Thousands of Bradford families eat during the holidays thanks to city’s response

A NEW food voucher scheme has been set up to help families in need and restore a sense of “dignity”.

The Bradford Foundation Trust has supported vulnerable families for many years and often provides for asylum seekers, refugees and those who have no recourse to public funds.

As the pressures of pandemic hits people’s finances, the trust has handed out thousands of meals to vulnerable families alongside businesses, community organisations and Bradford Council.

But with more than 900 people from over 50 different cultures and ethnicities, it has become increasingly difficult to create a food parcel that “best meets the needs of all these families”.

Many families had been concerned about having to come into ask for food, expressing reluctance and a sense of shame. The trust revealed how the type of households using its food bank service has changed throughout the pandemic, including many people who have been made redundant and are desperate as they wait for a universal credit application to be approved.

And as the new virus strain spreads around the country, Mr Hussain hopes it will also be a safer alternative to get help to people without the movement of parcels and deliveries around the city.

The trust continues to deliver food packs for families who may not have access to transport as well as those shielding and self-isolating.

Shadim Hussain, a member of Bradford Foundation Trust, told the Telegraph & Argus: “As time has progressed, we now are serving people from over 50 different cultures and ethnicities. Therefore, it is almost impossible to create a food parcel that best meets the needs of all these families.

“We have worked alongside a number of retailers in Bradford and developed a new voucher scheme where families will be provided with a voucher at a store close to them. We believe this scheme will give them the dignity they deserve to have a choice in what they eat.”

If any asylum seeker or destitute families need help with food over the Christmas holidays you can call the emergency number on 07394 117053. The service will be available every day 10am-6pm from now until January 3.

With the vouchers valid at a number of different shops, the trust hopes more businesses will join the list of brands involved with the scheme and email

Explaining why his business is taking part, Yusef Asghar, CEO of Kanapeena Supermarket, said: “The levels of poverty and deprivation in Bradford is really worrying. Vouchers give customers choice of what food they buy and gives us an opportunity to help those most in need in a dignified way.”

Bilal Ghafoor, CEO of Manchester Superstores, added: “There is a great need in the community and under privileged families and children are struggling more due to the pandemic.”

Over at Frizinghall Community Centre, businessman and trustee Zafar Mahmood, part of a group of volunteers feeding families across Bradford, described the “brightness” on people’s faces when they receive a package. Their packages support single parents, disadvantaged families and asylum seekers.

Mr Mahmood said: “When we hand out food to them, the looks on their faces, it’s clearly fantastic – the brightness, inside they feel happy.

“Myself and all the trustees and volunteers, I’m very grateful to them. It’s not easy. People talk but delivering it is not easy. We try our best to help our community.

“We give them fruit and nourishment for healthy eating. We have curries, pilau rice, chicken curry. Some days we give them a sweet dish.

“It’s different everyday.

“People are coming from all over now. We have ones from BD2, BD9, BD18. It’s mainly Frizinghall.”

The community centre’s Winter Food Support scheme will operate between 1-2pm until January 3.

Meanwhile, the Youth Association and Roma community handed out more than 1,500 meals have to residents at risk of going hungry in Great Horton.

Dmitry Fedotov, operations director at The Youth Association, said: “In a year like this one families need more support than ever to ensure they can put food on the table for themselves and the kids. So with the support of Stronger Communities at Bradford Council, that’s what we’re doing, we’re with some local residents and some local young people who are volunteering their time to distribute somewhere in the region of 1500 meals to the community of Great Horton, particularly reaching some of the most vulnerable and disadvantaged families.”

Matt Henderson, who works for Bradford For Everyone, added: “Bradford For Everyone are proud to support the work of the youth association and their community ambassadors working in Great Horton to bring communities together to support each other and tackle challenges together, they’ve been amazing especially during the pandemic.”


The faces behind the new Leeds food bank in Harehills that has fed 2,000 families

A new food bank that opened in Harehills only six weeks ago has already helped 1,800 struggling families.

Aihtsham Rashid, Anwar Aziz, Mo Ali, Nazim Younis, Abdul Hussain, Kabir Miah and Saj Siddique are the team behind The Akhirah Team, a Leeds-based humanitarian group.

