Tag Archive: christmas

I’m dreaming of a White (Rose) Christmas

Leave a Comment
DONATIONS: The White Rose Shopping Centre received over 5,000 donated gifts for their chosen charities

DONATIONS: The White Rose Shopping Centre received over 5,000 donated gifts for their chosen charities

White Rose Shopping Centre customers have donated in excess of 5,000 gifts to local charities thanks to the centre’s Giving Tree hosted in December.

So generous are White Rose shoppers that the centre begun distributing gifts to the two chosen charities earlier than planned – an incredible feat benefitting two worthwhile causes, Kids Klub and Yorkshire Children’s Trust.

The gifts will be a wonderful surprise for children who otherwise might not get any gifts under the Christmas tree this year.

Simon of Yorkshire Children’s Trust said: “We’re so grateful for the support of White Rose and Heart Yorkshire, thank you to everyone that has donated.

“Buying presents is last thing families need to worry about when a child is diagnosed with an illness or disability, and we’re made up that so many people shared festive joy with the families we support.”

Jess of Kidz Klub Leeds added: “The donations from White Rose shoppers have exceeded all of our expectations and we've been overwhelmed by people’s generosity.  

“We're all about loving and supporting the children of Leeds, and delivering the presents before Christmas really helped us to do this. We want to thank everybody involved.”

Additional to the customer donations, both the White Rose WHSmith and Argos stores chose to donate gifts to the Giving Tree rather than doing a team Secret Santa drive.

Francesca Simpson, Marketing Manager for White Rose Shopping Centre, said: “We’re absolutely delighted that our customers supported the Giving Tree with such gusto.  

“We’re proud of our place in the Yorkshire community and especially our ability to offer something for everyone under our roof, so we’re thrilled that we could have a hand in ensuring that the donations received have gone such a long way to put smiles on the faces of children across Yorkshire this festive season.”

Share

A happy halal holiday: Christmas for the elderly in Bradford

Leave a Comment
DIG IN: Invited elderly residents enjoyed their meals alongside representatives from Bradford’s faith groups and local councillors

DIG IN: Invited elderly residents enjoyed their meals alongside representatives from Bradford’s faith groups and local councillors

Official statistics suggest that around 400,000 pensioners across the UK suffer from loneliness at Christmas.

With that sobering thought in mind, religious groups from across Bradford joined forces on 25th December to serve up a Christmas dinner with all the trimmings to the city’s isolated elderly residents.

From sprouts and carrots to a specially ordered halal turkey, the festive feast was attended by around 75 people at the Khidmat Centre.

The event was organised in partnership with the charity Muslim Hands, the Council for Mosques, Bishop of Bradford and West Yorkshire Sikh Forum, with food served on the day by MyLahore.

Sofia Buncy, of Muslim Hands, said: “I am thrilled by the level of support I have received from different faith communities, local elected members and community volunteers.

“Leaders of other faith communities wanted to be present but understandably couldn’t be because of their other commitments but their best wishes were with us. At Muslim Hands we are very proud of being involved.”

CHRISTMAS DINNER: A traditional dinner was prepared with all the trimmings for around 75 people on the day

CHRISTMAS DINNER: A traditional dinner was prepared with all the trimmings for around 75 people on the day

As well as the attendance of local faith representatives: Mohammed Rafiq Sehgal, Bishop Toby Howard and Nirmal Singh, a host of Bradford councillors were also on hand to serve up the tasty platefuls.

Aneela Ahmed, Nazam Azam, Shakeela Lal, and Mohammed Amran were armed with ladles and plates, whilst former professional rugby player, Ikram Butt, brought some Christmas cheer.

In previous years, the dinner has been organised by the Council for Mosques and Khidmat centre as a way of bringing together the elderly Christian community with other faiths.

Mohammed Rafiq Sehgal, President of Council for Mosques, said it was important to always remember the most vulnerable in society and praised the unity of Bradford’s religious groups.

“The Council for Mosques and Khidmat Centre’s Christmas dinner has become a bit of tradition for in recent years,” he said.

“This year we are pleased to have the Bishop’s office and the West York Sikh Forum coming to support the initiative.

“Bradford has a number of diverse faith festivals and occasions which should serve to bring people together and showcase faith togetherness.”

FESTIVE FEAST: A special halal turkey was provided by JW Young’s Butchers for all to enjoy

FESTIVE FEAST: A special halal turkey was provided by JW Young’s Butchers for all to enjoy

Share

All faiths in one basket: Hamper delivery unites all religions

Leave a Comment
WORKING TOGETHER: The team distributed the hampers to refugee and asylum families across Bradford just in time for Christmas

WORKING TOGETHER: The team distributed the hampers to refugee and asylum families across Bradford just in time for Christmas

Representatives from a range of Bradford’s faith groups came together just in time for Christmas as they delivered some ‘festive feast’ hampers to homes across the city.

Headed up by the charity, Muslim Hands, the team purchased, packed and distributed the goods, with favourites such as mince pies, Brussels sprouts and warming soups all included.

On the day, Council for Mosques President, Rafiq Sehgal; Bishop of Bradford, the Rt Rev Toby Howarth; Yorkshire Sikh Forum member, Nirmal Singh; and Sofia Buncy, from Muslim Hands, came together to carry out the project.

With recipients of the hampers identified by local refugee and asylum providers, over 25 families were catered for on the day.

Sofia, who was a key orchestrator of the event, explained how the initiative had come about.

“When I came to Bradford about a year ago, I worked closely with the City of Sanctuary group and faith representatives to write up and sign up to a pledge – a ‘Charter of Compassion’,” she said.

“Off the back of that, we have been making hampers for Christmas for refugee and asylum seeker families so they can really celebrate Christmas with dignity, in the sanctuary of their own home.

“We have come together as faith communities and have also been supported by businesses in the city.”

