Tag Archive: community

Heroes of Harehills: Local lads on a mission to raise £15,000 to support the Rohingyan Muslims

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THE TEAM: Harehills heroes, Tanveer ‘Tiki’ Latif, Sajad Sajawal, Osman Ali, Mukid Ali and Shishu Ali, who are all members of Harehills Community Aid who are aiming to raise £15,000 to help the Rohingyan Muslims aid relief

THE TEAM: Harehills heroes, Tanveer ‘Tiki’ Latif, Sajad Sajawal, Osman Ali, Mukid Ali and Shishu Ali, who are all members of Harehills Community Aid who are aiming to raise £15,000 to help the Rohingyan Muslims aid relief

 

“We are called Harehills community Aid for a reason because it’s an area which gets enough bad publicity and we want to help change this and get some positive vibes.”

A group of men from Harehills in Leeds, have set the bar high with their latest charity drive. They’re looking to raise an imposing £15,000 to help the Rohingyan Muslims who have been forced to flee the atrocities in Myanmar to Bangladesh.

The £15,000 target is a large one, but one which will go towards the aid and support to help supply necessities which are taken for granted in this country. Things like clean water, food, and medical aid are high priorities and the money raised will go towards funding this.

There are over half a million people who are in urgent need of humanitarian assistance after they have fled from the violence in Myanmar to seek safety in Bangladesh.

It is largley Rohingyan women and children who have been forced to leave, with many children being left orphaned with families and homes wrecked in the violence. This has caused international outrage and people want to take a stand.

Harehills Community Aid who have been successful with their charity work in the past raising funds for people in France in need are looking to help.

With many of them being Bangladeshi themselves, they speak of their charity campaign for the Rohingyan Aid fund. Mukid Ali explains: “We came together as a group and helped numerous smaller causes around 18-months ago.

“We helped raise funds for a charity who were going over to help out in Syria during Ramadan, and  we made a large donation towards that.

“The idea behind this current campaign came after my recent holiday in Bangladesh with my family.

“Being exposed to how many Rohingyan Muslims refugees are seeking help is heartwrenching.

“The situation is really dire over there, thousands of orphaned children, mothers and homeless people forced to run away seeking aid they so desperatley need.

“Bangladesh is already a third-year country, which is over populated and financially they have always been struggling, so they can’t cope with the influx of Rohingyans going over seeking refuge.”

Mr Ali narrated the horrors of witnessing the after effects of people facing atrocities first hand, and it had such an effect he wanted to help his native country and wanted the local community to help out he explained.

“When I came back the situation over there was that bad and hit me so hard, I decided to get us all together and do something, so we are targeting getting the community on board.

“This time we are really going for it and want to push ourselves as much as we can, we did a lot with the France Aid we did but we believe we can do more and get the community on board even more.

“We have set ourselves a really high target of £15,000, but we know this can be achieved. This will be different though as we all can’t just drive to Bangladesh like we did France, and you can’t just transport things like food and clothes because it becomes too costly.

“So, we decided that one of us will go over in person. I myself have taken that responsibility and will hand over the money.

“I will be covering the cost of this myself from my own pocket. None of what we raise will be going on my expenses, every penny we raise will be going directly to helping with the Rohingyan aid.”

Mr Ali then discusses how they are looking to raise funds for this worthy cause and the support they are already receiving from local organisations such as a college.

Mr Ali says: “We were looking at ways to raise these funds, so on the back of our incredibly successful football tournament we have set up another one for 1st January 2018 at Thomas Danby College through the help of Naved who runs the pitches there. They’ve let us use their pitches for free. They have always been really supportive and a great help we really appreciate what they do for us and our charity work.”

The group are also offering a service in which they are selling fudge cakes to the community for £10, in a service where they will be hand delivering the cakes themselves with all proceeds going directly to the fund, and this has already proved a successful fund-raising method.

“The first week we have had a lot of support from the community with this initiative with over 70 orders on cakes in the first week alone,” he says.

“People do give us encouraging words on the work we do and some people when we get there just give us donations and don’t even ask for a cake.

The Harehills Community Aid group are also looking to get local businesses on board.

“There is one already who are going to put a charity dinner on for us on the 21st of November with all proceeds going directly to our aid fund as well.

“The main thing what we want to achieve is the awareness of the plight of what these people are actually going through and that we need to do whatever we can to help them out and alleviate some of their issues.

Team mate Shishu then emphasised the importance of the community getting on board with what they are trying to achieve: “We are doing a good deed and obviously that’s great and makes us feel good, but it’s not about us it’s about helping them and making a difference to their lives.

“With this cause, knowing people from Bangladesh, along with some of us being Bangladeshi ourselves, we can’t just sit back and let this happen. We are all blessed with family and financially, so we want to stand up and help out.

“Bangladesh is a third world country which suffers with really poor financial problems and hygiene problems and it almost feels like these people are being forgotten and not being treat equally and fair because they are Muslim, and that’s not right at all.”

Mr Ali, issued a rallying call to the local people of Harehills to get behind them.

“We are all hard-working family people who really appreciate what we have, and we will be taking time out to do this and it is really important to us to do,” he says.

“It is important to emphasise how it’s not just the Asian community that’s helping. People from all different communities work together as one and stand united side by side - it’s all about community spirit.”

The Harehills Community Aid group plan to deliver the funds to Bangladesh on 15th January. If you would like to help out with this cause in anyway or purchase a fudge cake you can contact Shishu on: 07912869694 or email harehillscommunityaid@gmail.com. They do advise to order by Thursday to ensure weekend delivery.

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West Yorkshire and Harrogate Health and Care Partnership involve more voluntary and community sector partners

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More than 80 voluntary and community sector (VCS) representatives from West Yorkshire and Harrogate, including MacMillan, Age UK, Action on Hearing Loss, Carers Leeds, Yorkshire Sports Foundation, Alzheimer’s Society and Dementia UK, attended the first of a series of partnership events in Bradford on Monday (November 6).

The purpose of the event was to help them find out more about the West Yorkshire and Harrogate Health and Care Partnership (WY&H HCP), also known as the Sustainability and Transformation Partnership (STP).

It was also aimed at strengthening the importance of the VCS, at a time when the sector is under increasing financial pressure, and giving participants the opportunity to find out more and get involved as equal partners within the health and care partnership.

VCS reps were updated on the partnership’s progress to date, and there was a specific focus on how the VCS could get more involved in the partnership’s priority areas of work, including preventing ill health, cancer, mental health, stroke services, urgent emergency care, supporting unpaid carers and community involvement.

VCS organisations already play a significant role across West Yorkshire and Harrogate, and there are many examples of great work taking place from preventing ill health to urgent and emergency care. One such example is Creative Minds, an award winning organisation that uses creative approaches in healthcare to increase people’s self-esteem, while developing their social skills and helping to improve their quality of life.

Another example is in Wakefield, where GPs, health workers and specialist voluntary workers are involved in making sure people in care homes and supported living schemes have their health and social care needs met and are helped to make the most of activities in their local community.

The event was led by Hannah Howe, Director for Forum Central, a VCS organisation which works with Leeds City Council and the NHS to provide a better life for the people of Leeds, and Dr Soo Nevison, Chief Executive of Community Action Bradford and District.

Event participants also heard from Ian Holmes, Director for the health and care partnership, and Rob Webster, Chief Executive of South West Yorkshire Partnership Foundation Trust and Lead Chief Executive for the partnership.

"The Health and Care Partnership has already stated that its ambitions will not be achieved without involving VCS colleagues as equal partners in the development of the work", said Rob.

“Modern health and care services look after the physical, mental and social needs of people. We need to join up services and look at the whole person. We already know the VCS help us to do this some of the time.

“There is a wealth of expertise across West Yorkshire and Harrogate and the VCS are better placed than many to understand what communities need to keep them well and to make positive change happen at all levels".

Hannah added: “If we are to genuinely work alongside communities as equal partners, we need to change the relationships we have with public sector organisations.

“There is already good leadership from the VCS in the partnership’s work, including Healthwatch, but to make sure our work adds the greatest value possible we need more VCS organisations to be involved. I’m delighted that so many of our VCS colleagues came along today. This is just the start of our journey and I encourage more to get involved”.

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Bids open for £1 million fund for refugee-supporting organisations

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HELP: Refugee Action work with refugees and asylum seekers (library picture)

HELP: Refugee Action work with refugees and asylum seekers (library picture)

 

A £1 million fund for organisations and communities wanting to support refugees coming to the UK opened for bids on Wednesday 1st November.

The fund is for the Community Sponsorship scheme, which enables community groups to take on the rewarding role of welcoming and supporting refuge families in the UK. Sponsor groups can include charities, businesses, local authorities, community groups and third sector organisations.

The scheme is designed to give experienced organisations the resources to provide training and support to groups who want to sponsor refugees. It aims to bring people together from across society to support vulnerable refugees through Community Sponsorship.

Brandon Lewis, Minister of State for Immigration said: “The Community Sponsorship scheme has got off to an excellent start and this funding will help the scheme develop even further.

“The work of the charities and volunteers who have welcomes refugees into their communities so far is inspiring.

“I wholeheartedly encourage organisations who feel that they can help to grow the Community Sponsorship scheme to apply for this funding.”

 


 

Organisation with relevant experience are encouraged to apply to the fund, which seeks to achieve outcomes including:

  •        Training for community groups on how to welcome and support refugees in their area, and how to apply to become sponsors.
  •        Connecting people and organisations who want to help resettled refugees through Community Sponsorship.
  •        Raising awareness of Community Sponsorship across different UK communities.

 


 

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We need to dispel the dangerous myth that it’s only Asian men who sexually assault young women

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“There is no community where men don’t rape girls and we must face up to it.”

Recently, as we saw 17 evil men and one woman found guilty of almost 100 sex abuse offences, we must first acknowledge the bravery of the victims of these brutal crimes, as well as how unimaginable it must be to have to relive the evil and the horrors that they went through.

Anger doesn’t come anywhere near in describing my feelings towards these vile criminals – criminals who thought it was not only acceptable behaviour to put innocent young girls through “sessions”, where they intoxicated them with alcohol, drugged them with “Mkat”, and brutally abused and exploited them – but then had the audacity to think they would get away with it.

Achieving justice was a painful experience and far from easy for these victims and thus the sentences given should be far from easy for these vulgar criminals.

However, I have been deeply disturbed by the coverage of the convictions, and how it has been painted as predominantly an issue of race, and not male-led sexual exploitation of vulnerable women.

To put things in context – my mother was abused. She is Pakistani. Her abuser was also Pakistani.

So seeing a headline which says “British Pakistanis ARE raping white girls...and we must face up to it” is beyond personal to me.

Such an incendiary headline and article is not only irresponsible but also sets a very dangerous precedent and must be challenged.

Let me explain why. Where another community is over-represented within a model of criminality, like for example, in cases of wider child abuse, where nearly 90 per cent of the perpetrators are white men we wouldn’t suggest that white people “are raping children” or use the whole community to describe the actions of a few criminals. That would not only be horrific but ridiculous.

I also have two sons. Blanket racially loaded statements like these set them up to fail before they even reach their teenage years.

Anyone who knows me knows that I am the first to challenge wrong wherever it happens. This includes within my own Pakistani community. I continue to challenge the patriarchal system and misogyny in the face of death threats – and I am not about to stop, that I can assure you.

But what I won’t accept, or tolerate, is a narrative that demonises every Pakistani man as a rapist. I won’t.

Let’s be clear about “Pakistani” men – are we including the The Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Sajid Javid, in this sweeping statement? Because he’s Pakistani. Or how about Sadiq Khan, the Mayor of London? The list goes on.

There is no community where men don’t rape girls and we must face up to it.

Yes, Pakistani men are disproportionately involved in grooming gangs and this particular model of abuse. And no that is not a racist statement.

Neither is it racist to say that when it comes to wider child abuse nearly 90 per cent of those convicted and on the sex offenders register are white men. However, focussing entirely on one community ignores the fact that vulnerable young girls of all ethnicities are targeted by men.

Following an enquiry into this issue in 2012, the Government’s Home Affairs Select Committee called upon MPs to commission some research into this area of criminality. One expert witness was Nazir Afzal, the Chief Crown Prosecutor who’s correct approach, in recognising victims for the victims they were, led to the first ever convictions in Rochdale. Oh, and just for the record, he also happens to be a Pakistani man. Nazir explained, and rightfully so, that to address a problem we first need to understand it, which is why it is important to renew that call for some research.

It is also worth noting that Nazir’s approach also challenges this concept of “political correctness” – the key to his success was a change in the way victims were believed, which led to a whole cultural shift amongst statutory bodies, including the removal of the term “child prostitutes” from government literature in 2015.

For further clarity – only last year we were shocked and horrified about the abuse scandal in football, perpetrated by and large by white men – but we don’t say all coaches are abusers.

The government is currently looking into allegations of abuse by politicians – once again, by and large white men – but we don't say all white male politicians are abusers, just like we don't say that all white men in the entertainment industry are paedophiles either, despite the horrors of Jimmy Saville.

As I have alluded to previously, it is crucial to recognise that in many child sexual exploitation cases, victims are also of different cultural and ethnic backgrounds, including Pakistani victims. If anything, some women’s groups have indeed put forward the case that in fact Pakistani girls are preferred targets as they are less likely to come forward and seek help due to the concepts of honour and shame.

The evil of abuse is indiscriminate in its application.

One of the facts that all victims have in common is that they are targeted because of their vulnerability. The other commonalities are that the perpetrators are linked to other criminality, such as drugs, as well as the night time economy – be it takeaways, taxis or other forms of business.

We can’t stigmatise whole communities because of the evil few that we have within them. But at the same time, whenever abuse occurs regardless of who, what or where, we must ensure there is no hiding place for this evil.

And finally, just like nearly 90 per cent of child abusers who are white men do not typify all British white men, these Pakistani criminals do not typify all British Pakistanis. As we plunge further into this debate, let’s not drown out the most important voices which are those of the victims of this brutal evil.

Naz Shah is the Member of Parliament for Bradford West.

By: MP Naz Shah

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Primary school brings the whole community together for a multicultural celebration of summer

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Crowds turned out in their hundreds this weekend at Cheetham CE Community Academy’s Summer Fayre.

Joined by the Lord Mayor and Counsellor Eddy Newman local residents enjoyed a fantastic array of performances from groups including the Sikh Temple Bangra dancers, Irish Musicians, New Testament Church of God Youth Dancers, Sikh Hymn singers and Bollywood Dancers.

Cheetham Hill poet Safraz Malik also came along to perform his poems for the crowd.

The amazing variety of entertainment created a wonderful, multicultural celebration for the community in Cheetham Hill.

Children also enjoyed some traditional summer fayre antics such as “Splat the Teacher” and “Bat the Rat”. Free face painting was offered for the children, and generous former pupils came along to show their appreciation for their former school by offering free henna painting for all.