Although they have worked on a number of projects abroad, the non-profit charity launched a food bank at home after seeing families struggling during the coronavirus pandemic.

Mo Ali, 41, who grew up in Harehills, said since they opened they have been in touch with schools around east Leeds who they now provide weekly food parcels to including Hovingham Primary School and Roundhay High School.

They have also distributed food to families around Chapel Allerton and Roundhay. On Christmas Day, they even took food parcels to an elderly home in Cross Gates.

Despite, opening to help people because of the pandemic, the organisations plans to stay long term.

Mo said: “I’ve been born and bred in Harehills, the same house my father bought about 60 or 70 years ago for about £300, I’m still living in that house.

“Its a shame about the bad press the area gets but the locals also need to make the effect themselves. We are local people. The foodbank has been set up by Harehills children, now men. We’re proud that we’re a Harehills charity, a Leeds charity and a Muslim charity.

“We help all people regardless of their religion or background.”


The “comedian” Humza Arshad and the “gay Muslim” Khakan Qureshi have been recognised in the 2020 New Year’s Honours List.

The “comedian” Humza Arshad and the “gay Muslim” Khakan Qureshi have been recognised in the 2020 New Year’s Honours List.

The honours are approved by the government and Buckingham Palace before being dispensed. They are often seen as a reward for carrying out work approved by the authorities.

Arshad, who runs a very popular YouTube channel, was given an MBE (Member of the Order of the British Empire) for services to education.

The 35 year old “Diary of a Bad Man” star, described the award as the biggest surprise of his life. He said: “It’s crazy… it means I’m a national treasure now. I’m going to meet the Queen soon… all I can say is thank you… out of nowhere God gives you something that you are eternally grateful for. This is going to go down in history. This is probably the biggest achievement of my life and I am so happy.”

Arshad has been involved in counter-extremism work in schools organised by the Metropolitan Police and East Midlands Police to help “prevent the radicalisation of British Muslims.” He made a 15-minute film “Think for Yourself” to show teenagers the dangers of exposure to extremist messages.

Meanwhile, Khakan Qureshi was awarded a Medal of the Order of the British Empire for services to LGBT Equality.

The 49 year old is a support worker and founder of Finding A Voice, Birmingham’s first voluntary-led, independent multi-faith South Asians LGBT social /support group. He is also a Diversity Role Model, speaker and writer.

He has been especially vocal in opposing anti-LGBT teaching protests outside Birmingham schools.

On his website he says: “My faith has given me the impetus to question the traditional ways, culture and boundaries/barriers we have placed upon ourselves. I’d like to think that as LGBT+ Muslims, we can be united by reaching out and speaking up. I think it’s really important for communities to work together to help make societal progress.

“While we make efforts to respect each others’ individual beliefs and identities, we should all be striving collectively to improve the lives of those who less fortunate, struggling with mental health oppression and insecurities about their own self worth and being.”

The Muslim Council of Britain congratulated all “those extraordinary individuals recognised in the 2020 New Year’s Honours List” which “recognises people who have committed themselves to serving and helping Britain, and who have made achievements in public life.”

The 2020 New Year’s Honours Muslim award winners include many health, educational and social workers as well as diversity consultants:


Malini NEBHRAJANI Legal Director, Department for Health and Social Care Legal Advisers, Government Legal Department. For public service.


Fayyaz AFZAL Circuit Judge, England and Wales. For services to the Judiciary and to Diversity and Inclusion.


Anwar ALI Founder and Director, Upturn Enterprise Ltd. For services to Social Enterprise.

Azhar ALI Leader of Labour Group, Lancashire County Council. For services to the community in North West England.

Dhiya AL-JUMEILY Professor of Artificial Intelligence, Liverpool John Moores University. For services to Scientific Research.

Farah Naz Kausar BHATTI Consultant Cardiothoracic Surgeon. For services to Diversity in the NHS in Wales.