UNITED: The multifaith team packed and distributed Christmas hampers with al the trimmings (l-r, back row) Council for Mosques President, Rafiq Sehgal; Khidmat Centre Board of Directors Chairperson, Sher Azam; Bishop of Bradford, Rt Rev Toby Howarth; Yorkshire Sikh Forum member, Nirmal Singh; (l-r, front row) Muslim Hand Volunteer, Rabia Azhar, and Community Development Co-ordinator, Sofia Buncy

UNITED: The multifaith team packed and distributed Christmas hampers with al the trimmings (l-r, back row) Council for Mosques President, Rafiq Sehgal; Khidmat Centre Board of Directors Chairperson, Sher Azam; Bishop of Bradford, Rt Rev Toby Howarth; Yorkshire Sikh Forum member, Nirmal Singh; (l-r, front row) Muslim Hand Volunteer, Rabia Azhar, and Community Development Co-ordinator, Sofia Buncy

As well as delivering the hampers, the group also spoke with families about what they would be doing to celebrate Christmas this year.

The Rt Rev Toby Howarth said: “I think for me, what’s most interesting, is that this group of people have been doing this work for five years now.

“There’s nothing new about this work, but I feel that we need to tell the story a bit more.

“There is so much negative narrative in the news today making people can get the impression that communities only look after themselves. Muslims look after Muslims, Christians looks after Christians - this isn’t the case.

“I don’t want to sound patronising but I’m really proud of Bradford. It has so much to offer to the country and events like these show what it is like to live well together.”

Following on from the hamper delivery, faith groups will again unite on 25th December to serve up a traditional Christmas Dinner from the Khidmat Centre for elderly members of the city’s Christian community.

It is the fifth year in a row that such an event has been held with Hindus, Sikhs, Christians and Muslims represented on the day to further reinforce Bradford’s message of unity.

Sofia added: “There’s a lot of soul searching going on in our communities at the moment I think.

“Especially after Brexit, people are questioning themselves and other communities.

“When you do something like this, it’s warming. Compassion is the common thread throughout all of our religions and we’re trying to concentrate on the commonalities rather than the differences which divide.”

Share

Sleighing at speed: Santa set to race through Yorkshire in 2.4 seconds on 25th!

Leave a Comment

Santa will be spending a brief 2.4 seconds in West Yorkshire this Christmas Eve, racing through the county at a lightning 2,989 km per second (around 1,850 miles per second), research by Leeds-based White Rose Shopping Centre has revealed.

The study was undertaken after it was confirmed that White Rose is the Leeds shopping centre closest to West Yorkshire’s geographical centre – the perfect place for Santa to stop and gather gifts for all of the region’s children.

According to the figures, Santa spends just 2.4 seconds in West Yorkshire on the eve of the big day. Assuming his time is split according to the population of each district, Santa spends just milliseconds in each location:

         Leeds: 810.24 milliseconds

         Wakefield: 351.12 milliseconds

         Kirklees: 455.76 milliseconds

         Calderdale: 219.6 milliseconds

         Bradford: 563.28 milliseconds

If the generous folk of West Yorkshire leave Santa one mince pie per household, the man himself will consume around 967,891 in those brief seconds – a calorie intake of around 241,972,750 (allowing around 250 calories per mince pie).

Steven Foster, General Manager of White Rose Shopping Centre, said: “We’ve always gone above and beyond to help our customers enjoy a fun and hassle-free festive season, and we’re delighted to be perfectly positioned to help Santa put smiles on the faces of children across West Yorkshire too. 

“We’d like to invite Santa to pop in after-hours to pick up some toys and goodies from our wonderful selection of stores – with this much choice, we’re sure he won’t struggle to check everything off his list. There’s plenty of free parking spaces for his sleigh, too.”

Stephen Carver of the School of Geography at the University of Leeds, who completed the geographical research, said: “After looking into the geographical polygon centroid of West Yorkshire, it seems that White Rose’s location would be a perfect base for the man in the red suit to stop and re-stock his sleigh. As his reindeer travel around 510,000,000km around the world on Christmas Eve, I’m sure they’ll be grateful for the brief chance to rest their hooves.”

Following the research, White Rose has illustrated a suggested route to help Santa on his way – travelling through West Yorkshire east to west, to make the most of the night time available to him.

Share

Delivering the gift of Christmas: Local gift-giver brightens up the BRI

Leave a Comment

Children at Bradford Royal Infirmary could have been forgiven if they thought Santa was in disguise this year after local optician, Sajid Bashir, dropped by with some special surprises for young patients.

Although he was not wearing the classic red suit and hat combo, the generous gift-giver pulled up outside the hospital with a sleigh-load of gifts for kids of all ages.

From cuddly toys to board games and even a miniature JCB digger, the toys were handed over to play specialist, Alison Kay, on the children’s ward on Wednesday 21st December.

Explaining why he wanted to carry out the project this year, Sajid said it was an important time for so many communities.

He said: “It is the Islamic holy month of Rabi-Ul-Awwal, which marks the birth of Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him) and is a joyous occasion for Muslims in the UK and worldwide.

“It also coincides with the Christmas period which is also a joyous occasion for many. It’s basically a period of double celebration.

“I wanted to think of the less fortunate in a time we will spend time with our families but for poorly children in hospitals it can be a lonely period.

“After speaking to my friend Nazim Ali, we decided to undertake this heartfelt gesture to put a smile on the children’s faces.”

Sajid was joined by Nazim on the day as well as his two-year-old daughter, Shifa Fatima.

As a child, Nazim suffered from tuberculosis and was treated at the BRI himself.

He added that he takes part in a yearly toy donation to the hospital, after seeing firsthand how lonely it can be away from your family at a time of celebration.

He said: “Over the last four years, I have distributed Eid Gifts to poorly children at BRI’s Childrens Ward 17 having spent time there as a child.

“I commend Sajid for thinking of these innocent children and making their festive season that much more enjoyable. The essence of Islam is to give back and benefit wider society."

