Uddin started her professional career by creating and leading community working groups in the late 1970s. In 1980, she started working as a Youth and Community worker with the YWCA, and then a Liaison Officer for Tower Hamlets Social Services, and Manager of Tower Hamlets Women’s Health Project. She then began working for Newham social services in 1988. In 1990, Uddin was elected a Labour councillor in the London Borough of Tower Hamlets, the first Bengali woman to hold such an office of a local authority in the United Kingdom. She was the Deputy Leader of Tower Hamlets council from 1994 to 1996.
In 1997, she applied to be the Labour parliamentary candidate for the Bethnal Green and Bow constituency, but did not reach the shortlist. Appointed a Labour “working peer” by Tony Blair, she was raised to the peerage as Baroness Uddin, of Bethnal Green in the London Borough of Tower Hamlets, for life by Letters patent in the afternoon of 18 July 1998, at the House of Lords. She was the youngest woman on the benches and the only Muslim and Asian woman to be appointed to the House of Lords