Fozia Tanvir IRFAN Chief Executive Officer, Bedfordshire and Luton Community Foundation and Trustee, Association of Charitable Foundations. For services to the community in Bedfordshire, particularly during the Covid-19 Response.

Asiyah RAVAT Executive Principal, Star Academies. For services to Education in Birmingham


Norah AL-ANI Director, Cambridge Rape Crisis Centre. For services to Social Justice and to Gender Equality.

Malique Jamal AL-SHABAZZ Constable, Merseyside Police. For services to Policing and Ethnic Minority Communities in Merseyside.

Nisreen Ala-Din Sahib ALWAN Associate Professor in Public Health, Southampton University. For services to Medicine and Public Health during Covid-19.

Humza ARSHAD Comedian and Writer. For services to Education.

Ismail Mohammed GANGAT Founder and Proprietor, Azhar Academy Girls’ School, Forest Gate. For services to Education in East London.

Mohammad Tayyab HAIDER Medical Director, Basildon and Thurrock University Hospitals.

NHS Foundation Trust. For services to the NHS, particularly during the Covid-19 Response and to the community in Essex.

Mohammad Imran HAMID For services to Youth Empowerment and Social Welfare Projects.

Abdul MAJID For services to Integration in Glasgow and to Charity in Scotland and Abroad.

Hamid MOTRAGHI Lately Chair, Home Office Race Network and Chair, Civil Service Race Forum. For services to Diversity and Inclusion.

Khairun NISA Foster Carer, Leeds City Council. For services to Fostering.

Raad SHAKIR, Professor of Neurology (Visiting), Imperial College London. For services to Global Neurology.

Hora SOLTANI-KARBASCHI Professor of Maternal and Infant Health, Sheffield Hallam University. For services to Higher Education and to Maternal and Infant Health.

Shahab UDDIN Director of Legal, British Olympic Association. For services to Sport during the Covid-19 Response.


Samira AHMAD Assistant Scientific Officer, Animal and Plant Health Agency. For services to Animal Health during the Covid-19 Response and to the community in Woking, Surrey.

Azeem ALAM Co-Founder, BiteMedicine and Junior Doctor, Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust. For services to Medical Education during Covid-19.

Swaran CHOWDHARY For services to Kidney Research UK, Organ Donation and South Asian communities in Scotland.

Imran Ahmed CHOWDHURY For services to Community Cohesion in Northampton.

Golam Mahbab Alam CHOWDHURY Refugee Support Staff and Emergency Responder, British Red Cross. For services to Healthcare during the Covid-19 Response.

Amir Simon HANNAN General Practitioner, Haughton Thornley Medical Centre. For services to General Practice in Hyde and Haughton Green, Metropolitan Borough of Tameside.

Ziaul KHAN For services to the community in Sheffield.

Nadeem Sadiq KHAN Charity Helpline Housing Adviser and Team Leader, Shelter. For services to the Homeless during the Covid-19 Response.

Khakan Munir QURESHI Senior Independent Living Officer, Midland Heart. For services to LGBT Equality.

Aminur Khosru RAHMAN Chair, Kent Area Committee, Institution of Mechanical Engineers. For services to Education.

Syedur RAHMAN For services to Charity in Leicester.

Azizur RAHMAN Foods Section Manager, Marks and Spencer. For services to the community in London during the Covid-19 Response.

Mohammed Usman RAKQ Senior IT Assistant, Glasgow Caledonian University.  For services to Education and to Students with Hearing Impairments.


Read how your Zakat is helping single-mums like Zafira keep a roof over their heads

When single mum Zafira lost a job offer due to COVID-19, her monthly costs became too much and she fell behind on her rent payments. When she felt she had nowhere to turn, she turned to you.

Here’s how your Zakat helped Zafira get on top of her debt and gave her the chance to rebuild her future.

It’s just me and my 19-year-old daughter at home. We’ve always struggled for money, but thankfully we found a way to just about make things work. Life was finally looking up… until COVID-19 hit.

I’d just landed a new job at a school, which meant we were closer to financial stability than we’d ever been. I was planning to tell my daughter she didn’t need to help me pay the bills anymore. But during lockdown, the school withdrew their job offer. They either didn’t need, or couldn’t afford, to hire me anymore.