Share

Do they know it’s Christmas time at all? …They do now!

Leave a Comment
HAPPY CHILDREN: Children can now look forward to opening gifts on 25th December

HAPPY CHILDREN: Children can now look forward to opening gifts on 25th December

A group of generous Muslims from Huddersfield brought seasonal joy to foster care children this month, after they were moved by an appeal by a local policewoman.

The Ahmadiyya Muslim Youth Association (AMYA) were touched by the ‘devastating story’ PC Sally Baines highlighted on her Twitter feed, regarding two young boys who had a difficult upbringing and who never received any toys at Christmas.

PC Baines, of West Yorkshire Police, had asked for help on social media on Friday 16th December, saying the two boys had never had basic belongings.

She tweeted: “Just been told about 2 kids under 6 who have been taken into Foster Care. Never had pillows, toothbrushes, toys. I am heartbroken.

“Been asked if I can donate any toys or books for them.....I think I will be going shopping this weekend to get them some stuff.”

Shazad Ahmed, from AMYA, said: “We often visit local children's hospitals to donate toys and gifts to those less fortunate than ourselves at this time of year.”

GENEROUS: Festive joy was brought to kids who never receive Christmas presents

GENEROUS: Festive joy was brought to kids who never receive Christmas presents

Idris Yousaf, the local co-ordinator for welfare and charities for AMYA, set about organising a visit by children and young people to meet and give gifts to the two youngsters, aged five and six.

Idris said: “Being proud British and Yorkshire Muslims, we’re obliged and always keen to help those in need wherever we can, especially children like these two little gems who are facing difficult emotional challenges during this time of the year.
“We are grateful to the police for highlighting the case of the two lovely children and giving us the opportunity to help. This is what true community spirit is all about! And to be honest, such cases touch a very deep part of our hearts.”

The group’s charitable efforts have not ended there, as they have already visited local nursing homes in Sheffield, Rotherham and Huddersfield and plan to visit more on Christmas Eve and Christmas day.

Shazad added: “We've also helped cater for a homeless feeding session in Sheffield City Centre where we helped feed 60 less fortunate members of society.”

On New Year's day, volunteers are also going to clean Yorkshire’s streets, including Huddersfield, Sheffield, Rotherham, Doncaster and Scunthorpe.

Share

From Lapland to London: Santa’s helpers perform stunning magic

Leave a Comment
COLOURFUL: It’s always fun to get out the big parachute! (Pic cred: Raj Tailor)

COLOURFUL: It’s always fun to get out the big parachute! (Pic cred: Raj Tailor)

On Saturday 10th December 2016, award-winning Magician, Girio, took to the floor in sparkling silver shoes to perform stunning and hilarious close-up magic at the Darji Mitra Mandal’s Christmas Party.

It was a magical day with real reindeers also attending the event, giving members of the public the opportunity to see in-person Santa’s magical helpers.

The day comprised of members of the public being able to see the reindeers and even an owl, with Members of the Darji Mitra Mandal entertained by magic from Girio, playing games, making arts and crafts and - of course - getting presents delivered by Father Christmas himself.

 ENTERTAINMENT: Girio was there to perform magic on the day       (Pic cred: Raj Tailor)

ENTERTAINMENT: Girio was there to perform magic on the day (Pic cred: Raj Tailor)

Pravin Jivan, President of the Darji Mitra Mandal, commented At Girio and Hemmel’s magic show, I had a dream to bring real reindeers to our Children’s Christmas Party.

“People thought I was mad. Maybe I was, as with only a few weeks to go until the event, could it even be possible?”

He added: “Through generous donations, we managed to raise £1,900 to give children a once in a lifetime opportunity - to see real reindeers.

“With the help of committee members and volunteers, the event was a great success and we are already thinking of how we can top this event for 2017.”

FESTIVE FUN: Children had an amazing time watching magic and seeing real-life reindeers (Pic cred: Raj Tailor)

FESTIVE FUN: Children had an amazing time watching magic and seeing real-life reindeers (Pic cred: Raj Tailor)

Share

Christmas’ unlikely star: Amazon ad makes Leicester Imam a festive face

Leave a Comment
IT’S KNEEL-Y CHRISTMAS!: Zubeir Hassam and Rev. Gary Bradley are the two stars of Amazon’s Christmas ad this year

IT’S KNEEL-Y CHRISTMAS!: Zubeir Hassam and Rev. Gary Bradley are the two stars of Amazon’s Christmas ad this year

Forget the northern star; Imam Zubeir Hassam is the Midlands star.

A man who very few people may know by name, he is the clergyman selected by Amazon to front their 2016 Christmas ad this year.

Depicting the story of an imam and a priest at Christmas, the advert shows the two respected faith leaders exchanging presents, which both turn out to be knee supports for their prayers and sermons.

Seen across all major channels, the commercial was praised by social commentators from every background.

For Zubeir, he says it was a good reflection of true faith relationships.

“The reaction from my community across Leicestershire has been tremendous,” he said during a Facebook Live video on Al Jazeera.

“It was the reflection that showed that the two faiths get along very well ... And I think that hug we gave each other that really got everyone.”

When not on television, Zubeir is a principal of the Muslim School Oadby, in Leicestershire, whilst his co-star, Reverend Gary Bradley, is the vicar of Little Venice in London.

The pair have since become friends following their unexpected rise to fame and are in regular contact with each other.

Whether or not the duo will be exchanging gifts this Christmas is yet to be seen, yet Zubeir insists it is something he promotes amongst all communities.

“We do this kind of thing all the time (exchanging gifts),” he said. “It is just that it is never shown on television.

“There are not reports going out saying faith leaders are getting on. This ad has probably broken that ice and has brought more people together.

“I am sure come Christmas, neighbours will be knocking on each other’s doors, saying ‘I am Zubeir and I bring something for you’. I do that often in my street where I live and take food to the doors.”

