJzDY9bq