Just when I thought things couldn’t get any worse, my daughter’s working hours were reduced and, eventually, she lost her retail job.

I had to rely on Universal Credit for all our bills, food shopping and daily essentials – but the money I got didn’t even cover our rent. It wasn’t long before I started missing rent payments and fell into arrears.

When I applied for a hardship grant from National Zakat Foundation (NZF), I was desperate, with no one to turn to.

Thanks to the will of God and the Zakat givers who give through the NZF platform, NZF agreed to pay £2,500 towards my rent arrears.

That not only paid off my arrears, but it gave me the chance to try to find another job and start rebuilding our future – without worrying about how I’d put food on our table today.

I’m just so grateful that your Zakat was able to get me through this difficult time. Who knows what we’d be facing now if it wasn’t for your support. I’m not completely out of the difficult times, but this help gave me some relief from the mental anguish and stress I was facing. People think this kind of poverty doesn’t exist in the UK, but it does. It happened to me. And I’m one of the lucky few who was able to get the support they needed. I’ll never forget the help your Zakat gave me, and I hope one day I’m in a position to give back.

National Zakat Foundation

Pakistan lifts all visa restrictions for Bangladeshis

Pakistan has lifted all restrictions on visas for Bangladeshi citizens and says it is now waiting for Dhaka to do the same.


“Pakistan has already removed all restrictions on Pakistani visas for Bangladeshi citizens,” said a statement by the Pakistan High Commission in Bangladesh after a meeting between Pakistani High Commissioner Imran Ahmed Siddiqui and Bangladesh’s State Minister for Foreign Affairs Md Shahriar Alam on Thursday.


“The two sides agreed to intensify bilateral contacts at all levels,” the statement added.


Siddiqui said: “Bangladesh’s restrictions on Pakistani nationals are still in place, and that is why I informed the state minister that we have already lifted all bars from our side,” he said.


In a separate statement by the Bangladesh foreign ministry, Minister Alam was quoted as saying: “We look forward to engaging with Pakistan.”


Alam also urged Pakistan to grant access to more Bangladeshi products by utilising the existing South Asia Free Trade Agreement (SAFTA) provisions, relaxing the negative list and removing trade barriers. “The current trade balance tilts towards Pakistan,” he said.


Alam also urged Pakistan to offer an official apology “for the genocide committed in the Bangladesh Liberation War of 1971.”


Bangladesh, former East Pakistan, gained independence after a bloody war in 1971 over popular resentment against power being concentrated in West Pakistan.


Bilateral relations between the two nations have remained tense since, but reached a peak in 2009 when Bangladesh established a tribunal to prosecute those accused of war crimes in 1971.


During the war, the country’s largest Islamist party had sided with the Pakistani military in a bid to prevent the breakup of the country.


India, Pakistan’s regional rival, had supported the Bangladeshi fighters for independence.


But analysts say Bangladesh began seeking closer relations with Pakistan over India’s “partial attitude” recently, including monopoly control over shared rivers, killings of unarmed Bangladeshi civilians on the borders, and the passing of the controversial Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA).




Muslim charities feed lorry drivers stuck near Dover over Christmas

Muslim charity workers are spending the festive season supplying hot food and snack boxes to lorry drivers stuck at Dover.

Over 420 meals and boxes of snacks have been provided to those stuck in parked queues along the hard shoulder of the M20 and further meals will be delivered over the coming days, according to The Muslim Charities Forum (MCF).

This scale-up will involve delivering over 3,000 meals per day over the festive period to drivers who will be isolated and away from their families during the holiday period.

More than 1,000 lorries have left the UK since Wednesday evening but many are still trapped at the port of Dover.

The drivers were stranded after France introduced travel restrictions on hauliers crossing the Channel following the emergence of a new mutated strain of coronavirus in the UK.

MCF CEO Fadi Itani said: “This is a deeply desperate situation for numerous drivers that will be unexpectedly spending Christmas and the New Year away from their families. Through this COVID crisis, drivers and truckers have been hugely important in keeping this country moving through the delivery of essential goods. It is only right that in this time where they need support, that we come together to provide them with food, water and essential supplies in appreciation for the vital service.”