Head Teacher, Karen Carter said “This community never cease to amaze us, it’s been a great fun day and lovely to see everyone coming together, having fun and celebrating the talents, skills, languages and tastes that make our community very special”.

“We all came in the rain to show our love for this school.” Said one impressed parent. The day was such a success that the school has vowed to make the summer fayre an annual community event.

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Iman FM suspended over ‘terror talks’

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RADICAL: Iman FM told Ofcom they were not aware of Anwar al-Awlaki extremist background

RADICAL: Iman FM told Ofcom they were not aware of Anwar al-Awlaki extremist background

Community radio station taken off air by Ofcom for broadcasting over 25 hours of lectures by an alleged al-Qaeda leader

A Sheffield-based radio station, Iman FM, had its licence suspended by Ofcom for playing the lectures by radical American Muslim cleric Anwar al-Awlaki.

The regulator said parts of the material were "likely to incite or encourage the commission of crime or to lead to disorder."

Iman FM told Ofcom it was not aware of Awlaki's background.

The station said it had listened to 12 hours of the audio, which it "judged to be within the parameters of the Broadcasting Code", but only samples of the remainder were checked.

The licensee said it had not listened to all of the lectures because of time constraints, it being a small radio station and the broadcasts happening during Ramadan.

Given the nature and seriousness of the breach, Ofcom has today Ofcom therefore exercised its powers under section 111B of the Broadcasting Act 1990 to suspend Iman FM's licence.

In 2011 the United Nations Security Council described Awlaki as a "leader, recruiter and trainer for al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula."

His sermons are thought to have inspired terrorist attacks including the attack on the Charlie Hebdo offices in Paris in 2015 in which 12 people died and the 2009 Fort Hood shootings, in which 13 US soldiers were killed.

Awlaki was killed in a US drone strike in 2011.

Iman FM released a statement saying it had temporarily stopped broadcasting as a result of the regulator suspending its licence for the next 21-days on the basis that they unwittingly broadcast some controversial lectures.

Adding they are "trying their level best to remedy this situation and look forward to broadcasting as soon as possible."

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Fun in the sun: Eco-friendly community kitchen and garden project plays host to International Children’s Day

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Treasure hunts, henna, fruit kebabs, giant skittles, drumming, puppet shows, arts and crafts, footy penalty shootouts and planting drew in the crowds at the Outback Community Garden in Halifax.

Around 600 people attended an event run by the Halifax Opportunities Trust to celebrate International Children’s Day on 1st June, where families enjoyed a host of activities.

Halifax Opportunities Trust is a charity that works to reduce the impact of poverty on Calderdale families by promoting opportunities, employment and wellbeing.  

A registered charity, it helps people to find new or better jobs, to learn new skills and to start or grow businesses, as well as offering support to those raising young families.

This event is just one example of the work they do – it brought together all the different communities in a deprived area of Calderdale to celebrate children across the globe- as well as giving families the chance to relax and get to know each other while having fun.

The Outback Community Garden is an eco-friendly community kitchen and garden project which runs on organic and sustainable principles. Halifax Opportunities Trust developed 0.4 hectares of unused and overgrown urban green space at the rear of Jubilee Children's Centre to create the community garden, which combines an edible landscape with areas of natural play, and has an environmentally-friendly strawbale building as its focal point.

It is packed full of edible produce including herbs, fruits and vegetables. It offers lots of interesting areas for local people to explore and learn about the natural environment.

The Outback provides an oasis in an urban setting and is looked after by local volunteers with a few hours to spare for a spot of gardening or odd jobs.  People can also hire The Outback for meetings, events, training courses and parties.

Alison Haskins, CEO of the Halifax Opportunities Trust said: "International Children's Day is a celebration of children across the world and we like to mark that at Halifax Opportunities Trust.

“We had over 600 people attend our event reflecting the diversity of the local community. What a fantastic way to celebrate children, in the sun and having fun”.

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Solidarity: Community champion rallies over 200 people in Bradford graveyard clean up

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EXEMPLARY: Adil Shaan (left) urges young people to join in positive voluntary actions, pictured here with his colleague Isran Akhtar and in the background Suria Nawaz and her children Muhammad, Ahmad and Aminah

EXEMPLARY: Adil Shaan (left) urges young people to join in positive voluntary actions, pictured here with his colleague Isran Akhtar and in the background Suria Nawaz and her children Muhammad, Ahmad and Aminah

 

“Kullu Nafsin Zaiqatul Maut” (every soul shall taste death)”

In an amazing show of solidarity, over 200 people gave up their Sunday to join forces in a major clean up of one of Bradford’s largest graveyards.

Eager men, women and children equipped with their wellies, gloves, spades and bags descended upon Scholemoor Cemetery in Great Horton, one of 24 cemeteries in the Bradford Metropolitan District.

This was the graveyard’s second major clean-up and took over six hours to rid it from fly tipping mess that had been dumped there. The initiative was organised by voluntary group ‘Friends of the Deceased’ (FOTD).

27-year-old banking complaints manager Adil Shaan, founder of FOTD group, says that he was inspired to keep the graveyard clean and litter-free as his own grandparents are buried at Scholemoor.

Headed up by Adil, volunteers, many of whom don’t even have family members buried there, flocked the site to lend a helping hand. They ended up filling an entire skip and over 50 large bags of refuse.

“My social media post went viral last year after I called out for people to come and assist with tidying up the cemetery for the first time,” explains Heaton-man Adil.

“It’s been such an eye-opener.

There are so many good-hearted people around who are willing to give up some hours for selfless labour, all you have to do is ask.”

As well as rallying up support through Facebook again this year, which was shared widely by friends and family, Adil and his friends had posters and flyers made which were put up in businesses and community centres across Bradford.

The group saw many local businesses generously donating gardening tools, gloves, bags and refreshments for those toiling away on the day.

Adil reminisces that last year when the first ever clean up started, the late much-loved 33-year charity worker and humanitarian Syed Sharaz Ali Shah - fondly known as Shah Gee took part.

Shah Gee suffered from breathing problems and died during a major operation on his heart at Leeds General Infirmary in September last year.

“Now Shah Gee is buried on the same site he was cleaning,” says Adil sadly. It’s heart-breaking when you look back and remember.

“Friends Of Shah Gee all attended this years clean up too.”

Adil says that he hopes to inspire young people. “’Be part of something different that has never been done before.

“’Kullu Nafsin Zaiqatul Maut’ (every soul shall taste death).

“A lot of us will only be able to donate a relatively small amount of time at each clean up, but it is important to see the bigger picture you are contributing to.

“Powerful work is made up of thousands of actions from a number of people who come together.

“I would ask young people to volunteer their free time and give time to any projects that helps the local community.

“Myself starting from young age of volunteering,  it is very rewarding, you feel good about yourself and most importantly seeing changes that you made in your local community makes you proud.”

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Baking buns, brownies, biscuits and other yummies to raise £500 for terminally-ill children

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KIND-HEARTED: 10-year-old Shyla Hanif has been touched by the work that local charities do and wants to help them

KIND-HEARTED: 10-year-old Shyla Hanif has been touched by the work that local charities do and wants to help them

Sweet sprinkles of hope

“It must be so hard for mums and dads and brothers and sisters to deal with a member of their family being so sick or even dying.”

A ten-year-old from Leeds has been setting a fine example by fundraising for children who need urgent heart surgery but also for those who are extremely sick and need the care of a hospice in their final days.

Shyla Hanif, a Year 6 student at the Grammar School at Leeds, bravely stuck up her hand at the Give a Gift charity dinner that she attended with her family. She pledged to raise £500 for Leeds Children’s Heart Unit and Martin House Hospice during the evening, much to her parent's pleasant surprise.

Working with the school, which encourages its children to raise money for a number of causes, Shyla roped in her ever-helpful friends at GSAL. They baked buns, brownies, biscuits, cakes and other confectionaries to sell in the playground, along with badges and wristbands in support of the two charities.

But this isn’t the first time the kind-hearted kiddo has wanted to make a difference. Shyla first donated her Eid money when she was just seven-years-old and has continued to contribute to Give a Gift in Leeds every year.

EAGER: Shyla's classmates Adam, Anya and Mimi have been rallying support all around school

EAGER: Shyla's classmates Adam, Anya and Mimi have been rallying support all around school

“I was sitting next to my mum at the charity dinner, just before the new year and she was having a conversation with a mum and dad who’s baby had died because of a heart condition," says Shyla.

“I sat there thinking how lucky we are; I don’t know anyone who’s lost a baby due to an illness. I can't imagine how sad and difficult it must be for mums and dads and brothers and sisters to deal with a member of their family being so sick or even dying.

"If I can raise £500 or more, I think it will help these charities a lot.”

“I’ve learnt at the charity dinners how very, very important the Leeds Children’s Heart Unit are in doing life-saving operations. We get to hear about the different stories, and struggles families have had.

“And I know that Martin House Children’s Hospice care for very, very sick children, but they also look after their families too – which is amazing."

"I just hope I can meet my target - I'll be so happy."

Leeds-based Give a Gift, launched it’s initiative to fundraise for local causes in 2013 and have raised over £100,000 for the Leeds Children’s Heart Unit and Martin House Children’s Hospice.

To help Shyla achieve her fundraising target, please make a donation: http://gldn.gg/f/ShylaHanif


Sharon Coyle

CEO Children’s Heart Surgery Fund

“There is nothing more inspiring than a child wanting to help other children. Shyla should be very proud of her achievement. Raising such a substantial amount of money, at a one-off event at such a young age, should not go unnoticed. Well done, and a further thank you must go to all her wonderful supporters!”


Bhranti Naik

Community Fundraiser Martin House Hospice

“We are overjoyed to have the support of Shyla to help with our fundraising efforts. As you are aware, the majority of our funds come from the generosity of Yorkshire people. There is something particularly special about children fundraising for children. We hope that in our special 30th Anniversary Year, more youngsters are inspired by Shyla's efforts and step out of their comfort zone to help fundraise for our children and young people.”


Rifhat Malik

Give a Gift

“Give a Gift is delighted to support Shyla Hanif, a Year 6 pupil at the Grammar School in Leeds, with her fundraising efforts. It is admirable to see someone so young have this level of consideration for others less fortunate than us. It's highly commendable that she’s selling cakes/buns at her school for Martin House Children's Hospice and the Leeds Children's Heart Surgery Fund to help raise vital funds for children with life-threatening conditions. We have no doubt that Shyla's efforts will act as an inspiration to other young people of her age and she is a credit to her family.”


 

Robert Lilley

Head of Junior School

The Grammar School at Leeds

"We were delighted that Shlya showed the initiative to undertake this project. She has organised everything and led a team of other Y6 pupils. The younger children have supported the event very well and we are grateful to the whole school community for supporting these worthwhile causes."

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Welcome to Twenty Sevenclean: Seasonal spritz brings out the best of the community

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BRIGHTENING THE STREETS: The Hi-Vis army were seen across Huddersfield, Sheffield, Rotherham and Doncaster

BRIGHTENING THE STREETS: The Hi-Vis army were seen across Huddersfield, Sheffield, Rotherham and Doncaster

It may have been a wet and windy start to the New Year yet that did not deter a host of young volunteers hitting the streets on 1st January for a huge community clean-up.

Youth from the Ahmadiyya Muslim Youth Association (AMYA) pounded the pavements across Yorkshire as part of the ‘Big Street Clean’ project.

Armed with brooms, bin bags and litter pickers, the group spent hours collecting litter and removing debris from areas in Huddersfield, Sheffield, Rotherham and Doncaster.

CLEAN TEAM: The Big Street Clean project was organised and carried out by volunteers

CLEAN TEAM: The Big Street Clean project was organised and carried out by volunteers

Nadeem Ahmad, AMYA Regional Youth Leader for Yorkshire was amongst those busy at work in Sheffield and praised all the volunteers who gave up their own time to take part in the initiative.

He said: “Our members have enjoyed living across Yorkshire for decades, so any opportunity to help our local community is much welcome.

“Cleaning the streets of Sheffield also presents us with an opportunity to become better Muslims as cleanliness is an integral part of our faith.”

Prior to brightening up the streets and green spaces, the group carried out their communal prayers for a prosperous 2017.

Nadeem added that helping the community is an integral part of their faith.

“We are peace loving British Muslims and will continue to do all we can to serve our local community as best we can and wherever there is a need,” he said.

It is not the first time that the local group have organised such an initiative with clean-up operations taking place across the country in recent times.

The campaign is one of many charitable and community initiatives carried out by the AMYA across the winter break.

The group also organised blood donation sessions, charity collections, Children's hospital and Nursing home visits, and homeless feeding sessions.

TEAM EFFORT: Litter pickers from the Ahmadiyya Muslim Youth Association were out in force on New Years Day

TEAM EFFORT: Litter pickers from the Ahmadiyya Muslim Youth Association were out in force on New Years Day

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

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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.”

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Parcels of plenty: Sikh community raise over £300 for Bradford’s foodbanks

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FANTASTIC RESULT: Both young and old collected parcels which will help families living on the poverty line

FANTASTIC RESULT: Both young and old collected parcels which will help families living on the poverty line

Sikh communities in Bradford have been filling local food banks to bursting point this week, after they collected over 48 food parcels for one of the city’s longest running collections.

As foodbank usage continues to rise to an all time high across the UK, the need to stock-up these ‘lifesaving projects’ grows in importance every year.

THANKFUL: Frances Atkins (centre) was extremely grateful for the foodbank drive

THANKFUL: Frances Atkins (centre) was extremely grateful for the foodbank drive

In Bradford, the Metropolitan Foodbank, located at St Mary’s Church on East Parade, has seen its service users grow to ten-times the amount today compared to the figure from just a decade ago.

After a plea for help over the winter months, one Bradford woman, Daljit Kaur, took it upon herself to organise a food collection drive on behalf of the Sikh community, with the help of local temples.

Food donation collection points were found at both the Singh Sabha Gurdwara and Guru Nanak Gurdwara temples in Bradford throughout the past week as goods were piled high in the places of worship.

Eventually donating just short of 50 food parcels and hundreds of pounds, Daljit said this year’s appeal was one of the most successful yet.

“We encouraged people to donate on a weekly basis. We wanted to do a food drive where people brought in food and it was quite a success,” she said.

“The entire food donation was from the whole of the Bradford Sikh community but those temples were the drop off points.”

She continued: “We also managed to collect over £300 in donations and the overall response was overwhelming.

COMMUNITY EFFORT: Sikhs collected 48 food parcels for the needy in Bradford

COMMUNITY EFFORT: Sikhs collected 48 food parcels for the needy in Bradford

“At this time of the year, it’s when people need support the most because it’s so cold out there. The team at the foodbank were very grateful. The children were also fantastic and they did so well. It was a real community effort.”

It is not the first time members of the Sikh community have come together to support the local foodbank.

Just last month, worshippers at both gurdwaras celebrated Guru Nanak's Gurpurab’s birthday by donating a large bounty of goods to the collection team.