Share

They fish you a ‘Merry Chipmas’! Local takeaway to serve free Xmas dinners for the homeless on the 25th

Leave a Comment

Christmas can sometimes be a lonely and unforgiving time when you’re on your own - or struggling to make ends meet.

To spread a little festive cheer, one chip shop is Birmingham will be opening its doors on Christmas Day to feed the homeless and elderly.

Brothers Asef and Hamid Faqiri – who run The Classic Fish Bar in Erdington - are digging into their own pockets and will be dishing up a turkey dinner with all the trimmings for their local customers.

Asef said: “I’ve been here for two years, and I’ve seen many homeless people here.

“There’s also alot of older people and they probably would love to have Christmas dinner. They haven’t got Christmas dinner to eat on the special day so we thought we would treat them. It’s a small thing but we want to do it and we hope it makes them happy. We want to help the poor and homeless. We’re doing it for God and the greater good.”

There will also be free fish and chips for those wanting something simpler, or for those who follow a pescatarian diet.

Staff will prepare, cook and serve up a steaming traditional turkey dinner in takeaway boxes to hand out to anyone who turns up between 1pm and 4pm.

A sign has been put up in the shop window advertising the event.

It has been shared widely on social media and the brothers are also urging their customers to spread the word.

Asef added: “We are cooking it up in the kitchen and it’s not all going to be fish and chips or donner meat! It’s going to be a proper traditional dinner. This will be the first time we’ve done this but I’m sure it won’t be the last!”

Share

Christmas community festive feelings! A lovely neighbourly event promotes cohesion in Manchester

Leave a Comment
FESTIVE CHEER: Chief Inspector Umer Khan and his colleague enjoy the festive spirit with children at the event

FESTIVE CHEER: Chief Inspector Umer Khan and his colleague enjoy the festive spirit with children at the event

The diversity and strong community cohesion in Manchester was evident to see this Sunday 18th December, as people gathered for a multi-faith event in Cheetham Hill.

Local group ‘Rainbow Surprise’ was supported by the Manchester City Council and the ‘Near Neighbours Programme’  in order to hold a 'WeStandTogether' Cohesion event in the car park.

The venue, close to Cheetham Hill Road, was voted the most diverse road in the country.

It was no surprise that the stalls covered a range of different cultures, as people of diverse faiths and beliefs lined up side by side.

GOOD TIMES: MEP Afzal Khan and guests had plenty of fun at a community cohesion event at Cheetham Hill

GOOD TIMES: MEP Afzal Khan and guests had plenty of fun at a community cohesion event at Cheetham Hill

Chief Inspector Umer Khan of Greater Manchester Police said: “Christians, Muslims, Jews, Sikhs and Hindus were all there. There were hundreds of people from  all walks and backgrounds, coming together to celebrate the different cultures foods and sounds from around the world.

“I would like to thank the organisers and all those who attended who made the occasion a special one.”

Afzal Khan, MEP, said “It was a great community event.”

Share

Nursery rhyme nativity

Leave a Comment
CHRISTMAS WISHES: The children performed familiar nursery rhyme songs which appealed to all ages

CHRISTMAS WISHES: The children performed familiar nursery rhyme songs which appealed to all ages

Youngsters at The Grammar School at Leeds perform unique Christmas play

Reception children at Rose Court, the Nursery and Pre-prep of The Grammar School at Leeds (GSAL), performed a nativity play that appealed to all ages.

As well as traditional carols, the music included the Christmas story set to familiar nursery rhyme tunes so there was plenty for the cast’s fellow pupils, mums, dads and grandparents to enjoy.

Rose Court enjoys a special friendship with the residents and staff of Headingley Hall Care Home, and carer Jack Clarke brought residents John and June to the school to watch the performance.

John said: “I’m lost for words at what these youngsters can do, and grateful to everyone for organising getting us here, I love to be here at Rose Court.”

Next week the Rose Court choir will visit Headingley Hall to sing carols for the residents.

Music teacher Mrs Chris Turner said: “We’ve been taking children to visit at Headingley Hall regularly for the last four years or so, to sing for the residents and for other special events. With every group I take the children amaze me; they are so natural and interact very well.”

Jack said: “We love having this local link with Rose Court and welcoming the children to Headingley Hall. The children can’t wait to chat and ask questions, and learn lots talking with our residents about the past.”

Share

Christmas for the homeless: Festive meal for Yorkshire’s rough sleepers at Mumtaz Leeds

Leave a Comment
SERVING UP A TREAT: Sajeed Mahmood (centre), from the Just Give charity, is spearheading the project in conjunction with Mumtaz Leeds, and will help feed dozens of local homeless later this month

SERVING UP A TREAT: Sajeed Mahmood (centre), from the Just Give charity, is spearheading the project in conjunction with Mumtaz Leeds, and will help feed dozens of local homeless later this month

One of Leeds’ most eminent Indian restaurants is opening its doors to the homeless this month, as they spread a little festive joy to society’s ‘forgotten’ members.

Mumtaz Leeds, on Clarence Dock, will welcome around 60 rough sleepers to their iconic dining establishment on 19th December for a Christmas meal to remember.

With the help of Sajeed Mahmood, from ‘Just Give’ charity, owner Rab Nawaz has arranged for every homeless person to get a free dinner, with Chicken ‘Turkey’ Masala on the menu.

Swapping frosty streets for five-star surroundings, the project is one which has ‘never before been seen in the city’ according to organisers, and for Rab it is a great way of giving back.

He said: “Saj contacted me about the project and I immediately liked the idea. These people are less fortunate than so many of us in society and can’t go to fine dining restaurants, like Mumtaz. It’s coming up to Christmas and it’s a Christmas present from me to them.

“It’s good to treat them and give them the experience of coming to a restaurant which has swinging chandeliers and a grand piano. They’re going to have a great time here.”

