This winter’s distribution saw up to 2000 food packs being distributed by Islamic Relief UK and partners in London, Leeds, Manchester and Birmingham.
On Saturday 30 and Sunday 31 January, Islamic Relief UK worked closely with Give a Gift (Leeds), Myriad Foundation (Manchester), East London Mosque (London) and Green Lane Masjid (Birmingham) to pack and distribute up to 2000 food packs and vouchers for vulnerable people including the homeless, low-income families, those suffering from domestic abuse, asylum seekers and refugees.
The packs contained essential items such as masks, hand sanitation products, gloves, hats, scarves, socks and non-perishable food items which will feed a family for up to two weeks.
Give a Gift in Leeds also partnered with Aldi to make food vouchers available, which enabled families to choose and buy general goods from Aldi stores to supplement their food packs. East London Mosque also made Aldi vouchers available, but both still worked with local suppliers to provide general goods.
East London Mosque, who are based in Whitechapel, have been distributing food within their community since March 2020, when they set up a food bank for the vulnerable. Since then, they have provided essential items to those in need and isolating families, many of whom have been provided culturally appropriate products.
Give a Gift have been recognised for helping all faiths in Leeds. This includes people who do not reach the criteria for benefits and workers such as taxi drivers with low income and families. They have supported families who don’t qualify for the furlough scheme, who are having to turn to food banks and charities, just to provide food for their children.
Green Lane Masjid have been providing support to their community throughout the pandemic across all areas of Birmingham, running a seven day walk-in foodbank and delivering vital emergency food parcels to people self-isolating.
Myriad Foundation have played a vital community role in Manchester, having set up a weekly soup kitchen in the city, rolled out an end to end food bank service and a weekly self-isolation project which delivers thousands of food parcels across the city.
Islamic Relief UK has a long-standing relationship with three of the partners and worked with Myriad Foundation in Manchester for the first time this weekend.
The centres each operated within the Government’s COVID guidelines, with temperature checks, social distancing measures and PPE requirements enforced.
Tufail Hussain, Director of Islamic Relief UK said:
“Having worked closely with Give a Gift, East London Mosque and Green Lane Masjid before, we were delighted to have the opportunity to, once again, help their communities by packing and distributing food over the weekend. We are also humbled that we had the chance to work with Myriad Foundation in Manchester. We hope this food distribution will be the first project of many with Ali Mahmood and his team.
“With the number of coronavirus cases at an all-time, daily high in the UK, it is important – now more than ever – to stand together as a community and provide for those in need.”
Sufia Alam, Manager of East London Mosque & London Muslim Centre, said:
“Lockdown and salary cuts due to furlough has meant more families than ever are struggling to make ends meet. The winter packs will help people who are desperate to find comfort from some basic essentials whilst they are in lockdown with their families; for some of the residents in the shelters it means they’ll have an additional boost to keep them safe with protective mask and hygiene products.
“We also work with vulnerable women who are in Domestic abuse situations and these packs are essential support for them.’’
Ali Mahmood, Chairman of Myriad Foundation said:
“It is truly devastating seeing local families struggle due to the impact of the pandemic, many of whom were facing hardship prior to March 2020. In situations like these, it is the responsibility of the rest of the community to pull together and support those who are less fortunate.
I could not be more proud of our volunteers and the community in general, who have supported us in order to carry out this initiative. Most of us are a payslip away from falling into a position of need and it is heart-warming to know there is support out there.”
Rifhat Malik MBE, Project Manager at Give a Gift said:
“The demand for help during the lockdown was unprecedented and now entering into the third lockdown is overwhelming as more and more people are struggling. We are doing everything we can to help some of the most vulnerable communities including those living below the poverty line, the destitute and asylum seekers. We are also trusted by the communities we serve to ensure that we follow their cultural dietary requirements. With support from local partners such as the Barakah team, the Muslim Kitchen and Leeds City Council, the families feel reassured knowing they will receive a weekly food supply. The support of the community is also enabling us to support non-Muslim families at this vital time.
“We also want to thank Islamic Relief for not just helping those overseas but helping our own communities that we live in.”
Saleem Ahmed, Head of Services and Welfare at Green Lane Masjid, said:
“Alhamdulilah, the masjid has been serving the wider community, Muslim and non-Muslim for many years. Our foodbank has been a vital resource for individuals and families who are experiencing food poverty. The pandemic has exacerbated the need for the foodbank and so we have had to step up and run a seven-day foodbank and deliver food to people most in need. Alhamdulilah this has all been possible with the support from Islamic Relief UK and we are deeply grateful to them for making our work possible.”