Frances Atkins, from the foodbank, thanked the community for their continued support.

“Thank you so much to everyone who helped out this year,” she said. “What a terrific collection of food and money.

“Everyone was so kind and welcoming and this donation will help so many people.”

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Supporting the community: Officer becomes a double winner

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TWICE COMMENDED: Ahmed Farooqi has been recognised for his work around community cohesion in Manchester

TWICE COMMENDED: Ahmed Farooqi has been recognised for his work around community cohesion in Manchester

A Police Community Support Officer from Greater Manchester Police has twice been commended by the Chief Constable in the last two weeks, all because of his work around community cohesion.

Ahmed Farooqi, who works as a PCSO in Didsbury, was first recognised at the Forces internal STARS awards last month, winning the prestigious Karin Mulligan award for Diversity in Action. He then received a Chief’s Commendation at a ceremony a few days later.

45-year-old Ahmed, originally from India, received both awards for his work while assisting St Edmunds Church food bank in Whalley Range, establishing a multi faith council and giving presentations to the senior Indian community about hate crime.

During the Paris attacks of November 2015, Ahmed brought the Multi-Faith council together - which consists of all Imams, Priests and Temple leaders from Hindu and Sikh Communities  -for an event in solidarity.

Mr Farooqi represented the South Manchester Area in the ‘We Stand Together’ campaign, which was run by Greater Manchester police and crime commissioner Tony Lloyd and Chief Inspector Umer Khan.

PCSO Farooqi said: “I am proud to serve as a PCSO to a multicultural, diverse community which is made up of both beautiful old Victorian churches to still very active Mosques.

“Receiving the award felt like all the work I did with the community had been recognised - I didn’t feel that I got the award personally, I feel that I am the recipient of the award on behalf of the whole Whalley Range community.”

GMP’s Chief Constable gives out commendations throughout the year, recognising members of the public and officers for an impressive contribution to their community.

Chief Constable Ian Hopkins, who presented Ahmed with the commendation, said: “Effective policing is only achieved through community cohesion, something that Ahmed works extremely hard to achieve.

“Greater Manchester has wonderfully diverse communities and its people like PCSO Farooqi who show just what can be achieved when we all come together. It’s right that we recognise his work both internally and alongside members of the public – thank you for your service Ahmed.”

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Reaching fever pitch: LS6 residents in battle with developers over treasured community playing field

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HYDE PARK PROTEST: Kids with banners want to save their playing field on Victoria Road

HYDE PARK PROTEST: Kids with banners want to save their playing field on Victoria Road

Hyde Park and Headingley’s local residents have recently begun a bid to buy a playing field on Victoria Road, which has been in use since 1906.

The aim is to make it a community sports facility. The public are asking for pledges to try to buy the site with a vision of a future sports field and indoor facility, which can be used by local schools, groups, individuals and sports teams.

The site has been the subject of a public inquiry, where developers Yorvale are wishing to build a private gated complex for 262 students, with a small area which will be publicly accessible - a plan that was originally turned down by a Leeds’ plans panel in December 2015.

In a review held between Tuesday 11th and Tuesday 25th October, a planning inspector will decide if this can go ahead.

John Davison, a local sports coach who is one of the lead campaigners against the proposed development, said: “The developers more or less threatened to sue the council if they didn’t make a decision. The council passed permission for social housing.

“There was a gap of 8 months, and a proposal came back saying they wanted to build a student village, which wasn’t what was agreed. That was turned down. Now there’s been a two week public inquiry and the planning inspector is going to decide if it’s going to be a student village. In the meantime, we’ve launched an online petition saying we’re not happy with that.”

The new website has been launched to ask people to pledge money to jointly purchase the site.

So far, over £5,000 has been pledged. Organisers are hoping that this is just the start and will be approaching more groups, businesses and other people to add to the growing fund to secure this facility for people of all ages and for future generations.

The area has long been deficient in public sports facilities, with a corresponding lack of sports teams.

Two of the five local primary schools have no grass facilities. All the schools in the area are inventive with their existing space getting the best use of it for their pupils, and would dearly welcome a community facility to give more opportunities for sport.

The website has received a growing number of pledges and people are posting ideas about what facilities they would like.

Cllr John Illingworth, of Leeds City Council, said: “Intensive public use of the Victoria Road sports facilities would allow at least 1000 local people to achieve five additional Quality Adjusted Life Years.”

Ritamisra100 said on social media: "I have a young son. I simply cannot imagine him growing up with so little outdoor space. Thankfully that is not an issue where I live but it is for many little boys like him in Hyde Park.”

Penny Goodman, local resident has pledged £100 towards this cause. She said: “The Headingley and Hyde Park areas are already extremely densely populated.

“The area is badly deficient in public green space, and because many of the houses locally are back-to-backs they do not have their own garden space either.

“A community-owned playing field and  sports facility would do a huge amount to help compensate for those problems, making everyone here healthier and happier.”

Harriet Vaight, a local resident said: “We live locally and are expecting our first baby soon. We would absolutely love this to be sports facilities for our child(ren) to use in the future. It's really important to maintain green space in neighbourhoods for local community use. There is plenty of student accommodation already available in this area, new flats for students aren't a necessity.”

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Making Beeston better

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HAPPY FAMILIES: Sisters Yasmeen, Sophia and Miriam have organised a community family Funday to bring out the best in Beeston

HAPPY FAMILIES: Sisters Yasmeen, Sophia and Miriam have organised a community family Funday to bring out the best in Beeston

Siblings join forces to bring community together

Three sisters from a Leeds suburb, who say they were ‘tired of seeing negative news stories appear about the place where they live’, have united their local community to organise a family ‘Funday’ this weekend.

The siblings, Yasmeen Akhtar, 33, Sophia Khan, 28, and Miriam Khan, 20, decided it was time to take action in Beeston to show the true side of their neighbourhood.

With the trio all running businesses in the area, they put their creative minds together to come up with the charity event, aiming to raise money for Islamic Relief’s Syria Crisis Appeal.

Yasmeen explained: “What we want to do is bring all the communities together to show that Beeston isn’t just about stabbings and horrible incidents that you hear about in the press.

“It is a place where we can come together for a good cause. The response has been amazing so far.”

Before the event even takes place, the ladies have already raised in excess of £1,200 from sponsors, with every penny going to charity.

Funds raised on the day will take this total even higher, and Sophia says it goes to show how ‘united’ the community can be when the time comes.

“The first business we visited said they’d sponsor us straight away,” she said. “It was just a small store but the owner was so excited with the idea that he pledged to get sponsor and get a bouncy castle for us.

“He was the one who said, ‘these girls are onto something’ and from there it has just snowballed into a really big thing.

“We’ve created such a buzz and interest now that we can easily fill the Old Cockburn’s Sports Hall.”

The Funday will be the first official event to be held at the venue since its ownership was overtaken by the Hamara Living Centre.

As well as stalls packed with goods for all ages, entertainment will be on offer for children, including a singing competition for kids from across Leeds.

Nasheed artist, Ahmed Hussain, will also be hosting a live performance on the day.

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‘Hate incident’ at Bradford Gurdwara: Lessons have been learned after throwing of Guru Granth Sahib Ji

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RESPECT: President of the Guru Gobind Singh Gurdwara, Ranbir Singh Rai, says police have learned some important lessons about the Sikh faith and thanked them for their support

RESPECT: President of the Guru Gobind Singh Gurdwara, Ranbir Singh Rai, says police have learned some important lessons about the Sikh faith and thanked them for their support

Senior police officers from Bradford attended a meeting in the city last week to speak with the Sikh community about a hate incident involving their holy text, Guru Granth Sahib Ji.

The incident occurred on Friday night when a unnamed person, dressed in ‘a hoodie’, reportedly threw the Guru Granth Sahib Ji over the closed fence at the Gurdwara.

Chief Superintendent Simon Atkin and Detective Chief Inspector Gary Hooks from Bradford District Police informed the meeting at the Guru Gobind Singh Gurdwara that the person responsible for the incident, which occurred on Friday 12th August, had been identified.

Enquiries are now continuing into the matter which is being treated as a hate incident.

President of the Gurdwara, Ranbir Singh Rai, speaking after the public meeting on Friday 19th August, said it had been a learning curve for all involved.

“I’m not saying the police were wrong in their handling, they just didn’t know how we respect the Guru Granth Sahib Ji. They didn’t realise how serious this was.

“I had to explain to them that the Guru Granth Sahib Ji is not our holy book it is our living Guru. We respect it as a living Guru. Then they took it seriously.”

He added: “To be honest, I am quite happy with the police. We have learnt so many things from the force today and we thank them for coming in.”

SCENE: The Guru Granth Sahib Ji was thrown over the gates of the Guru Gobind Singh Gurdwara in what people are treating as a hate incident

SCENE: The Guru Granth Sahib Ji was thrown over the gates of the Guru Gobind Singh Gurdwara in what people are treating as a hate incident

The Guru Granth Sahib Ji had reportedly come into the possession of the suspect after the passing of her mother and father.

It was only discovered at the temple on Saturday by a member of the Gurdwara after he noticed an object on the ground.

Police were contacted later that day but did not send an officer to the Gurdwara until Monday - something they apologised for during the public meeting attended by around 100 people.

“They didn’t know how much we respect the Guru Granth Sahib Ji,” Mr Rai added.

“I received phone calls from across the world – America, India, Italy – because they had all heard what happened to the Guru Granth Sahib Ji.

“The whole of the Sikh community is very upset but there are no politics behind this.

“Somebody had the Guru Granth Sahib Ji in their house. Their father and mother died and she didn’t know what to do with the Guru Granth Sahib Ji.

“That’s why she thought ‘I can leave it in the Gurdwara’. She made the wrong decision, she threw it over the gate.

“She told the police that she couldn’t get inside to pick it up as the gates were locked but she shouldn’t have done what she did.”

Mr Rai says he will now speak with the Gurdwara committee and The Board of Bradford Gurdwaras to see what the next step should be.

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Foodie temple: A huge community success for Bolton food festival

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BUSY DAY: Hundreds of people turned out throughout the day to sample some international flavours

BUSY DAY: Hundreds of people turned out throughout the day to sample some international flavours

Bolton’s diverse communities gathered in their hundreds last weekend as the local Vishwa Hindu Parishad Temple held their inaugural food festival.

Bringing delicacies of the world to the centre of the town, the event was warmly received by all who ventured down, including the Mayor of Bolton Cllr Lynda Byrne, who cut the ribbon to kick off the festivities.

OPEN FOR FOODIES: Mayor of Bolton Cllr Lynda Byrne officially opened the food festival with a ribbon cutting

OPEN FOR FOODIES: Mayor of Bolton Cllr Lynda Byrne officially opened the food festival with a ribbon cutting

Alongside the selection of spicy treats, crowds were entertained by dance acts, activities and even a human fruit machine.

Project co-ordinator, Ila Kothari, organised the festival with volunteer Kala Kerai, and their team of willing helpers.

Labelling the day a ‘great success’ she added: “To see over 300 people turnout on the day was a fantastic achievement and the feedback we received was really good.

“The community really got behind the event with people of all backgrounds coming down to try out the range of foods on offer and join in the fun.”

The community centre behind the project caters for mostly over-50s with funds raised from the day going to Bolton Hindus’ Age Inspiration.

The site provides a space for Bolton’s older Hindu community to socialise with events also held throughout the month.

Ila said: “This place is very important to so many people as it gives members a chance to get out of the house and meet with friends.

“The money raised from the food festival will go towards ensuring we can continue to provide the services we do.”

She added: “A big thank you goes out to all the volunteers who made the festival possible and to those who came down on the day.”

ENTERTAINMENT: Dancers performed for the crowds

ENTERTAINMENT: Dancers performed for the crowds

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Former criminal becomes crime prevention campaigner

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CHANGING LIVES: Naz has spoke with over 15,000 children about the dangers of pursuing a criminal lifestyle

CHANGING LIVES: Naz has spoke with over 15,000 children about the dangers of pursuing a criminal lifestyle

A former criminal from Bradford, who was previously handed a nine year prison sentence for a drug related offence, has since helped over 15,000 children deter from a life of crime.

Arfan Naseer, known as Naz, is not your ordinary ex-convict.

He is the founder of Bradford-based Con-sequence – an organisation set up to highlight the true impact of a criminal lifestyle with help and accounts from ex-offenders.

After falling into the wrong crowd in his teenage years, Naz paid the price for delving into the illegal practice of drug dealing and was soon arrested for his role.

During his time behind bars, he suffered from low self-esteem yet one meeting with a representative from the national charity – The Prince’s Trust – soon turned his life around.

“I was lucky because I was given a second chance,” he said. “I had someone who believed in me with the Prince’s Trust and it allowed me to flourish and become what I am now.”

WORKING IN BRADFORD: Con-Sequence is currently working alongside Bradford’s Centre of Excellence

WORKING IN BRADFORD: Con-Sequence is currently working alongside Bradford’s Centre of Excellence

Working alongside the charity – which aims to help unemployed or struggling young people to transform their lives – Naz was able to share his story with children across the North of England.

He became the country’s first serving prisoner to work alongside the Trust, as he began to undertake the huge task of turning around the lives of youngsters who may have ended up in a life of crime.

“At that time, there were no visuals, no props, it was just me talking to the kids,” he said.

“I learnt so much from that time that when I was released, I continued working with the Trust for a couple of years.”

A short time later Naz set up his own enterprise, Con-sequence, to continue and build on the work he had started during his incarceration.

Since then, Con-Sequence has worked with children across the north of England, delivering presentations to schools and community groups, and reaching out to over 15,000 young people.

In 2015 the enterprise joined forces with Bradford’s Centre of Excellence.

The centre, which features in-house mock jail cells, a court and living area, was developed as part of the city’s pledge to do more to prevent ‘at risk’ young members of society turning to crime.

Based at Girlington Community Centre, the facilities are located in the city which Naz grew up and was arrested in.

“At the moment we are delivering all the sessions on prison and crime at the centre,” he explained.

“So far, around 1,600 kids have attended classes as we reiterate the point that any criminal lifestyle is only ever short-lived.”

He added: “There are two things I guarantee to anybody considering a life in crime.

“First of all, I tell them they will end up in prison. That is a guarantee. Secondly, it could cause your death.”

The second point is doubly true for Naz who saw one of his co-workers gunned down earlier this year for turning his back on his former criminal life style.

“He was one of our former outreach workers,” Naz said. “He approached the group two years ago and said he didn’t want paying for the work, he just wanted to help the community

“Con-sequence was working with him, I focussed on the drugs side, and he would focus more on the violence crimes.

“Unfortunately, due to his former lifestyle, his so-called former partners beat him up this Ramadan and gunned him down outside his home in West Bowling. He was shot in the head.

“That person has left behind a family and a wife.”

The man’s father is now working with Con-Sequence to highlight the impact a criminal lifestyle can have on the entire family.

“We aren’t talking about movie plots to these kids,” he added. “These are the faces they see every day in Bradford who are being killed because of crime.”