Rab is funding the whole night out of his own pocket in the true spirit of Christmas, promising a top end dining experience for every guest on the day.

“It will be special,” he added.

Sajeed, the CEO of Just Give, is the brainchild behind the event.

Setting the charity up with ambitious plans for the future, he says the Christmas with the homeless project is just the first of many initiatives supporters can get involved with.

“Usually the homeless get served food outside in the cold by some great charities but here they can enjoy it in comfort,” he said. “They can say they’ve sat down to a five star meal and it makes it more special, especially at this time of the year.

“It’s Christmas after all and they could be on their own. Instead, we are giving dozens of people the chance to dine and chat with an array of different people, like MP Imran Hussain, Geoff Reid – the Lord Mayor of Bradford – and other local dignitaries.”

Mumtaz Leeds’ Christmas dinner for the homeless will be held on Monday 19th December between 10am and 3.30pm.

If you would like to find out more about Just Give, or make a donation, please visit www.justgive.org.uk or contact the team via 0300 80 80 111 or info@justgive.org.uk

Share

Merry “stress”mas? 1 in 10 worried about money in run up to the festive period

Leave a Comment
WORRIED: Around two percent of Britons say they lose sleep as a result of Christmas money problems

WORRIED: Around two percent of Britons say they lose sleep as a result of Christmas money problems

Five million Britons suffer from money worries and stress in the run up to Christmas and one in three adults are putting Christmas presents on credit this year, according to new research from National Debtline, run by charity the Money Advice Trust.

The research, based on a poll of more than 2,000 British adults conducted online by YouGov for National Debtline, suggests that around five million people ‘regularly worry’ and ‘feel stressed’ about money in the run up to Christmas, with three million experiencing a negative impact on their enjoyment of the holiday as a result.

The findings come as National Debtline launches its #FeelsLikeChristmas social media campaign to highlight the positive impact that seeking free debt advice can have in easing money worries at this time of year.

One in 10 Britons say they ‘regularly worry’ about money in the run up to Christmas, while the same proportion ‘feel stressed’ about how much they are spending – equivalent to an estimated five million people

Six percent say that money worries are having a negative impact on their enjoyment of Christmas, equivalent to an estimated three million people.

Two percent of Britons say they even lose sleep as a result of Christmas money worries.

The findings also show that a large number of households are continuing to turn to credit to cover the cost of Christmas this year.

The charity says its research shows there are millions of people who could benefit from seeking advice to help relieve money worries at this time of year.  Three quarters of callers to National Debtline say they feel less stressed as a result of the advice they receive.

Joanna Elson OBE, chief executive of the Money Advice Trust, the charity that runs National Debtline, said: “Money worries can have a huge impact on your life at any time – but the fact that they are putting Christmas at risk for up to five million people shows what an extremely difficult time of year this can be.

“This is also, of course, a busy time of year – and it is easy to see why many people don’t want to deal with financial problems in December.

“However, our research shows there are millions of people worrying about Christmas finances who could benefit from seeking advice now, to start to resolve their financial problems. Three quarters of callers to National Debtline tell us they feel less stressed as a result – and often that first step is the hardest to take.

National Debtline offers free, independent advice online via www.nationaldebtline.org and on 0808 808 4000, Monday to Friday 9am to 8pm and Saturday 9.30am to 1pm.

Four Christmas money tips

Set your festive budget

  • Setting a festive budget is probably the single most useful step you can take to manage your Christmas spending – but fewer than one in three of us do this. Make a list of who you need to buy presents for, set a budget for each and stick to it.  Plan ahead when it comes to your other shopping too, for example on food, decorations, and visiting family and friends.

Keep paying bills

  • Don’t forget you still need to pay your normal household bills in December, such as mortgage, rent, council tax, gas and electricity.  If you get paid earlier than usual in December, consider paying these bills straight away, so you know what is left is what you have to spend on your Christmas shopping.

Shop around for deals

  • There are lots of good deals around, even at Christmas. You could leave buying your presents until later in the month as sales often start early.  You could also consider using price comparison websites if you are buying a bigger gift.  Whatever you do, make sure you shop around and get the best price.

Resist the urge to borrow more

  • It can be extremely tempting to borrow money to pay for Christmas costs, but as always with borrowing, you have consider whether you can afford to pay it back.  If you do decide to take out credit, check the terms and conditions and create a household budget to make sure you the repayments won’t leave you in difficulty.
Share

Parklane ‘Give a Gift’ to Cumbria: Presents delivered for a late Christmas surprise

Leave a Comment
PRESENTS: Gifts were wrapped and delivered to victims of the floods just in time for Christmas

PRESENTS: Gifts were wrapped and delivered to victims of the floods just in time for Christmas

They may have been better equipped with a boat than Santa’s sleigh when it came to delivering presents this Christmas, yet a charitable group of volunteers from Leeds would not let flood waters stand in their way of bringing festive joy to Cumbria.

Following the torrential downpour of Storm Desmond, members of the Give a Gift initiative joined forces with The Parklane Group to donate and deliver over £10,000 worth of gifts and aid to victims of the floods.

For the past three years the two organisations have been working together to support various community projects and charity initiatives across the UK.

On Christmas Eve, their focus was switched to the major clean-up operation in Cumbria where families were forced to go without necessities over the holidays.

Via the donations from the Parklane Group and other organisations, the Give a Gift initiative provided communities with much needed goods and provisions.  

GIFT GIVING: Volunteers took a truck load of gifts and aid to Cumbria over the Christmas holidays

GIFT GIVING: Volunteers took a truck load of gifts and aid to Cumbria over the Christmas holidays

Managing Director of Parklane Properties, Naveen Ahmed, said “We were devastated to see the effects of the storm in Cumbria and once we knew that Hamara was planning to visit the area on Christmas Eve, we immediately offered our support.

“Hopefully the gifts and financial support will provide some welcome reprieve as the community looks to re-build following the storm.”