Meanwhile, the Al Khair Foundation prepared over 400 lunches of chicken stew and rice as well as hundreds of snack boxes containing drinks, crisps, biscuits and a cereal bar.

The supplies were driven from London down to the coast on Thursday to feed the hungry truckers.

Police provided an escort to the charity workers so the meals and boxes could be safely delivered to each lorry driver stuck along seven miles of motorway.

Al Khair Foundation Head of Special Projects, Imran, Nisar said: “We plan to keep delivering until all the truckers have gone home – even on Christmas Day if necessary. Some of them don’t even have water in their cabs so these supplies are making a big difference to them and also raises their morale. They were so grateful for some basic supplies and a hot meal while they wait to be able to move and go home.”


Milton Keynes Young Muslims spend Christmas Day distributing free gift hampers to the elderly

Young people from the Ahmadiyya Muslim Youth Association (AMYA) were out on the morning of Christmas Day distributing free gift hampers to the elderly in Milton Keynes.

More than 100 local elderly people were visited during the day including residents in city care homes.

All gifts were sourced, packed and delivered by AMYA.

Local youth leader Saeed Nazir said: ”Young Ahmadi Muslims, took time out of their day to try and make a difference to the lives of so many elderly who were by themselves or in care homes.”

“The youth had themselves been making preparation for the gifts. This was a great opportunity for us to fulfil our Islamic duty of serving the needy and to follow in the examples of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him).”

“The AMYA looks to aid in the development of young Muslims. The organisation has been particularly successful in ensuring that its members are a source of peace for the society around them.”

“They are regularly seen in markets, stations and high streets preaching their Islamic motto of ‘Love for All Hatred for None.”


Millwall Community Trust helps Muslim Aid winter campaign to feed 35,000 Londoners

Millwall Community Trust is working with London-based charity Muslim Aid to distribute food to those in need this winter.

Over the next few weeks Muslim Aid, which is now in its 35th year, will be delivering 35,000 meals to 35 locations, including all 32 boroughs of London.

Millwall Community Trust will be one of the centres that Muslim Aid will deliver food to for distribution.

The charity aims to deliver approximately 15 tonnes of food by the end of the month with Muslim Aid volunteers packing, preparing, and distributing the food, in line with social distancing guidelines.

Kashif Shabir, Muslim Aid CEO, said: “Over its 35 years existence, Muslim Aid has been committed to delivering aid all over the world, but We recognise the difficulties people have faced at home here in the UK this year due to the pandemic and we are working hard to support fragile communities.

“Through this initiative, we will reach thousands of people in the UK and make sure that they have food on their tables.

“What makes this project even better is that the food comes from a sustainable source, making use of the abundance of surplus food available, while ensuring that people have access to fresh and nutritious meals this winter.”

The project will be implemented in partnership with the Felix Project, a London-based charity that collects surplus food and distributes it to people in need.

Muslim Aid will be also be working in partnership with The Atrium and Can Hall Mosque which will also be providing some of the food.

The meals will vary from location to location, as they will be tailored to the preferences of the recipients with low-income households, homeless, single parents, asylum seekers and refugees all prioritised.

Food will be delivered in 35 locations, including the 32 boroughs of London, (as well as St Albans, Watford and Luton) and the meals will consist of food such as chicken pasta, and curry and rice, with plenty of fresh vegetables and water.

All food will be sourced from the surplus from UK suppliers, making the project sustainable by redistributing food that would otherwise have gone to waste.

According to Muslim Aid the UK food industry generates nearly 2 million tonnes of edible surplus food each year.

More than 1.9 million people access food banks in the UK, with this number predicted to rise to 2.4 million by the end of this month due to the severe financial pressures families have faced as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

In London alone, 1.5 million adults struggle to afford to eat every day and 400,000 children are at risk of missing their next meal.

Pictured: Muslim Aid workers Farhal Ahmad (Community Officer), Ahmed Choudhury (Volunteers Officer) and Yusuf Kalam (Community & Fundraising Manager)


Hounslow community kitchen worker volunteers despite cancer

A volunteer worker at a Hounslow community kitchen who was diagnosed with stage four cancer continues to deliver food to those who need it.