With over 10 years of work on the project, Naz now has ambitions to roll out the project nationwide.

He hopes to meet with government officials and MPs to discuss plans of expansion.

“I want the chance to make this into a hardcore subject for schools,” he said. “Young people are aspiring to be role models in the wrong crowd - I know that because I did too.

“Now I want to do something to change these perceptions and make Bradford, and the UK, a better place to grow up in.”

 

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The fantastic four! Youngsters scoop prestigious Diana Awards

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WINNERS: Shamim, Nicole, Minhaz and Sam received the Diana Award for their time, commitment and continued hard work during their time as Members of Youth Parliament for Leeds

WINNERS: Shamim, Nicole, Minhaz and Sam received the Diana Award for their time, commitment and continued hard work during their time as Members of Youth Parliament for Leeds

The Leeds Members of Youth Parliament 2014-16 have been honoured with a special award to recognise their contribution to the Leeds youth community.

Shamim, Nicole, Minhaz and Sam received the Diana Award for their time, commitment and continued hard work during their time as Members of Youth Parliament for Leeds.

The four individuals represented young people from Leeds on a local, regional and national level and used their energy and passion to support Leeds to be a Child Friendly City.

The young people worked on several campaigns during their term, and spoke passionately at the House of Commons on the different issues that young people voted as most important to them.

Since 1999, over 47,000 young people have been recognised with a Diana Award for making an outstanding difference in their communities’ across the globe and continuing Princess Diana’s legacy.

With the support of HRH Prince William and HRH Prince Harry, The Diana Award aims to inspire and recognise social action in young people by going beyond its Awards programme with youth led initiatives that empower young people to achieve their full potential and make a difference.

Tessy Ojo CEO of the Diana Award said: “The Diana Award is proud to recognise incredible young people, like the Leeds members of the Youth Parliament who have the confidence and courage to stand up for what they believe.

“The Diana Award is presented to inspirational young people who work to improve the lives of others in their schools and communities. With a growing network of over 47,000 Award Holders, we are building a force of young people who are committed to taking action and improving the lives of others.”

Councillor Lisa Mulherin, executive member for children and families said: “We are extremely proud of the Members of Youth Parliament for receiving this wonderful honour. The Diana Award will encourage them to continue their fantastic work and will hopefully inspire others to make a difference in the community.”

Nominations for the Diana Award for the academic year 2016/2017 open in September 2016 and can be made on the Diana Award’s website.

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‘A victory for the people’: Surgery saved to the delight of a united community

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COMMUNITY COMES TOGETHER: Over one hundred people turned out for the previous protest against the closure

COMMUNITY COMES TOGETHER: Over one hundred people turned out for the previous protest against the closure

When the announcement was made that one of Bradford’s longest running medical surgeries was at threat of closure, the local community came together in protest of the news.

This week, after much campaigning and lobbying from MPs, the decision to close Manningham Medical Practice by the by NHS Bradford City Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) has been reversed.

The practice, which is located on Lumb Lane, serves around 3,600 patients living in BD1, BD8 and BD9 areas of Bradford and had been earmarked for closure on 30th September 2016.  

The new decision was made at a joint meeting of Bradford City and Bradford Districts CCGs’ primary care commissioning committees (PCCCs).  

Patients from the practice’s patient participation group also made a strong case to the CCG, saying that patients wanted local, high quality services to improve their health and wellbeing.

Amongst the lead co-ordinators for the practice campaigners was Jitendra Gupta - whose late sister, Urmila Gupta, opened the surgery in the early 1970s.

Speaking about the reversed decision, Mr Gupta said: “It’s great news.

CALL FOR ACTION: Young and old campaigned outside the surgery last month in support of it staying open

CALL FOR ACTION: Young and old campaigned outside the surgery last month in support of it staying open

“People were suffering because they didn’t know what was going to happen with the uncertainty of the surgery. Now people are celebrating the news.

“We will be having some sort of celebration party in the surgery next week to give our thanks to their support.”

Fazlul Haq, chair of the Manningham Housing Association, was also a strong advocate supporting the surgeries campaign to stay open and he described what the place meant to the local community.

“It is a lifeline for Manningham,” he said. “If the surgery closed, the body of Manningham would have remained but the heart would have gone.

“To hear that the decision to close it has been reversed means common sense has prevailed and it is a victory for the people.”

He added: “We have a united community now. We have stood together for this cause and we thank Naz Shah for her support. She is the people’s MP.”

The meeting of the CCGs allowed the groups an opportunity to reflect together on the potential outcomes of their individual strategies for primary care in the Manningham area, as well as the capacity and resourcing of neighbouring practices to register additional patients.

CELEBRATION TIME: Members of the Manningham Medical Practice’s patient participation group celebrate the decision with Bradford West MP Naz Shah, pictured (l-r) Fazlur Rahman Shah, Fazlul Haq, MP Naz Shah, Jitendra Gupta and Shazad Hussain

CELEBRATION TIME: Members of the Manningham Medical Practice’s patient participation group celebrate the decision with Bradford West MP Naz Shah, pictured (l-r) Fazlur Rahman Shah, Fazlul Haq, MP Naz Shah, Jitendra Gupta and Shazad Hussain

It was here that parties agreed that Bradford City CCG’s previous decision should be reversed to allow the re-procurement of primary care services in the Manningham area to commence.  

In the meantime, the existing contract with Local Care Direct will be extended until 30th April 2017.

Max Mclean, the CCG’s lay member for patient and public involvement, said:  “I am pleased that we have had the opportunity to bring our two local CCGs together to re-consider local people’s needs in the context of the wider Manningham area.

“Our decision to re-procure primary care in the Manningham area provides the opportunity to sense-check the services we buy; to ensure that they are high quality, clinically effective and capable of engaging successfully with their patients.”

Naz Shah, the Member of Parliament for Bradford West, was represented at the meeting.  

Speaking about the decision, she said: “I am delighted that thePrimary Care Commissioning Committee has taken the bold decision to overturn a decision it had already taken.

“I welcome and applaud the decision to re-procure primary care services in the Manningham area and look forward to continue engagement with strategic partners to ensure that Bradford West constituency receives the best possible and appropriate services to meet the needs of a diverse and growing population.”

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Eid Gala builds bridges in Leeds

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POPULAR: The event was well-attended by members of the Leeds Muslim community as well as those of different and no faiths

POPULAR: The event was well-attended by members of the Leeds Muslim community as well as those of different and no faiths

Finishing off Ramadan in style with community fundraiser

A number of Leeds mosques came together last weekend to organise one of the city’s largest ever Eid gala fundraisers coinciding with the festive occasion of Eid-ul-fitr.

Eid marks the occasion when Muslims around the world unite to celebrate the month of Ramadan coming to an end.

It is a time when Muslims dig deep into their pockets in aid of charity, with followers of the Islamic faith in the UK raising millions of pounds in just four weeks for causes all around the world.

The gala event took place on Thomas Danby College’s sports grounds, in Roundhay, with the aim of building bridges within the community and beginning a trend of partnership in projects. 

Amongst those involved with the organisation of the event were members from the Leeds Grand Mosque and the Lincoln Green Mosque.

It was set up to raise money for a variety of charities - Human Relief Foundation, Al-Khair Foundation, UK Islamic Mission and Syrian Association of Yorkshire – in one final charitable push following Ramadan.

INFLATABLE FUNTIMES: The kids enjoyed jumping on the bouncy castles and were full of the joys of Eid

INFLATABLE FUNTIMES: The kids enjoyed jumping on the bouncy castles and were full of the joys of Eid

A wide range of attractions were on offer for all age groups, including inflatables and bouncy castles, food and drink, a wide array of retail stalls and football programmes for children and adults.

A spokesperson said: “In addition to providing an atmosphere of fun and happiness on Eid, this was a celebration with a focus on building bridges, and a further aim of serving a wider altruistic cause through raising funds for various charitable organisations.” 

The event was a huge success, with hundreds of attendees turning out on the day, including Cllr Asghar Khan and Cllr Mohammed Rafique.

In total, £3,975.86 was raised from the festivities with funds to be split between the chosen charities.

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Legendary leader recognised

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RECOGNITION: Mohammed Amran BCAc receiving his Medal from Pat Egan, Group Exec Director of Affordable Housing, Places for People

RECOGNITION: Mohammed Amran BCAc receiving his Medal from Pat Egan, Group Exec Director of Affordable Housing, Places for People

Bradford community hero receives medal from the House of Lords

A charitable community leader has been recognised at the House of Lords after dedicating 25 years of his life to supporting the youth of Bradford.

40-year-old Mohammed Amran has been awarded for his commitment to working with local communities and setting up support networks across the city. His hard work and dedication earned him one of the country’s highest accolades – a British Citizen Award (BCA).

Launched in January 2015, the BCA recognises extraordinary achievements by everyday people who have made a positive difference to the lives of others that may otherwise have gone unnoticed.

Mohammed received his BCA Medal from Pat Egan of Places for People, one of the sponsors of the awards, at the Palace of Westminster on 7th July.  

Mohammed Amran said: “It’s such an honor being awarded a BCA for something that I’m so passionate about and has given me so much joy over the years. Helping people in my area and giving back has been a main priority for me because I understand how hard it is growing up in the inner city. I can’t wait to celebrate this award with the other medalists who have done so much for their communities as well.”

Pat Egan, Group Executive Director of Affordable Homes at Places for People, said: “The British Citizen Awards offers us a great opportunity to recognise and celebrate the UK's unsung heroes who are making such a positive contribution. Mohammed's dedication and commitment to charity is inspirational and I was delighted to present him with this award- he's a truly deserving winner.”

Mohammed has been involved in his community ever since he was a young boy. At the age of 22 he was appointed commissioner for The Commission for Racial Equality, making him the youngest person to ever hold the position. Growing up in inner city Bradford, Mohammed was exposed to high levels of unemployment, poverty and crime.

During the Bradford disturbances in 1995 and 2001, where rioting turned into an ethnic-related disturbance, Mohammed was on the front line of the conflict resolution efforts and actively encouraged young people to have open and honest dialogue with the West Yorkshire Police Service.

He set up the Young People’s Forum in a bid to create allow young community members to meet up and discuss any issues in the area and create project ideas for fundraising. The initiative empowered youngsters who had lacked confidence in the authorities and were reluctant to come forward.

Among the many charities that Mohammed supports, he is also one of the founders of the Bradford Youth Development Partnership (BYDP) which serves to keep young people out of trouble and prepare them to become professionals.
Mohammed has fundraised for The Prince’s Trust, Macmillan Cancer Relief, Yorkshire Air Ambulance, to name a few, single-handedly raising more than £500,000 in total.

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A top citizen: Bradford man heads to the capital for awards ceremony

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DESERVED RECIPIENT: Ikram Butt (right) nominated Mohammed for the award

DESERVED RECIPIENT: Ikram Butt (right) nominated Mohammed for the award

A community stalwart from Bradford, who has dedicated over 25 years of his life to helping children in the city, has been awarded a British Citizen Award.

Forty-year-old Mohammed Amran was named as a recipient of the prestigious accolade just over a week ago and headed down to the House of Lords to collect his title on Thursday 7th July.

From being appointed as the country’s youngest commissioner on the Commission for Racial Equality, to establishing the Bradford Youth Development Partnership, his community work has spanned almost three decades.

Speaking of the award, Mohammed said: “When I received the letter I was honoured and really chuffed, not only because it recognises the hard work I have put in, but the people I work with as well.

“This award also recognises the achievements of all those who I have worked alongside or with over the years and would not have been possible without them.”

COMMUNITY ACTIVIST: Mohammed Amran was awarded a British Citizen Award for his work with young people in Bradford

COMMUNITY ACTIVIST: Mohammed Amran was awarded a British Citizen Award for his work with young people in Bradford

Despite a number of accomplishments in his life – which includes raising in excess of £500,000 for charities - Mohammed says ‘getting young people into training and employment’ remains his greatest satisfaction.

“To be able to see someone in professional employment today, who I helped get a job previously, makes me really proud and happy,” he added.

“Since hearing of my award, people who I have not spoken to for years have been in touch, so it has obviously been a very positive response.”

Mohammed was nominated by his long time friend, Ikram Butt, of whom he has worked with on a number of community projects in the past.

Describing Mohammed as a ‘pioneer for youth work’, Ikram explained why he put the nomination forward.

“First and foremost Mohammed really is a truly amazing individual and someone I would describe as a community activist who has gone beyond the call of duty to help people out,” Ikram said.

“The amount of work he has done in helping to bring communities together through a means of understanding and respect is second-to-none.”

There is one memory in particular that sticks out to Ikram, which he says helped shape the man into the ‘activist’ he is today.

“Going right back to the heights of the riots in Bradford, Mohammed brought together communities and despite only being a young adult, he showed maturity beyond his age,” he said.

“He was the go-between with the youth, police, faith and community leaders during the unrest and has continued to show leadership throughout his life.”

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Helping hands: Displaced find a place in Bradford

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City of Sanctuary: People of all faiths gathered together to discuss their personal commitments to communities fleeing from difficulty who require a safe home

City of Sanctuary: People of all faiths gathered together to discuss their personal commitments to communities fleeing from difficulty who require a safe home

Bradford has long held a tradition of welcoming and accepting asylum seekers and refugees into their community to the extent that it has been formally recognised with the title ‘City of Sanctuary’.

Faith communities within the city have been active in different ways to make this happen, but they have not always been cohesive in their approach.

A group was called to action by City of Sanctuary to steer the city in the right direction and examine at these issues.

UK aid charity, Muslim Hands, works with displaced communities both in the UK and 40 countries abroad.

Representatives from organisations such as Council for Mosques, Bradford Hate Crime, BEACON and Bradford Action For Refugees sat in on the group which has been running for about eight months.

The aim was for these organisations to take lead and offer support to organisations of faith but also of no faith and offer them practical support in assisting The Asylum and refugee community coming to Bradford.

Their first steps were to put together a statement which all faith communities would adhere to, as they have a particular religious commitment to communities fleeing from difficulty and requiring sanctuary.

Sofia Buncy, the group’s spokesperson from Muslim Hands said: “We are pleased to be involved and support faith communities and mainstream organisations in assisting the asylum seeker and refugee community seeking sanctuary in Bradford.”

She continued: “Simply on a moral and ethical level we have a strong commitment to this and Bradford has a long standing history of welcoming and accepting new and diverse communities.

“We have started to see a lot of projects being initiated by churches and mosques and we welcome the other faith communities who have joined this initiative.

“Today has been a resounding success and shows the will of the major faith communities in coming together to support such an important cause.”

In attendance were Bishop Toby Howarth, Bradford Mayor and Mayoress, Sofia Buncy of Muslim Hands and Maqsood Ahmed OBE Muslim Hands; Rafiq Seghal and Ishtiaq Ahmed Council for Mosques, Rudi Levor- Jewish Synagogue, Balu Lad- Hindu Rep, Nirmal Singh- West Yorkshire Sikh Forum, Will Sutcliffe- City of Sanctuary and other representatives from City of Santuary, and Bradford Hate Crime- Jed Din. 