Give a Gift was established to give the local Muslim Community a chance to play a wider role within mainstream society.

Raising thousands of pounds every year for local causes - Martin House Children’s Hospice and the Children’s Heart Surgery Fund at the Leeds General Infirmary - volunteers kick-start their charitable efforts each year with the annual Eid gift distribution.

Give a Gift Ambassador, Hanif Malik, hoped the gifts donated to residents in Cumbria would make a difference.

“The damage caused in Cumbria has affected thousands of people, so we welcome the support of any business or individual that has the ability to help,” he said.

“We’d like to thank Naveen and the team at Parklane for offering their support on Christmas Eve with this kind donation. We know it will make a real difference to the communities that need it.”

Share

The Great Selection Box Appeal enjoys its third successful year

Leave a Comment
CHOCOLATE MOUNTAIN: Qais and Sarah delivered their bounty-load of sweet treats to the BRI Children’s Ward on Monday

CHOCOLATE MOUNTAIN: Qais and Sarah delivered their bounty-load of sweet treats to the BRI Children’s Ward on Monday

Sweet gesture for hospital kids thanks to December duo 

A kind-hearted duo from Bradford and Leeds have succeeded in their mission to collect over 250 chocolate selection boxes for the third year running.

Their aim? To make kids happy at Christmas.

Children at the Bradford Royal Infirmary and Airedale Hospital looked intrigued (and delighted) as the Sarah Royal and Qais Ashfaq wheeled in boxes upon boxes of the festive chocs earlier this week.

Sarah said: “It’s so nice for the kids on Christmas day to have something to wake up to. It’s can’t be that great spending Christmas in hospital.

“I raise funds through social media, like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and I also hound my family and friends for about a month until they’ve all bought some.”

Sarah continues: “People can buy a box, or they can give us a pound, or however much they want. This year we have beaten the target on boxes already, so we have about £300 spare to give to charity.”

Sarah and Qais have decided to give the money to Centre Point, the leading charity that helps homeless young people. The money is enough to pay for two rooms for a whole year.

Why does Qais do this? He said: “It’s nice to put a smile on the kids’ faces, you can’t go wrong with that can you?”

Cath Piggott, Hospital Play Specialist at the BRI, thanked the volunteers for their support.

When the children see the chocolate boxes, their eyes light up,” she added. “It’s also good for the staff, who sometimes don’t want to be here on Christmas day and it’s a real morale booster.

“The staff light up when they see the kids opening the chocolates. It’s nice for everybody to see. Parents don’t expect it, either. Thank you very much Sarah and Qais.”

If you would like to make a donation to the ‘Great Selection Box Appeal’ this year, please contact Sarah Royal at sarahroyal_8@hotmail.com

Share

Curry Circle HO-HO-HOsts Christmas meal for the homeless

Leave a Comment
FESTIVE FOODIES: Serving up seasonal fare to the homeless

FESTIVE FOODIES: Serving up seasonal fare to the homeless

Communities get together in Bradford for festive fun  

The Carlisle Business Centre in Bradford was packed to the rafters on Thursday 17th December when around 150 people came together to serve up hearty Christmas meals to the homeless.

The Muslim Women’s Council hosted their annual Christmas party for Curry Circle service users which coincided with their second year anniversary.

The festive event was attended by service users, faith representatives, volunteers and business owners.

The Christmas meal was sponsored by Mercure Bankfield Hotel whose staff were on-hand to provide a seamless service. Soul singer Janet Jaye was invited along to belt out some seasonal songs whilst the turkey was served up.

Manager of the Mercure Bankfield Hotel, Sandeep Kaushik, said: “Mercure Bankfield is proud to be associated with the generous and commendable work that Muslim Women’s Council is doing to promote community spirit in Bradford and Keighley.

PREPARATIONS: Getting ready to fill those plates

PREPARATIONS: Getting ready to fill those plates

“The Bankfield Hotel has been a part of Bradford history for the last 70 years and hopes to continue working with the community and the Muslim Women’s Council”.

Adam Raja, Curry Circle Manager, added: “The party was a great way for service users to celebrate Christmas, as well as two years of serving the less fortunate of the community, providing them with a warm friendly environment, which they may otherwise not have access to.”

The Muslim Women’s Council run the Curry Circle every Thursday from 6pm to 8pm at the Carlisle Business Centre.

The scheme was launched when staff at the Carlisle Business Centre noticed people searching through nearby bins for takeaway food.

It is an initiative that provides a hot two-course meal for people who are homeless or struggling to feed themselves. Since its launch in December 2013, the Curry Circle has provided over 10,000 meals.

Anyone wishing to donate or sponsor an event please contact currycircle@muslimwomenscouncil.org.uk or telephone 01274 223230

MERRY CHRISTMAS: The Curry Council with soul singer, Janet Jaye

MERRY CHRISTMAS: The Curry Council with soul singer, Janet Jaye

Share

Next-generation sleigh for Santa

Leave a Comment
ECO-EFFICIENT: Students at the University of Central Lancashire release their version of an aero-dynamic sleigh for Santa

ECO-EFFICIENT: Students at the University of Central Lancashire release their version of an aero-dynamic sleigh for Santa

The University of Central Lancashire has released a render of an improved sleigh for Father Christmas.

After analysing the aerodynamic qualities of Santa’s wagon, the team at UCLAN decided to optimise the vehicle for economy. Improvements were made to the shape and size of the sleigh, as well as the materials used.

An aerodynamic carbon fibre body is the most striking change for the next-generation sleigh, as are the aluminium runners. The students claim that the next-generation sleigh will reduce the strain placed on Santa’s reindeers and could reduce his journey time (32 hours to travel to every house on the planet) by up to three hours.

Reuben Taylor, 1st year Mechanical Engineer, UCLAN explained, “We’ve been working on our own ultra- efficient vehicle for next year’s Shell Eco-marathon, when we realised how inefficient Santa’s sleigh actually is”.