Sunny Kharbanda was contacted in early April by the Government to advise that due to his illness, he is classed as clinically extremely vulnerable and that he should immediately shield.

Kharbanda began volunteering with charity Muslim Hands’ The Open Kitchen in January and considered giving back to his community a life changing experience.

He said: “I was devastated that I may not be able to continue making a positive difference to the lives of so many that were in need in these unprecedented times. After consulting with my doctor, it was agreed that I would be allowed to leave my home just to continue my volunteer work.

“I am immensely proud to have made of positive difference to the lives of so many people, not just personally, but the collective efforts of the strong team of volunteers which has really helped hundreds if not thousands of residents in these tough times.

“I strive to continue helping and making a positive difference to the lives of those in our local and wider community.”

During the first national lockdown, Kharbanda volunteered at the Open Kitchen seven days a week, delivering hot meals and basic essentials to the elderly, those who were vulnerable as well as those with disabilities.

He continued beyond the initial lockdown being lifted and continues to volunteer not only at the Open Kitchen, but other charities in his local community such as Hounslow Soup Kitchen and ‘Food with Love’.

Kharbanda began to notice that people living alone in particular were really feeling the effects of isolation and the pandemic.

He said that sometimes being the only smiling face a person saw every day gave him a feeling of being relied on, and he felt he built a strong rapport with many of the residents who he was helping.

He added: “Sadly, I had to experience people with underlying health conditions pass away, as well as many people struggling with the mental health aspect of the situation.

“I would love to be able to inspire others to not only give back to their community in these strange times, but also highlight the importance of blood and plasma donations to help save lives, especially with Covid.”

The Open Kitchen provides hot meals for anyone who is facing food poverty, including low-income families and the homeless.

Since Covid they have had to move the service to delivery but remain open seven days a week, serving approximately 100-200 people a day.

The kitchen have also started a new service of bike donations to help the homeless stay active during lockdown and beyond.

Founder of the kitchen Ehsan Choudhry said: “I saw so many people hungry, and always asking for money on the high street. I felt I had to set up something. I serve over 200 meals a day today and also provide deliveries.”

Seema Malhotra MP said: “I have seen the work of Open Kitchen since its launch and have been inspired by the work of the charity and volunteers in serving local people. Its vision for the community of a place to meet and a place to share regardless of who you are has changed the lives of many. Through Covid, it has been a lifeline.”


First Pakistani space scientist at the University of Cambridge wins 2020’s Young Leaders Award

Dr Yarjan Abdul Samad is a Senior Research Associate and a Teaching Fellow at Cambridge Graphene Centre, The Department of Engineering at The University of Cambridge. He is also the first Space Scientist hailing from Pakistan at the University of Cambridge where he has won several awards for his research work.

The latest addition to his awards is the Young Leaders Award for 2020 by the Young Professionals Society (YPS). Dr Yarjan is currently working on a research project on loop heat pipes for use in space applications and he was part of the European Space Agency zero-gravity flight campaign held in Nov-Dec 2017.

The society says, “For this year’s inaugural award, we received some excellent nominations from outstanding young candidates and it was an extremely difficult task for the judges to select a winner. However, after extended discussions, the judges selected Dr Yarjan Abdul Samad from the University of Cambridge (UK) as the winner for this year’s Young Leaders Award 2020.”

Dr Yarjan was in the team of scientists who launched Graphene in the extreme environment of space via the MASER14 Rocket of Europe Space Agency launched from the Kiruna base in Sweden. He has developed sustainable methods of creating e-textiles and flexible and stretchable conductors and composites based on three-dimensional (3D) porous architectures of two-dimensional (2D) and layered materials, typically graphene, that scientists and engineers are benchmarking for aerospace composite manufacturing, biosensing, water purification and energy storage.

He completed his bachelor’s degree in material and metallurgy engineering from GIKI in 2009 and pursued a master’s degree in materials from the Masdar Institute for Science and Technology.