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Children in N-Eid: The Give a Gift Ramadan Toy Appeal returns

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TOYS FOR ALL: The Toy Appeal was set up to promote the supporting of local charities for Muslims in Eid

TOYS FOR ALL: The Toy Appeal was set up to promote the supporting of local charities for Muslims in Eid

Over the past three years, a team of Muslim volunteers and their multi-faith partners  have delivered thousands of gifts to some of Leeds' most vulnerable children, sharing their Eid celebrations with families of all faiths.

This year, with Ramadan in full swing, the great Toy Appeal has returned once again with the Give a Gift team hopeful of smashing all records in donations this year.

Growing from 500 toys in 2014, to 700 in 2015 and 900 the next year, those behind the appeal are optimistic of topping the four-figure donations this time around but need your supports.

Rifhat Malik, Give a Gift Ambassador, said: “Every year we deliver hundreds of brand new toys to children in Leeds who have to spend Eid in hospital or care and this year we are extending our reach to some of Leeds’ newest residents.

“We are hopeful of reaching 1,000 toys this year but need the publics’ help once again to reach this figure.

“The support has been amazing in recent times and I know we can do this for the kids.”

In past years the toy distribution has been shared between Martin house Children’s Hospice and the Leeds Children’s Heart Surgery Fund.

TEAM EFFORT: After the toys are donated, they are then distributed to children by the army of Give a Gift Ambassadors

TEAM EFFORT: After the toys are donated, they are then distributed to children by the army of Give a Gift Ambassadors

This Eid, the Give a Gift team have decided to include asylum seeking families on their distribution list as they aim to ensure every child in need receives some sort of gift.

Fellow Give a Gift ambassador, Habib Khan, has been involved with the project since day one.

He said: “The concept is simple - throughout Ramadan we collect toys and gifts and on Eid, our team of Ambassadors will distribute them to the children in the Hospital, Hospice and the children from Asylum seeking families.

“For the toy appeal to have reached the size of which it is today shows the true spirit of Islam and our Eid message.”

The Give a Gift initiative was set up in 2014 as a way of encouraging the local Muslim community to get involved with local causes.

Since its introduction, tens of thousands of pounds have been raised for charity through various fundraisers, whilst £70,000 has already been pledged in 2016.

If you would like to donate a toy to the Big Toy Appeal this year, please email info@giveagift.org.uk or call, 07734 882116.

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The spirit’s still strong over 30 years on

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PRESENTATIONS: Thirty years later, the group are still making an impact on their local community

PRESENTATIONS: Thirty years later, the group are still making an impact on their local community

Bangladeshi Youth Organisation recognised for its work in the community

On Thursday 2nd June, children, young people and local residents showed off their amazing awards at the Bangladeshi Youth Organisation - BYO -presentation event.

The turnout from the community was ‘fantastic’, with approximately 200 children, young people and elders turning out to show their support for the registered charity, which was formed by new arrivals of Bangladeshi people into the UK.

The presentation event was chaired by BYO Board Member Abdul Karim.

Centre Manager and founding member of the group - Faz Haq - highlighted the history of the BYO; how it all started from youths meeting in a cellar of a terraced house back in 1982, to the current premises on the bottom of Cornwall Road.

Mr Haq also underlined the success it has had over the years, with pioneering Manningham Housing Association, Heart Smart Project, Bradford Study Support Network and the contribution the group has made to many other partnership projects that have been delivered for the community.

Cllr Imran Khan, portfolio holder for Education, Employment and Skills, praised the work at BYO, after presenting certificates to local residents and young people for successfully completing level two Food Hygiene, and Health and Safety at work.

Local dignitaries like Cllr Arshad Hussain, Cllr David Green, Nazakat Ali, Bhulla Singh, Heather Wilson, Faz Haq and Akadus Ali also presented certificates at the event.

Former Bradford City player, Wayne Jacobs, presented medals to the excited BYO Junior football team for all the progress they have made over the past year.

Mohammed Joynal, Projects Manager at BYO said: “It is amazing to see such a great turnout from the community, young and old. We serve a real cross section of the community and it’s lovely to see them all here.

“Congratulations to all those who were awarded certificates for their commitment and hard work in the various training courses they have completed. I would also like to thank the volunteers and those who provided resources and funding, particularly Lloyds Bank Foundation and Bradford Council and Council for Mosques, the Khidmat Centre.”

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Police adopt key community hubs this June so locals can engage with officers

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Post Office PC’s

ENGAGING WITH THE PUBLIC: Chief Superintendent Mabs Hussain says that Post Offices are places where the elderly and vulnerable regularly visit

ENGAGING WITH THE PUBLIC: Chief Superintendent Mabs Hussain says that Post Offices are places where the elderly and vulnerable regularly visit

Wakefield Police are to partner with the Post Office this June to give residents a ‘first class’ chance to engage with local officers.

PCSO’s across Wakefield District are to ‘adopt’ a local Post Office as part of a new initiative to give residents more opportunities to see their local officers in familiar settings.

Community support officers will now be available in post offices in communities in Wakefield, Pontefract, Castleford, Airedale, Outwood, Hemsworth and more at peak times to make themselves available to local residents.

The scheme has been a hit in other parts of the country and is now coming to Wakefield as part of officers continued commitment to neighbourhood policing in the district.

It will launch at the main post office on Northgate in Wakefield at 11.30am on Wednesday 8th June.

Chief Superintendent Mabs Hussain, District Commander of Wakefield District Police, said: “As a policing service we are always keen to make the best of any opportunities to improve engagement with residents, and are very pleased to be working with the Post Office on this new initiative.

“Post Offices are key community hubs which residents, particularly the elderly and vulnerable, regularly visit.  

“This makes them ideal places for officers to interact with the public and provides us with additional opportunities to make ourselves more accessible to those who may need our services the most.

He added:  “Our officers will be on hand at the busiest times of day to offer crime prevention and security advice and have a general chat with visitors who want to speak with them.

“Experience suggests this initiative has been very popular elsewhere and we are pleased to bring it to West Yorkshire.”

 Senior Post Office Security Manager Amy Quirk said: “We are always looking to create new partnerships with the police which will benefit not just our two organisations, but the community as a whole.

“The Post Office remains at the heart of communities up and down the country, and we are happy to provide locations in West Yorkshire for the police to utilise in terms of liaising with customers and conveying key security messages.”

West Yorkshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Mark Burns-Williamson said: “This new initiative has my full support. It’s incredibly important that the police are accessible to all the communities of West Yorkshire.

“Post offices are an ideal location for this scheme and it goes to show again how crucial PCSOs are in community policing. I will continue to do my best to protect frontline, visible policing to make sure all our communities are safer and feel safer.”

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Woodland warriors

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GUARDIANS OF THE GREEN: FGVW, along with local residents, have secured the field so that future generations can benefit from the natural landscape

GUARDIANS OF THE GREEN: FGVW, along with local residents, have secured the field so that future generations can benefit from the natural landscape

Gledhow Valley remains a bucolic beauty spot thanks to communities uniting

A woodland field on Gledhow Valley Road -which is home to deer, foxes and a pair of nesting sparrow hawks - has been saved from housing developers thanks to the resolute community spirit of local people and an inspirational environmental group.

Friends of Gledhow Valley Woods (FGVW) launched the bid to buy a field from Gledhow Valley Road in Chapel Allerton, which the private landowner had previously tried to obtain planning permission for to build new homes on.

Donations from the community topped £28,500 but further funding and ‘stressful’ negotiations were needed to secure the field.

FGVW have now successfully bought the one acre site yet must wait to become a charitable incorporated organisation (CIO) before formal ownership is transferred over to them.

A CIO is a new form of legal entity designed for non-profit organisations in the United Kingdom.

The group heard about the news on Friday 20th May after submitting two bids; one from themselves and one as a private individual of the group which ended up being the successful proposal.

Steve Jones-Blackett from FGVW said: “We are absolutely delighted by the outcome and are so grateful to everyone who has helped make this happen.”

The group are ‘not planning to do much with the field’ as its simple green splendour speaks for itself.

Steve added: “Maintaining the boundaries is the first task on our hands, as they’re in a bit of a state.

“The barbed wire will be gone as a matter of urgency. It’s going to get a good clean up.

“Then we’re going to complete an ornithological survey to see what lives there and make it all part of the continuation of the work that we do in the rest of Gledhow Valley.

“We are bowled over knowing that the people in this area really care and are so immensely thankful.”

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West Yorkshire: Hundreds of helpers pitch in for community projects

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HELPING HAND: From planting flowers in schools to transforming a disused lounge into a cafe at a Dementia home, volunteers got stuck in to their work

HELPING HAND: From planting flowers in schools to transforming a disused lounge into a cafe at a Dementia home, volunteers got stuck in to their work

Spark something good in West Yorkshire

Over 573 M&S customers and employees have come together to donate more than 160 hours of their time to Spark Something Good in Leeds and Bradford.

Over the past week, members of the community have rolled up their sleeves and volunteered at a range of local projects to improve community spaces.  

Spark Something Good was launched by M&S last summer in London and will see 24 projects take place across 24 cities in the UK and Ireland over the course of 24 months.

Between 18th and 24th April, the Leeds and Bradford community joined forces with employees from local stores to carry out 24 projects, including a wide range of tasks, such as painting murals, redecorating, gardening, and hosting community markets and celebration lunches.

With more than 447 litres of paint used, 558 bags of rubbish collected and 612 flowers and trees planted, the work has the potential to benefit thousands of people in the local community.

Some of the local organisations in Leeds and Bradford that have benefitted from Spark Something Good include Simon Marks Court Care Home, Seacroft Grange Primary School, InnChurches and Bradford Forster Square.

CHARITY WORK: Volunteers also helped out at InnChurches - an organisation that tackles food poverty through intercepting, storing and redistributing surplus food

CHARITY WORK: Volunteers also helped out at InnChurches - an organisation that tackles food poverty through intercepting, storing and redistributing surplus food

At the latter, the station’s access ramp underwent a dramatic makeover, including the jet washing of the area, the planting of new flower beds and hanging baskets and the installation of urban knitting to brighten up the area.

Volunteers from M&S Bradford Broadway, Bradford City Council and Business in the Community came together to donate a day of hard work to give Bradford the ‘welcoming platform it deserves’.

Mark Robson, Plan A Champion at M&S in Yorkshire, said: “Spark Something Good has been a real success across Leeds and Bradford and it’s been a great experience for all our employees in Yorkshire to spend some time getting to know some of the groups and organisations that provide so much support to locals in our communities.

“Getting stuck in and helping others can make a profound difference to the services so I’d like to thank every single person that has got involved and donated their time to helping out their local community.”

Spark Something Good is part of Plan A, M&S’s ground-breaking eco and ethical programme. It was developed following extensive research and dialogue which revealed that getting involved in community projects enhanced people’s lives.

The initiative is set to run over 24 months, in 24 cities where they will assist with 24 projects throughout the UK and Ireland.  

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Stop the green ribbon getting cut in half!

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FOR SALE: The meadow in question which is home to an abundance of wildlife, such as sparrow hawks, butterflies and deer

FOR SALE: The meadow in question which is home to an abundance of wildlife, such as sparrow hawks, butterflies and deer

Gledhow community fight to prevent housing development

One of England’s greatest poets, William Blake, said: “To the eyes of the man of imagination, nature is imagination itself.”

It doesn’t take a huge amount of mental agility to see that the 1.5km ribbon of woodland that hugs Gledhow Valley Road on either side like a luscious green tunnel is a boon for both the body and mind.

After a housing application for the land on the north Leeds suburban road was recently turned down, an environmental group have fresh fears that permission for another application will eventually be granted at a later date.

The Friends of Gledhow Valley Woods (FGVW) have set up a crowdfunding page to protect the field which they feel could be turned into a housing estate or used for industrial purposes.

And with just days to go before a deadline for submitting a bid, the group are feeling hopeful.

Steve Jones-Blackett, from FGVW, said: “We want to protect it for future generations so that it will remain a wild space for people to enjoy. The whole of Gledhow Valley Road is a green corridor so if we can get our hands on it, we can look after it.”

He continued: “It will be preserved forever. I’m amazed that in two weeks we’ve raised pretty much the asking price for this land through social media and crowd-surfing. We’re overwhelmed by the local communities and those further afield who have been unbelievably generous. It’s restored our faith in humanity.”

The impact on the green space in the heart of Gledhow Valley would be severely detrimental to the local community, and the group have been working hard to raise £28,500 to stop the woods being taken over by developers.

SAVE OUR GREENSPACE: Friends of Gledhow Valley Woods would like to see a patch of land on Gledhow Valley Road protected so that future generations can enjoy the wilderness of nature

SAVE OUR GREENSPACE: Friends of Gledhow Valley Woods would like to see a patch of land on Gledhow Valley Road protected so that future generations can enjoy the wilderness of nature

Dave Miles, also from FGVW, said: “It’s been a big community effort. We’ll leave the land as it is if we get it.

“We may take away the barbed wire and put up a few fences. We are so pleased with how the neighbourhood has responded. Everyone has become so involved in this and it’s so good to achieve this on behalf of the community.

“Now we need to get over than final hurdle to achieve our dreams.”

Steve continued: “These woods are beautiful and are open to everyone. It would be the last piece of the jigsaw to save it. In this very field we’re trying to protect, a doe gave birth to a fawn three years ago; a fox family with three cubs call it home and we also have a pair of nesting sparrow hawks in the corner near the trees.

“To interrupt the green corridor is madness.”

A plan to build 14 homes on the site last year was submitted by the Catholic Diocese of Leeds and a private landowner, who own adjacent fields off Gledhow Valley Road in Chapel Allerton. However , Leeds City Councillors rejected the idea.

The community has put forth ideas in the past for the field’s use, such as turning it into a wildflower meadow, a picnic area and even an orchard.

Sheela Birdi, a local resident and campaigner, said: “I bring the grandchildren here. It’s perfect.”

Fellow campaigner, Kuldeep Bajwa, added: “Having green space is really important. People can come and see wild nature instead of in the park where it’s controlled.

“Kids love it in nature. Here, you can pick up a stick and use your imagination to turn it into a sword or magic wand. To see children having their imagination sparked in a place like this is wonderful.”

FGVW’s main priority now is to raise money to secure the site for local people. Bids needs to be submitted by Friday 22nd April.

To make a donation and help keep the green belt intact, visit https://crowdfunding.justgiving.com/Friends-of-Gledhow-Valley-Woods

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Rizwan’s Island adventure

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MEET THE MEN: Eight men and eight women are taking part in The Island on Channel 4

MEET THE MEN: Eight men and eight women are taking part in The Island on Channel 4

Bradford’s Bear Grylls aims to be positive role model for Muslim community

Channel 4’s latest series of Bear Gryll’s hit show, The Island, kicked off this week with Bradford’s own Rizwan Shabir leaving quite an impression on viewers and his fellow campmates.