The Shell Eco-marathon is a regular competition in which teams of engineers devise ultra-low fuel consumption vehicles compete to go the furthest with the least fuel. The UCLAN team hope to enter a vehicle when the Eco-marathon comes to London in June 2016.

The current record, set using hydrogen, is equivalent to 15,000mpg in a petrol engine.

Tony Broad, Lecturer and Project Leader, UCLAN added, “The first thing that stood out to us was the really high levels of drag. There’s a big area where turbulent air circles around the sleigh and recirculates behind it, and that makes it harder for him to move forward. Do you know how much Christmas spirit he must waste each year?”

Share

A Christmas visit

Leave a Comment
CHRISTMAS: Children from Iqra Academy handed out gifts to residents at The Mount Residential Home earlier this week

CHRISTMAS: Children from Iqra Academy handed out gifts to residents at The Mount Residential Home earlier this week

Young and old come together to celebrate festive season

A bus-load of Christmas cheer pulled up outside a Bradford residential home earlier this week as schoolchildren brought an early present to some elderly residents in the city.

Pupils and staff from Iqra Academy arrived at The Mount Residential Home on Monday 7th December armed with gifts and crafts for a day of activity.

Making cards with residents, for grandchildren and family members, children discussed what this time of year means to them and what celebrations will be occurring this year.

Head teacher at Iqra Academy, Shahnaz Bleem, praised the attitude of the schoolchildren who had shown ‘great enthusiasm’ in build up to the event.

“This project is organised to give children the opportunity to give something back to the community,” she explained.

“Every year, different kids are selected and they are always a credit to the school with behaviour and enthusiasm.

“To speak with residents here, many of whom have dementia, is something we take great pride in and are thankful for the team at The Mount who have let us come in today.”

SMILES: Aizah Choudry helps Jack create a Christmas card during an arts and crafts session

SMILES: Aizah Choudry helps Jack create a Christmas card during an arts and crafts session

“It has been a great day today and the children and staff have really enjoyed it.

The school carries out a similar project every winter during the festive period to give children a chance to spread Christmas cheer during the holidays.

As well as the arts and crafts session, pupils handed over early Christmas presents to residents at the home, including mugs and soft toys around the giant Christmas tree.

Jackie Clarkson is acting manager at The Mount and said the residents always enjoyed seeing the children at christmas.

“The residents look forward to seeing the children at this time of year and they always have smiles on their faces,” she said.

“It is great to welcome in the kids for us and to see them interact with some of the residents is fantastic.”

Share

The Great Selection Box Appeal

Leave a Comment
PRESENTS: Sarah Royal and Qais Ashfaq delivered hundreds of selection boxes to children in hospitals across Bradford last year

PRESENTS: Sarah Royal and Qais Ashfaq delivered hundreds of selection boxes to children in hospitals across Bradford last year

‘Make a child smile this Christmas’

A pair of secret Santas have begun planning their Christmas surprises for children in Bradford this year as they aim to ensure every child gets a sweet treat on the big day.   

Last year, friends Sarah Royal and Qais Ashfaq collected over 250 chocolate selection boxes for children at the Bradford Royal Infirmary and Airedale Hospital.

Now, with the festive season once again upon us, the duo are calling on the public to help beat this target and bring even more presents to children in the local hospitals.

“The appeal was initially set up because I wanted to do something nice for kids who were in hospital at Christmas,” Sarah explained.

“This year, we have once again set ourselves the target of collecting 260 boxes and are calling on anyone who can help, to make a donation of a selection box.

“The response so far has been great, with friends and family already collecting lots of boxes for the appeal. Hopefully we can make even more children smile this Christmas.”

The appeal was initially set up by Sarah, 26, two years ago and last year she enrolled the help of her long time friend, Qais, for the 2015 initiative.

APPEAL: Sarah Royal hands over some selection boxes to BRI’s senior play specialist, Alison Kay

APPEAL: Sarah Royal hands over some selection boxes to BRI’s senior play specialist, Alison Kay

The team collected a total of 264 boxes last Christmas, with a further £320 in cash handed over to charities, Martin House Children’s Hospice and the Association of Young People with ME (AYME).

This year, the appeal team are again calling for donations of selection boxes, whilst any monetary contributions will be spent on the purchase of further boxes or donated to a local charity.

Qais added: “It is an appeal which Sarah started and I have got on board to help in whatever way I can.

“For me, it is a great thing to be involved with at this time of year as we look to give something to children who have to spend their Christmas in hospital.”

Through his rising stature in the boxing world, Qais has helped spread the word further about the appeal and is confident of breaking last year’s collection record.

“Sarah is the brains behind the project,” he added. “Last year I only had a couple of days to speak to people about the project but this year we have got a lot more time.

CHOCOLATE: Qais Ashfaq is confident of beating the appeal target this year

CHOCOLATE: Qais Ashfaq is confident of beating the appeal target this year

“Hopefully we can collect even more donations and I will certainly be spreading the message in coming weeks.”

If you would like to make a donation to the

‘Great Selection Box Appeal’ this year, please contact Sarah Royal at sarahroyal_8@hotmail.com

Share

Selecting children first

Leave a Comment
PRESENTS: Qais Ashfaq joined Sarah’s appeal this year and hopes to build on the success of last year’s initiative

PRESENTS: Qais Ashfaq joined Sarah’s appeal this year and hopes to build on the success of last year’s initiative

Scrumptious gifts to be delivered at Christmas

A pair of generous fundraisers are aiming to bring a smile to the faces of children in local hospitals by giving them a sweet treat this Christmas.

Sarah Royal, from Idle, Bradford, and Qais Ashfaq, from Leeds, are currently collecting selection boxes for the children’s ward at Bradford Royal Infirmary.

Following a similar campaign held at the end of 2013 by Sarah and her friends, the 25-year-old decided to take on the challenge once again this year in the hope of spreading the gift-giving spirit.