The 26-year-old mobile phone shop owner is a self-confessed ‘huge fan of survival shows’ yet initially struggled to settle in camp when he arrived on the isolated archipelago.

Suffering what seemed to be a panic attack, the Yorkshireman said he had never felt his heart beat so fast as the team of eight men were forced to set up camp on what would turn out to be a uninhabitable tidal beach.

Eventually seeking shelter from the sea in the wild terrain, Rizwan was finally able to settle for a good night’s sleep – or as good as it can be on the jungle floor where spiders fall from the branches above and angry scorpions scuttle freely.

Unfortunately for his fellow contestants, Rizwan’s thunderous snoring prevented many others from achieving such a peaceful rest.

The show continues every Monday for 13 episodes. Whether Rizwan will survive until the end is yet to be seen, but his character is certainly getting plenty of attention on social media.

@Harry_wsykes was one of Rizwan’s fans writing: “Would love to go on The Island! Rizwan is hilarious! If he can survive this anyone can!”

However, others were less keen on the local husband and father.

“20 mins on the island #Rizwan [says] "you think you can do it? I dare you to sign up" Seriously. I've had worse experiences getting out the bath,” wrote @xCarlyMcx, whilst @DonEyles added: “Think Rizwan thought he had signed up to go to Ireland, not 'the island'. Rookie error. Drink those tears mate.”

As a practicing Muslim, Rizwan will face challenges others may not have to on the Island, as he only eats Halal meat and prays five times a day.

He says hopes he can be a positive role model for the Muslim community through the show and we the best of luck to our very own Rizwan Crusoe.

DETERMINED: Rizwan Shabir is representing Bradford on The Island

DETERMINED: Rizwan Shabir is representing Bradford on The Island

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Inter-faith charity group strengthens Leeds’ community spirit

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INTERFAITH: People of all faiths – and none at all – met up and had a brilliant day of giving and sharing

INTERFAITH: People of all faiths – and none at all – met up and had a brilliant day of giving and sharing

Sadaqa Day success

On Sunday 20th March, Muslims of all denominations from Leeds came together to carry out social action and perform good deeds for others in the local community.

The city’s Sadaqa Day team rounded up over 50 volunteers from a wide range of different communities, faiths and denominations to help strengthen community relations in Leeds.

This year food donations from local business, mosques and communities were collected, helping to create 125 food parcels for the poor and vulnerable, in conjunction with ‘PAFRAS’ – Positive Action for Refuges & Asylum Seekers.

In addition, 100 new toys were collected and motivational cards were made to give to vulnerable children in care in Leeds, thanks to Child Friendly Leeds.

Children and young people also took part in clearing unkempt green spaces in the Lake District and local green spaces in Leeds.

Aisha Rashid – co-ordinator of Leeds Muslim Youth Forum - on behalf of the Sadaqa Day Leeds Team said:  “This year’s Sadaqa Day event was a huge success due to the partnership of Muslim organisations that brought it all together and we were humbled by the turn out of volunteers who joined us from other faith groups, making Sadaqa Day an incredible interfaith experience.

“We are confident that Sadaqa Day will be an annual event that will celebrate the numerous good works that are carried out by Muslims across Leeds”.

Qari Asim, Imam of Makkah Mosque Leeds, added: “Overall, it was a fantastic event, bringing together people of different ages and backgrounds; Muslims, Christians, Jews and people of no faith to help the poor and the vulnerable in our society.

GENEROUS: Hundreds of toys were donated to the city’s most needy

GENEROUS: Hundreds of toys were donated to the city’s most needy

“100 crates of food and 150 toys were donated. People poured out their hearts and were very generous with their money and time. They made an effort to help each other.

“People came together to do something for our own city and the people in it.

“We started a collection a week in advance. On the day we had 30 volunteers that delivered food parcels and toys to various charities.

“A stand out moment was the conversations that took place. People think that people of different faiths don’t get on, and that faith isn’t relevant to what our society needs, but faith has always been at the forefront of social action.

“Volunteers willingly came together to do something for their fellow human beings. It was in complete contrast to the carnage that happened in Brussels this week.”

The #SadaqaDayLeeds team was made up of Makkah Masjid Mosque in Hyde Park, Leeds Grand Mosque, Abu Huraira Mosque, Leeds Muslim Youth Forum, Baab-ul-Ilm, Leeds Muslim Youth Group, Hamara Healthy Living Centre and the Leeds Give A Gift project.

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Two pillars of the community travel from Leeds to the Vatican

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UNITY: The visit was organised in partnership with BARA and the White Ribbon campaign by LEGA Italian Rugby Football League

UNITY: The visit was organised in partnership with BARA and the White Ribbon campaign by LEGA Italian Rugby Football League

Spreading hope with the Pope

A pair of community activists from Leeds ventured over the sea to Rome to meet one of the world's most powerful religious figures last weekend as faith, religion and sport came together in harmony at the Vatican.

Imam at the Makkah Masjid, Qari Asim, and White Ribbon Sports Ambassador, Ikram Butt, travelled to meet with Pope Francis to pass on their message of unity all the way from Leeds.

The duo were able to speak with his holiness, Pope Francis, where they presented him with a plaque in recognition of his work in promoting peace and bringing an end to violence.

PRIVILEGE: The trio spoke for around five minutes about interfaith dialogue and the White Ribbon campaign

PRIVILEGE: The trio spoke for around five minutes about interfaith dialogue and the White Ribbon campaign

Qari Asim described the trip as 'profoundly humbling'.

"It was a great privilege to personally meet the Pope," he said. "The Pope looked directly into my eyes; held my hand and spoke with a gentle and loving voice.

"Whilst shaking hands with Pope Francis, I praised him for aspiring to be a spiritual leader who is foremost a pastor to the flock, not a king, and for focusing on ordinary people, and not on religious dogma.

"On hearing my comments, he lowered his head slightly with humility and brought his hands together as a gesture of thanks to His Lord, which was a deeply moving moment for those of us who were fortunate enough to witness it."

The visit to the Vatican was organised following a trip to Italy last year by the British Asian Rugby Association (BARA), of which Ikram is the founder.

During the visit, the team faced off against an Italian team for the inaugural White Ribbon trophy.

Alongside the match, BARA and White Ribbon representatives held talks with the Secretary General of Lega Italian Rugby Football League (LIRFL), Pierluigi Gentile, about interfaith dialogue and ending violence against women.

Discussions were held to see how interfaith dialogue could be promoted through the platform of sport.

Ikram said: "We owe a lot of thanks to Pierluigi and the whole LIRFL team who will be coming to Leeds in May as we reciprocate the visit.

"Qari Asim has extended an invitation to the Makkah mosque and we will play out the second White Ribbon trophy, which is to become an annual fixture."

INTERFAITH: Imam Qari Asim and Ikram Butt met with His Holiness Pope Francis last weekend

INTERFAITH: Imam Qari Asim and Ikram Butt met with His Holiness Pope Francis last weekend

On meeting the Pope, he added: "You remember every small detail when something like that happens.

"I was honoured to shake his holiness' hand. I remember not taking my hand away and neither did he. We were talking and holding hands and I just thought...this guy is amazing.

"I spoke with him about BARA, White Ribbon and interfaith dialogue, and his words were 'bless you, keep doing the great work you are doing, you have my full support'.

"I came away knowing that we certainly have his blessing."

 

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Tributes to a real ‘family man’: Community in shock over death of Moortown dad

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TRAGIC: Rashpal Singh Bansal died suddenly earlier this month after suffering suspected heart failure

TRAGIC: Rashpal Singh Bansal died suddenly earlier this month after suffering suspected heart failure

More than 1,000 mourners have turned out to pay their respects to a much-loved businessman from Moortown who died earlier this month.

Father-of-two, Rashpal Singh Bansal, was just 40-years-old when he was taken to St James’s Hospital on the morning of Friday 5th February after suddenly suffering suspected heart failure.

Despite attempts to revive Mr Bansal, he was later pronounced dead at the hospital.

Last week, on Tuesday 16th February, members of the Sikh community rallied together to provide catering services to the mass of mourners at Sheepscar’s Ramgarhia Sikh Centre where Mr Bansal’s funeral was being held.

Amongst the family and friends present was younger brother, Gurvinder Bansal, 37, also of Moortown.

Speaking of the tragic news of his brother’s death, he said the whole family were in disbelief about the sudden loss of such a close relative.

“It was shocking,” he said. “One minute you’re at work on a Friday afternoon looking forward to the weekend and the next you are getting a phone call that turns your life upside down.

“I headed straight to the hospital and was pointed in his direction. I walked in and he was there... dead. Mum was there, not crying, not upset - just in total shock, expressionless.”

As well as raising two children, Mr Bansal was well known in Leeds through his involvement in the family business, Bansal Printers, in Woodhouse.

Described as a ‘real family man’, Gurvinder added: “He was just a very well mannered, not easily offended, happy-go-lucky kind of guy.

“He wasn’t too much into material things but rather just took enjoyment from being around his family. He would always enjoy doing things with his young girls, and they really loved him.”

He continued: “We are a very close family, we all live on the same road so he would always be coming around.

“He was an older brother and my point of contact. Anything I needed I could speak to him about, especially when it came to computers, he was geeky like that.”

Mr Bansal leaves behind his wife Ravinder, 38, and daughters, Harleen, aged eight, and Karam, five.

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Dewsbury-based Muslim project trying to make the world a better place to live

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MIXING RELIGIONS: Bishop of Huddersfield, Rt Reverend Jonathan Gibbs, attended the Peace Party

MIXING RELIGIONS: Bishop of Huddersfield, Rt Reverend Jonathan Gibbs, attended the Peace Party

Peace Party brings communities together

Activists and volunteers rallied together in Dewsbury last month to promote peace across the district.

Local Muslim community organisation - ‘Kumon Y’all’ - set up pop-up stalls outside Dewsbury Town Hall on Saturday 23rd January.

Around 35 volunteers gave away free cupcakes, samosas and sweets, while encouraging people to unite as a community.

They created placards which read: ‘Love Thy Neighbour’ and ‘Peace Begins With A Smile’.

Project leader, Farook Yunus said: “We work hard to bring different communities together. We had great laughs, and discussions with people to try and make our world a better place to live.”

Batley Councillors, Shabir Pandor, Gwen Lowe and Amanda Stubley visited the Peace Party.

Mr Yunus added: “We had a lot of discussions with people to get a better understanding of different communities. It was a really good day and we feel got our message across well.

FRIENDLY FUN: Pop-up stalls handed out free food during the peaceful meet up

FRIENDLY FUN: Pop-up stalls handed out free food during the peaceful meet up

“There are too many misunderstandings between cultural and religious groups in our region and, if they are not tackled, communities will drift further apart.

“We need more common activities to bring people together to create a better understanding which will give us our goal of peace and harmony between all. So ‘Kumon Y’All’ -  let’s work together and make this a better place to live.”
The event was held a week before a Britain First Rally came to the town on Saturday 30th January.

Britain First has been secretive when asked about how many members are signed up to its controversial group, instead saying its ‘in the thousands’. It insists it has widespread support, pointing to its Facebook page, which has over a million likes.

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Sikhs take to the streets in bid to help out homeless in Leeds

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Langar tackles hunger in Leeds

As homeless figures continue to rise in the UK, and the need for foodbanks grows every year, one West Yorkshire community ventured out last weekend to offer up free food and drink to our county’s most vulnerable people.

Sikhs from gurdwaras in Leeds and Bradford gathered at Dortmund Square, on The Headrow, on Sunday to dish out samosas, lentil curry and rice to over 200 people from 5pm to7pm.

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Following on from a successful initiative on National Langar Awareness Day in October, the ‘world’s oldest soup kitchen’ once again took to the streets for the benefit of the wider society.

Rapaljeet Kaur was one of those who helped organise the distribution day.

She said: “As Sikhs, a big part of our faith is charity and sharing what we have with others, whether that is food, compassion or love,” she said.

“To see up to 200 people come down on the day just shows how many people are in need of a service like this.

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“Before we went down, we had distributed leaflets at centres and St George’s Crypt to make people aware of the event but we were still surprised by the number of people who came down.”

As well as serving up hot meals from their tent, volunteers also took meals to people across the city who were unable to travel to the site.

All food and drink on the day was donated by local gurdwaras and distributed by Sikh volunteers.

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Rapaljeet added: “After our Langar event last year, we knew there was a need for this service in Leeds. It is something we are looking to do again already.

“Hopefully we can establish some sort of weekly or monthly distribution, whether that is inside somewhere like St George’s Crypt or on Dortmund Square.”

Langar is the provision of free vegetarian meals for all and is served up in gurdwaras across the world every single day. The concept revolves around the Sikh belief that every human being should have the right to free food.

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Local bobby PC Ash Razzaq named on the Queen’s Honours List

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TEAM EFFORT: PC Ash Razzaq paid tribute to the team who helped support him and CATCH

TEAM EFFORT: PC Ash Razzaq paid tribute to the team who helped support him and CATCH

A local police officer from Leeds is preparing to swap the streets of Harehills for the red carpet of Buckingham Palace later this year, after being named on the Queen’s New Year’s Honours List.

Prevent Engagement Officer, Asad Razzaq - known as Ash - was awarded an MBE for his services to young people and the community.

The award acknowledges the work he has done in his own time as voluntary leader of CATCH (Community Action to Change Harehills).

Having begun his career in the force eight years ago, the 30-year-old helped co-establish CATCH in 2009.

CATCH is a charity based in Harehills which was part of the massively successful ‘Hovingham Project’.

RECOGNISED: Dr Nisreen Booya will receive an MBE for her services to Healthcare, particularly Mental Health

RECOGNISED: Dr Nisreen Booya will receive an MBE for her services to Healthcare, particularly Mental Health

The project aimed to develop a large area of ugly wasteland into a beauty spot for the local community to enjoy. Thanks to PC Razzaq’s resourcefulness and vision, the sports field is now used for cricket, football and other activities – instead of a dumping ground for used syringes.

The sports field has become a symbol of hope for hundreds of young people and local residents, and is the meeting spot for ground-breaking community projects and initiatives.

Speaking of his award, PC Razzaq said: “I'm sincerely thankful and humbled to be recognised with such an honour.

“I was taken aback when I received the letter and had to keep it secret for two weeks before the New Year’s Honours List was actually revealed.”

PC Razzaq is ‘overwhelmed’ and hopes to continue the work that he loves for many years to come. He said: “I would also like to thank all the people who have supported and been involved with CATCH.”

As a Prevent engagement officer, working in Harehills, Ash concentrates on building cohesion between different community groups through a range of innovative projects.

PC Razzaq has been instrumental in community development and partnership work, which has included working with Hovingham Primary School and Leeds City Council in setting up a self-sustainable community hub in January 2013.  

The charity has knitted together young people from across a range of communities and backgrounds in a bid to tackle anti-social behaviour, crime and community cohesion and create a brighter future for young people.

West Yorkshire Temporary Chief Constable Dee Collins said: “PC Razzaq’s work within the community of Harehills cannot be understated and represents community cohesion at its best.

“He has worked exceptionally hard for a number of years to build resilience and forge new relationships within the diverse community of Harehills.

“The significant role he has played in bringing together people from different minority groups has been undertaken in his personal time while also serving as a full-time police officer.”

In total 1,196 people were named on the annual New Year’s Honours List for 2016, with 5.7 per cent coming from ethnic minority backgrounds.

Other local recipients included Dr Nisreen Hanna Booya, from Huddersfield, for services to Healthcare, particularly Mental Health, and Satpal Singh Nahl, from Leeds, for services to Taxpayers and Public Administration.

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MP for Dewsbury feels buoyant as she rides the crest of a wave

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UNITING THE COMMUNITY: Paula Sheriff has been interested in politics from the age of seven

UNITING THE COMMUNITY: Paula Sheriff has been interested in politics from the age of seven

Paula Sheriff wants to anchor values of tolerance and acceptance in the community

Labour’s MP for Dewsbury, Mirfield, Denby Dale and Kirkburton, Paula Sherriff, certainly has had an eventful year.

In June, she received death threats from far-right activists on Facebook when she asked her local community to unite in the wake of Dewsbury teenager Talha Asmal’s suicide bombing in Iraq.

“The initial shock has perhaps dissipated but people are conscious that we are living in a changing world and there are many different threats out there now,” she said.

“However, I don’t think it has been forgotten in the community. People are still very aware of what went on. To be honest, I think what it has done has made people rethink how we can actively work in the community, particularly with our young people.

“It has made parents sit up and take notice because Talha was very much an ordinary teenager. In terms of cohesion, there is more awareness now.”

With 46 per cent of people in Dewsbury West being of a Muslim faith, and a 43 per cent Asian population in Dewsbury South, her constituency is certainly a diverse one.

It is just another reason why the Scotland-born MP loves her job.

“I love being the MP for Dewsbury, obviously,” she said. “It’s very diverse. I love my constituency. I’ve got some very close friends now who are Muslim. We go out together and it’s fantastic. I’ve learnt so much about Islam and the Muslim faith.

“My mother is of Polish descent, so I was brought up in a family where we all embraced diversity and were taught not to feel threatened when people were different.

“It’s absolutely wonderful being the MP for Dewsbury, I get the best of every world.

“When I’m out representing the town and sometimes find people saying that Islam is dangerous, I can say that it isn’t the case.”

Paula has been politically-minded from the age of seven. She described her parents as ‘news junkies’.

“I wasn’t necessarily brought up in a family that was pro-Labour but it was certainly anti-Conservative,” she added.

WONDERWOMAN: Paula has been involved in a number of public initiatives

WONDERWOMAN: Paula has been involved in a number of public initiatives

“I remember asking questions when I was a child. As I got older, I developed a strong social conscience and became increasingly frustrated at the growing inequality that’s out there.

“I worked in the Police for ten years and then I worked in the NHS. They’re perhaps two professions that are dominated by what is happening politically.

“Then I became a union shop steward for the Trade Union and I really enjoyed helping people and stood up for vulnerable people. My political career kind of bounced off from there. I became a councillor for Wakefield and then decided to stand for Parliament and the rest is history.”

Paula is currently working with MEND (Muslim Engagement and Development).

She is aware that Islamophobia is on the rise, so she often goes into schools to educate young people about hate crime and how it is unacceptable.

“That means any kind of hate crime,” Paula continued, “Whether it’s Islamophobia, homophobia or anti-Semitism. I also want to teach kids about tolerance and respect. For me that’s the key. For everyone out there to learn about diversity.

“I’ve been taking part in plenty of school assemblies about British values and obviously at this time of year I’ve been talking about Christmas. Children in the school might not celebrate Christmas so I talk about how they might celebrate Eid.

“I talk about the similarities between Eid and Christmas, about how it’s a time for family and for giving and sharing. I emphasise that life is about the things that bring us together, rather than what divides us.”

Paula says she is not a career politician. “I haven’t even been to university, which is unusual for an MP, so for me it’s a shock to see how far I’ve travelled.

“I feel like I’m on the crest of a wave right now. As an MP you can help people and see it through - knowing that you can make people’s lives better makes me feel so happy.”

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Team Harehills: Putting the ‘unity’ back in community

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APPEAL: The Harehills Refugee Aid team are appealing for teams to take part in their fundraising football tournament ahead of their aid visit in the New Year

APPEAL: The Harehills Refugee Aid team are appealing for teams to take part in their fundraising football tournament ahead of their aid visit in the New Year

As refugees in Calais prepare to see in the New Year in their self-constructed camps, a team of determined fundraisers 300 miles away are readying themselves for an aid mission in 2016.

Under the banner ‘Harehills Refugee Aid’, a group of at least 12 volunteers will make the trip from Leeds to France on Wednesday 6th January, armed with multiple vanloads of supplies.

With over 20 local business pledging support, and members of the local community coming together with collections and donations, organisers say they feel the project has helped ‘unite Harehills’.

Sajad Sajawal, one of the men behind the appeal, explained: “For almost all of us, this will be the first time we go on an aid mission like this so we want it be done right.

“It started off with just eight or nine of us talking about the project and now it feels like all of Harehills is involved.

“Businesses and local residents have really got behind the project and we are still raising funds and collecting for the aid mission.”

The team are now arranging a football tournament this year to raise extra funds to purchase stock for the trip.

Held at Thomas Danby College on Sunday 27th December, 18 teams of seven, with two substitutes, will face off in the ‘Tournament of Hope’, held between 10am and 6pm.

“This is just the latest way we are trying to get people involved with the project and it is already shaping up to be a good tournament,” Sajad added.

Amongst the group travelling to Calais next year is Mukith Ali. He is one of the only volunteers to have previously carried out aid missions to France having already completed two visits in the last couple of months.

Explaining what the team were likely to expect come 6th January, he said: “You do not realise exactly how bad the conditions at these camps are until you get there.

“The last trip I went on was really rewarding and I want this group to have that same feeling, that we know we have helped some families.”

If you would like to register a team for the ‘Tournament of Hope’ please contact Tavseef Rashid on 07867 625715.

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Community rallies to aid of arson victim

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SHAKEN: Subi Philip whose home was attacked

SHAKEN: Subi Philip whose home was attacked

Indian family in Northern Ireland attacked in hate crime

A community in Northern Ireland has rallied behind an Indian family which was the target of an arson attack.

Within 24 hours of the hate crime, a crowd-sourcing campaign raised £7,000 (£2,000 more than the target amount) for cardiac nurse, Subi Philip, to buy a new car to replace her vehicle which was destroyed in the attack.

Subi and her two children, aged 10 and eight, were at their home in County Atrim when arsonists struck just before daybreak on Friday 25th November.

“I just heard a big bang and got out of my bed and saw a big fire. When I came downstairs and saw it, I started screaming. My girls didn't know why I was screaming and they were screaming too. I was really panicking,” Subi said on BBC television.

The family is from India and Subi’s husband is currently there attending his father’s funeral.

Northern Ireland police is treating the attack as a hate crime.

“We believe that the attack was motivated by racial hatred,” said Chief Inspector John Allen.

“Any attack on property is unacceptable, however I totally condemn the racial hate crime element of this attack, which makes it particularly repugnant,” he added.

About 60 Indian families live in the area and most of them work in the Antrim Area Hospital as either nurses or doctors.

Following the blaze, three men started a fund to raise money to replace the family’s car.

One of them, John McCarthy, said they started the online campaign with the aim of raising £5,000, expected to run for a few weeks, yet the public responded swiftly and generously.

“We expected this campaign to go on until Christmas – but not gather pace to £6,000 in 24 hours,” he told the local Newsletter newspaper.

“Now the figure stands at £6,983 and has been pledged by 402 people, which shows how good people are,” he added.

Mr McCarthy, 26, along with Michael Wilkinson, who lives in Vienna, and his brother Tom Wilkinson, 22, said they were moved by the family’s plight after hearing it on the news.

The Ulster Unionist Party Member of Parliament for South Antrim, Adrian Cochrane-Watson, said Mrs Philip got her children out of bed and “escaped up the street to safety”.

“This is a young mother who has been living in this country for a number of years, who has set up home,” he said. “This is a lady, a professional who is saving lives every day of the week and rehabilitating people who are suffering from heart disease or heart attacks.

“The Fire and Rescue Service said the blaze was being treated as deliberate.”

Police have appealed for information.

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Crowds turnout to pay respects in Leeds

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PROUD: Stakes with poppies attached were sold by the Royal British Legion as a way of allowing different faith groups to pay their respects to fallen soldiers

PROUD: Stakes with poppies attached were sold by the Royal British Legion as a way of allowing different faith groups to pay their respects to fallen soldiers

Towns and cities across the country fell silent on Armistice Day last week as the nation paid its respects to its fallen soldiers.

On Wednesday 11th November, the traditional two-minute silence was observed to mark the end of the First World War and to honour those who have died in conflict ever since.

Following on from Remembrance Sunday services, Armistice Day is often seen as a more private, reflective time, away from the larger public gatherings.

In Leeds, a well attended event was once again seen on Sunday 8th November, with ex-service men and women joining current serving military organisations outside Leeds City Museum.

Crowds then joined the gathering as they marched to the city’s war memorial where poppy wreaths were laid on behalf of the city’s residents.

POPPY: Raman Singh laid a poppy wreath in Leeds on behalf of the city’s Sikh community

POPPY: Raman Singh laid a poppy wreath in Leeds on behalf of the city’s Sikh community

Amongst those paying their respects were Balbir Singh and Raman Singh who laid a poppy wreath on behalf of the city’s Sikh community.

Prior to the occasion, the pair had helped distribute Sikh poppy stakes for the Royal British Legion which acknowledge the war efforts of Sikh soldiers in the two World Wars.

Speaking prior to the event, Balbir said: “These [poppy] sticks give followers of all religions the chance to show their respects alongside their faith.

“I have seen a record amount of poppies this year and it is a huge sign of respect.

“The sticks have grown in popularity every year since they were first made available and it is a fantastic way of seeing how different communities are coming together for this one day.

“We must remember the efforts of so many soldiers, and so many Sikhs, in the war and the sacrifice they made.”

The Lord Mayor of Leeds, Councillor Judith Chapman added: “Remembrance Sunday is a time where individually and as city we can come together as one and pay our respects to those people who lost their lives during times of conflict.

“The service at the war memorial on Victoria Gardens is always a very moving and poignant occasion, and we...say thank you to all those who made the ultimate sacrifice serving their country.”

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Choudhrie commits to Lib Dems

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LEADER: Head of the Liberal Democrats, Tim Farron, says he looks forward to working with Sudhir Choudhrie

LEADER: Head of the Liberal Democrats, Tim Farron, says he looks forward to working with Sudhir Choudhrie

New overseas adviser appointed by Farron

Liberal Democrat Leader Tim Farron has this week announced the appointment of businessman Sudhir Choudhrie as his Adviser on India.

The role will involve helping the party develop its relationship with the British-Indian community and provide advice on Britain’s foreign and business relationships with India.

The role is also tasked to help the new leader gain a better understanding of the UK Indian community, its needs and concerns as part of Mr Farron's wider commitment to increasing the diversity of the party.

sudhir choudhrie (338x450)During the recent Lib Dem leadership election the party’s leader spoke passionately about the need for the party to reach out to Black, Asian, and Minority Ethnic (BAME) communities and for the party to become far more reflective of the communities it is seeking to serve.

Tim Farron has also committed to visit India in early 2016.

The appointment of entrepreneur Mr Choudhrie comes ahead of Prime Minister Modi’s visit to the UK between the 12th and 14th November and follows Mr Farron’s appointment of two Middle East advisers last month.

It further reinforces the Liberal Democrat leader’s stance on building relationships with Britain’s ethnic minority communities and strengthening the party’s voice in foreign affairs.

Mr Farron said: “India is a key strategic partner for the United Kingdom and the British-Indian community contribute so much to our country. I am determined that the Liberal Democrats do all we can to maximise the economic, cultural and social benefit of these relationships.

“Sudhir has been a committed supporter of the Liberal Democrats for many years and I look forward to being able to draw on his vast business experience, unparalleled network in both the UK and India, and wise political counsel.”

Mr Choudhrie, who has been one of the party’s biggest donors in recent history, said he was honoured to take up the position.

He said: “I have long believed that the Liberal Democrats best embody the internationalist and pro-enterprise values that characterise the British-Indian community and I am honoured by Tim Farron’s decision to ask me to fulfil this role, especially coinciding with Prime Minister Modi’s visit to the UK this week.

“India, with its ever vibrant and expanding consumer market of over 1.2 billion people is slated to emerge as the world's third largest economy by 2030, which makes the country extremely attractive for investment. It is critical that both India and the UK collaborate on a common agenda of growth.”

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National recognition for community champion

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Habiban Zaman has been working with diverse communities, women and young people in a voluntary and professional capacity for over 25 years in Kirklees

Habiban Zaman has been working with diverse communities, women and young people in a voluntary and professional capacity for over 25 years in Kirklees

Kirklees engagement officer heads to the capital for prestigious award

A tireless volunteer from Kirklees has become the first person in the region to be awarded a prestigious British Community Award following a glamorous ceremony at the House of Lords.

Mother-of-two, Habiban Zaman, from Batley Carr, headed down to the capital earlier this month to receive her award for her work regarding integration and cohesion in the community.

Currently working as an engagement officer for Kirklees Council, the 49-year-old has been working with different community and women’s groups voluntarily for over 25 years.

Establishing her own support groups and working with organisations across the region,

On Friday 9th October, she received her coveted British Community Honours Award from Princess Katarina of Yugoslavia and Serbia.

Speaking after the ‘exhausting day’ she said: “It was an amazing day which was made all the more special because it was inside the House of Lords.

“When I started volunteering I couldn’t have even imagined being in this kind of situation so it is a huge honour for myself and my family.

“Helping women and young people in these diverse communities has become a real passion of mine and it is more than just a job with the council. It is something I really enjoy doing.

“The whole day in London went so fast because it was so enjoyable and it meant a lot to me to have my family there for support.”

The British Community Honours Award is not the only title Habiban has received in recent years, with the community stalwart given the British Empire Medal during the Queen’s Birthday Honours in 2014.

Having helped thousands of women across the region, she says awards like these only make her more determined to continue, even if they are not the reason she carries out the work she does.

“I started volunteering in the local community around 27 years ago and have always worked from my heart,” she said.

“Looking back on my career so far it is very pleasing to see how far we have come as a community since I began.

“Today, people from all backgrounds, from mosque leaders to individuals on the street, trust me because they know that I only want what is best for this community and its people.

“I think I have changed perceptions through my work and am determined to continue doing so. Perhaps that is what I am most proud of.”