GIVING: Sarah Royal will be continuing the appeal for a second year as she aims to bring selection boxes to children in hospital this Christmas

GIVING: Sarah Royal will be continuing the appeal for a second year as she aims to bring selection boxes to children in hospital this Christmas

Asking for donations of a selection box, or cash to purchase the products, before the 19th December ‘delivery day’, the collection continues to gain momentum in the build up to the holidays.

And this year, Sarah is joined in the appeal by her friend, and Commonwealth Silver medallist, Qais Ashfaq.

“I saw Sarah was doing the campaign again this year and I was really interested in helping in whatever way I could,” Qais said about the project.

“In our first week, we had around £150 donated to the appeal which will all be put towards selection boxes for children in the Bradford Royal Infirmary.”

Qais added that the initial response has been much better than he could have anticipated but urged people to continue giving.

“When I put it on my Twitter feed that Sarah and I were doing this, we got a great response with people immediately saying they wanted to donate and get involved,” he added.

“Our initial target was just to bring the gifts to one hospital but hopefully if the donations keep coming in we could even provide the selection boxes to more hospitals.

“Last year, Sarah and her friends also donated whatever extra funds they had left after buying the boxes to charity so every penny is put towards a good cause.”

If you would like to donate a selection box, or just a couple of pounds for the purchase of one, please contact either Sarah Royal on sarahroyal_8@hotmail.com, or Qais Ashfaq via qais_ashfaq@hotmail.co.uk

Share

What is Christmas?

Leave a Comment
LEARNING: Children smile outside the Christmas decorations in Trinity Leeds shopping centre

LEARNING: Children smile outside the Christmas decorations in Trinity Leeds shopping centre.

Kids experience Christmas the ‘bright way’

With just over one month left to go until Christmas day arrives, a class of young pupils from Leeds headed to the city centre last week to learn a bit more about what the holidays mean to the British public.

Children from Bankside Primary School, along with teachers and parents, headed out to the streets for a look at the Christmas lights which were officially switched on Tuesday 13th November.

The young school representatives visited Trinity Leeds Shopping Centre and the Victoria Quarter amongst other popular sites.

Taking in all the festivities, Early Years Foundation Stage teacher, Mr Salik Miah, said it was important for children to understand British customs, traditions and festivals, even if some families do not celebrate the same holidays.

“The majority of children at our school come from a Bangladeshi background and then Pakistani so there is a lot of different cultures in the classroom,” Mr Miah said.

“We decided to take them to see the lights because a lot of them would not get the chance to see them for whatever reason, and we wanted to help build up their knowledge of British life.”

He added: “We have also held Christmas-related learning activities in classes and talked about the holidays.”

Despite being in the bottom one per cent of the most deprived areas in the country, Bankside Primary was rated ‘Good’ with ‘Outstanding’ features in 2009 and has subsequently earned a valued status as one of the top educational institutions in Harehills.

The three-form entry school currently caters for almost 700 children, from all faiths and backgrounds, with almost 100 staff members on hand to ensure every child receives the utmost attention.

Share

Feeding the Homeless

Leave a Comment

As many of us welcomed in the New Year with a family dinner, a team from one of Bradford’s top restaurants headed to a local homeless shelter to serve up dinner in style.

Staff from Aakash restaurant visited the Edmund Street homeless shelter with bags of food ready to be prepared for hundreds of hungry visitors.

With more than one hundred dishes served, and a similar amount frozen for use on a later day, the event was a huge success as day shelter manager, Magda Dziurkowska explained.

TEAM: Aakash staff with Day Shelter Manager Magda Dziurkowska and Catering Manager Margaret Mazek

TEAM: Aakash staff with Day Shelter Manager Magda Dziurkowska and Catering Manager Margaret Mazek

“On New Year’s Day, to be able to welcome around 15 volunteers from Aakash restaurant, all with their own food for serving was amazing,” she said.

“A lot of people who use our services will never have had the chance to visit a restaurant so for the team to be able to bring their amazing food to the shelter was really appreciated.

“We work every day on such a tight budget, and something like this helps massively with the costs for a day of running as well as allowing our dedicated team of chefs and volunteers the chance to have a well earned rest.”

DINNER: The team prepared and served food to more than 100 people whilst enough food was saved for 100 more

DINNER: The team prepared and served food to more than 100 people whilst enough food was saved for 100 more

Magda Dziurkowska has been Day Shelter Manager at Edmund Street Shelter, where food, advice and medical consultations are all available for people who are struggling in society.

The New Year event proved to be a welcomed experience for volunteers and clients alike as the Bradford community once again pulled together for a pioneering initiative.

Azhar Mahmood, restaurant manager at Aakash, now hopes to get more eateries across the city involved with working alongside shelters to ensure everybody has access to a warm, quality meal all year round.

He said: “Over the course of 2013 we watched on as government cuts affected families across the country, driving more and more people into poverty with many struggling to even have access to food.

Azhar Mahmood serves up a dish of restaurant quality to a visitor of the shelter during the New Year’s event

Azhar Mahmood serves up a dish of restaurant quality to a visitor of the shelter during the New Year’s event

“We want to ensure that 2014 is different and the event on New Year’s Day is hopefully just the first of many whereby restaurateurs across Bradford take responsibility to ensure nobody goes hungry this year.

“There are a lot more than 300 restaurants in the city so if we could all come together and just take it in turns to give food to the shelter then it would mean hundreds of people’s lives could be helped.

“As I said to my staff, we should be thankful to be on this side of the counter and that is something I am actively trying to spread the message of so other restaurants follow suit.”

He added: “It not only provides people who are struggling with a quality meal but it also helps these crucial shelters which survive on such a small budget yet cater for more than a hundred people every day.”

If any restaurateurs would like to speak with Azhar in regard to hosting a similar initiative, please phone Aakash Restaurant on 01274 878 866.

Share