The British Community Honours Awards are a registered charity working to improve the welfare and inclusion of minority communities in mainstream British society, recognising individuals contributions to the cause.

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EDL march slammed by community leaders

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DEMONSTRATION: English Defence League supporters will arrive in Bradford next month

DEMONSTRATION: English Defence League supporters will arrive in Bradford next month

Unity rally planned for same day as far-right event

On Saturday 14th November, members of the far-right English Defence League (EDL) will march through the streets of Bradford for the first time in over two years.

Following a subdued event in October 2013, demonstrators will return to the city next month with a large police presence once again predicted.

Now, a community organisation has arranged for a counter-demonstration to take place on the same day, with the chair of the group slamming the far-right protestors.

The ‘We are Bradford’ group are calling on people to join them for their peaceful rally - ‘Justice for the victims - We will not let the racists divide us’.

Ashiq Hussain, chairman and spokesperson for the group, said the EDL were attempting to ‘exploit’ certain crimes for their own benefit and urged the public to stand against the protest.

“We are Bradford condemn the EDL's decision to come to Bradford on Saturday 14th November. We believe it is a cynical attempt to exploit the appalling crime of sexual exploitation for their own selfish ends,” he said.

“We support and seek justice for all victims of sexual exploitation regardless of their social or ethnic background. We condemn and seek prosecution of all those responsible for these crimes irrespective of their ethnicity or creed.

“We reject the attempt by the EDL to whip up racism and division in our city by trying to turn communities against each other without a care for the damage it leaves in its wake.

“We also reject the attempt by the EDL to use the crime of sexual exploitation to demonise one community.  It is important to emphasise that the victims and perpetrators come from all communities.”

Counter-demonstrations have occurred previously when the EDL have visited many cities and towns, with Bradford hosting their own in recent times.

Ashiq added: “The EDL is a racist group dedicated to attacking Asian people and Muslims. Islamophobia – bigotry against Muslims - is as unacceptable as any other form of racism. Today they threaten Muslims, tomorrow it could be Jewish people, Hindus, Sikhs, black people, LGBT people, Travellers or East Europeans.

“We urge people of goodwill to support the 'EDL not welcome in Bradford' statement and join the 'Justice for the victims - We will not let the racists divide us' peaceful unity rally on Saturday 7th November.”

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Honour for Habiban: Community cohesion work praised in Kirklees

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AWARD: Habiban Zaman is the first person in Kirklees to receive a British Community Honours Award

AWARD: Habiban Zaman is the first person in Kirklees to receive a British Community Honours Award

A Dewsbury woman has become the first resident in the entirety of Kirklees to receive a prestigious British Community Honours Award (BHCA) following a trip to the capital last week.

Mother-of-one, Habiban Zaman, received the award for her tireless community work in her role with Kirklees Council, where she promotes integration and multi-faith relations.

Over the past 25 years, she has helped thousands of people across the region and was previously commended in The Queen’s Birthday Honours List in 2014 with a British Empire Medal for services to women.

On Friday 9th October, she was invited to the House of Lords to receive her latest commendation.

Speaking before the event, she explained how important interfaith work was on a local and national level.

“It is obviously an honour to receive this award, especially after the British Empire Medal,” she said. “However, I do not carry out my work for recognition; I do it from the heart.

“Since 7/7 there has been a huge focus on Muslims across the country and I have always been determined to show the best side, and the true side of these communities.

“We all have more in common with each other than we have differences and it is these things that we need to build friendships around and publically set an example.”

The BHCA’s are presented to individuals who have made an outstanding contribution to the welfare and integration of minority communities into mainstream British society.

Through Habiban’s work with her local community, she has gone the extra and mile, and beyond, in ensuring cohesion is established between all cultures and social policy is developed with each resident in mind.

Taking 11 friends and family members with her to the awards, it is a huge achievement for any individual and one she said she would never forget.

“I still can’t believe that I’m the first person in Kirklees to receive the award,” Habiban added.

“To know I have made an impact on someone’s life is what I work towards and this is a great way to celebrate it.”

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All 5MILES for fundraising run: Thousands raised for local children’s hospices

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MEMORY: Fundraisers took part in a five mile run or walk in aid of the Martin House and Forget Me Not Children’s Hospices, in memory of Arslan Aslam

MEMORY: Fundraisers took part in a five mile run or walk in aid of the Martin House and Forget Me Not Children’s Hospices, in memory of Arslan Aslam

Family and friends of a teenager, who sadly passed away in hospital earlier this year, have raised thousands of pounds in his memory for two local causes.

16-year-old Arslan Aslam, from Ravensthorpe, suffered from muscular dystrophy and died five days after undergoing surgery, to allow him to sit up straight, at Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital.

On Saturday 26th September, around 30 people gathered to complete a fundraising walk or run, from the family home in Ravensthorpe, to Huddersfield’s Forget Me Not Children’s Hospice.

Raising funds for the hospice, as well as Martin House Children’s Hospice, over £4,000 was collected in total, following a number of fundraising activities in previous weeks.

TEAM: Around 30 people joined in the fundraiser, with local boxers, including Arslan’s brother Rizwan, running the distance

TEAM: Around 30 people joined in the fundraiser, with local boxers, including Arslan’s brother Rizwan, running the distance

Amongst the walkers on the day was Arslan’s father, Mohammed, who along with his wife, Nasreen, and eldest son, Hassan – who also suffers from muscular dystrophy, completed the five mile route in around two hours.

Arslan’s brother, Rizwan, ran the distance with local boxers from across the region, after helping organise the event.

TRIBUTE: Arslan Aslam passed away earlier this year after suffering a cardiac arrest five days after surgery at Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital

TRIBUTE: Arslan Aslam passed away earlier this year after suffering a cardiac arrest five days after surgery at Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital

Speaking after the walk, Mohammed said he was delighted with the turnout on the day and hoped to repeat the initiative next year.

“We had a row of champions leading us out on the run with boxers from across the region, who knew Arslan, coming down to take part,” he said.

“It was a great effort by everyone who joined in, with the runners completing the route in around 51 minutes and the walkers in just under two hours.

“When we arrived at the finish, staff at the hospice were fantastic with us all and their hospitality was brilliant. To have raised around £4,000 is a great achievement and we hope it can help these two brilliant causes.”

Amongst the donors to the fundraiser was Arslan’s former school, Newsome High School, who collected £700 for the project, whilst Diamond Wood Community Academy also donated funds. Meanwhile, the fundraisers were also joined on the day by Dewsbury MP, Paula Sherriff.

With plans to repeat the run next year, Mohammed is determined to build on last weekend’s success and ensure they can smash their fundraising targets.

FAMILY: Rizwan Aslam was joined by boxers on the day to complete the five mile run in memory of his brother

FAMILY: Rizwan Aslam was joined by boxers on the day to complete the five mile run in memory of his brother

“The event itself was kept relatively small this year which allowed us to make sure everything ran smoothly but next year we are already aiming to make it bigger and better,” he added.

“Hopefully, with the help of sponsors and the community we can raise even more money for Forget Me Not and Martin House.”

Lisa Calvert, Community Fundraiser at Forget Me Not Children’s Hospice, thanked the family for their support.

“From everyone at Forget Me Not Children’s Hospice we want to say a big well done to all of the participants who took part in the sponsored walk and run this past Saturday and a special thank you to everyone who worked so hard to organise the event,” she said.

“We must raise £3.8million each year to continue providing our services and with just six per cent of this coming from government funding, the support of the local community is vital.”

Sarah Tarpey, Community Fundraiser at Martin House Children’s Hospice, added: “Rizwan’s efforts are truly inspiring and we thank him wholeheartedly for his support.

“The Aslam family have been a pleasure to work alongside and we are deeply touched that Rizwan has chosen to remember his brother, Arslan, by raising much-needed funds to support other young people at Martin House.”

If you would like to make a donation towards the family’s efforts, please visit mohammedarslan.aslam.muchloved.com

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Empowering Communities: Founded in Bradford, working across the world

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CLIMB: Fundraisers for Empowering Communities will scale Wales’ highest peak next month and you are invited to join them

CLIMB: Fundraisers for Empowering Communities will scale Wales’ highest peak next month and you are invited to join them

Currently operating from a small office on Great Horton Road           in Bradford, Empowering Communities was setup by a group of friends last year with one aim in mind - to make a lasting difference in the lives of the needy so that one day they may help others.

With that ambition in mind, friends, relatives and family members have all come together to help drive this dream forward.

It takes vision, drive and determination to take on a task as monumental as this. Poverty affects billions of people across the globe and money has been going towards it for years, so what's so different with Team EC?

Well, they believe that the problem is not about people not trying to help, but not helping in the right way.

If instead of giving a man and his children a handout of free food every day we got him a job, he'd be able to work and buy that food himself, eliminating his dependency on charity.

That's the aim but only a small part of what Empowering Communities are achieving.

In order to achieve these lofty goals, money has to be raised. So day in and day out you'll see different volunteers doing their little bit to help raise money for this unbelievable cause.

empowering communities snowden (409x307)You might see them standing on the streets in their blue and white t-shirts, braving the cold, wind and rain holding buckets asking for your donations.

Sometimes they even get help from your favourite cartoon characters. You might even see a few of their volunteers running in and out of shops.

That's because Empowering Communities has the most charity collection boxes of any charity in the country. With 20,000 boxes from Dundee to Brighton, it's their main source of fundraising.

Whether it's collecting a box from a shop or holding a bucket in the street, the fact is that money needs to be raised in order to continue the work that this amazing group of people have done, and hopefully help empower even more people.

Today there a thousands of people touched by their progress. Women who had no hope, children who were looking at a lifetime of slavery and even the ill and elderly who had accepted their fate of painful, lonely and humiliating years leading to their death.

All of these people and more have been helped by the fantastic volunteers that have helped bring a dream to life.

However this is only the beginning of the journey, not the end. Empowering Communities are looking for many more people with huge hearts of gold to help them continue their mission. We had a chance to catch up with Azeem Yasin, from Empowering Communities, for a quick few words.

“I'm nothing special, I'm a regular guy with a wife and kids but sometimes you think that, I've got kids and I love em to death....but what if they couldn't go to school or had to work on the street polishing shoes or fixing wheels because that was the only way they could get a square meal?” he said.

“That would rip me apart. So why shouldn't I try to help those children who are in that position? So if that means standing with a bucket, running in and out shops or climbing Mt Snowdon, I'll do it.

“At least then I know that I'm trying to help someone and make a difference in the world.”

This month fundraisers from Team EC will be trekking up Wales' highest peak, Mt Snowdon, to raise money for the refugee shelter that they've begun work on in Pakistan.

You can help too by signing up to climb Mt Snowdon on 10th October with only £100 sponsorship required. Transport will be provided and everybody will be leaving at 7am and ready to conquer this mountain for charity.

Of course not everybody can climb a mountain but that doesn't mean people don't want to help.

Alternatively, you can text EMPOWER to 70660 to give £3 or go online at www.empoweringcommunities.org or even call the office at 01274 502 750 to make a different donation or even set up a direct debit.

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Community Champion

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AWARD: Habiban Zaman will head to the House of Lords later this year to receive her BCHA

AWARD: Habiban Zaman will head to the House of Lords later this year to receive her BCHA

Prestigious award for Kirklees worker

Over the past 25 years, Habiban Zaman has worked tirelessly to promote community cohesion across Kirklees with her efforts even recognised by her majesty the Queen last year in her annual Birthday List.

Less than 12 months later, and the mother-of-one from Dewsbury is now planning her next trip to the capital after being awarded the British Community Honours Award (BCHA) for her work with social cohesion and integration.

The BCHAs are presented to individuals who have made an outstanding contribution to the welfare and integration of minority communities into mainstream British society.

Through Habiban’s work with her local community, she has gone the extra and mile, and beyond, in ensuring cohesion is established between all cultures and social policy is developed with each resident in mind.

Upon receiving the letter, the ‘community champion’ said she didn’t have any idea what it was and initially just placed the closed envelope on the side to be opened later.

Having finally peaked inside, Habiban learned of her award and said she could not believe it, but was extremely excited.

She said: “I didn’t even realise how much of a prestigious award this was until I read into it a little more and it is a really big thing.

“To have been put forward for this is just incredible and I have even now been told that I will be the first person in Kirklees to collect a BHCA.”

She added: “We need to ensure that we are encouraging interaction between communities and enabling people of all backgrounds to participate in wider society and institutions.

Habiban was commended in HM the Queen’s Birthday Honours with a British Empire Medal (BEM) for services to women in 2014.

She will now head down to the House of Lords in October to collect her latest BCHA.

 

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‘Charity starts at home’

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Trustees call on Asian communities to step forward and help local charities

GIVING: Hanif and Rifhat Malik were made trustees of the Children’s Heart Surgery Fund and Martin House Children’s Hopsice earlier this month

GIVING: Hanif and Rifhat Malik were made trustees of the Children’s Heart Surgery Fund and Martin House Children’s Hopsice earlier this month

A husband-and-wife from Leeds are urging more people from the South Asian community to get involved with causes ‘closer to home’ after being appointed Trustees of local charities.

Hanif and Rifhat Malik were officially ‘sworn-in’ to their new roles with the Children’s Heart Surgery Fund and Martin House Children’s Hospice respectively, after their work in setting up and running the Give a Gift scheme.

Through the project, a team of volunteers have hosted Zumbathons, annual 5k runs, ladies evenings, plus much more, all topped off with an annual Ramadan toy appeal which sees hundreds of gifts handed out at the Leeds General Infirmary and the hospice.

Mrs Malik, who helped establish the scheme back in July 2013, continues to lead on many of the projects today and was approached by Wetherby-based Martin House to become a trustee.

She said it was ‘imperative’ that people understood the crucial role these local charities play for all communities and said herself, nor her husband, ever thought twice about taking on their new roles.

“It was by chance that we both actually got approached to apply to become trustees around the same time as each other and were subsequently accepted as well,” she said.

“We both want to raise the profile of the fantastic work these two charities do, who provide a lot of support to the South Asian communities, but don’t necessarily receive the same support back.”

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Around 10,000 children each year are reportedly cared for at the Leeds General Infirmary Children’s Heart Surgery Unit, of which 25 per cent are from South Asian communities.

Mrs Malik added: “Charity starts at home and these two causes are right on our doorsteps and need help from volunteers to continue to provide the amazing work they do.

“When you get involved with a charity such as Martin House you begin to see all the additional support services in place which are not seen from the outside. The human aspect they bring to the care is incredible and gives a whole family the best care possible during some of their hardest days.”

Mr and Mrs Malik added that it was not only monetary donations which they would like to see improve from South Asian communities, but the roles of volunteering as well.

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The Give a Gift scheme is operated on a voluntary-basis and has helped to raise thousands of pounds for the two causes since its inception.

Mr Malik says he believes anyone can help the charities by giving up just a fraction of their time.

“There are so many ways to get involved with helping charities here at home, and in the role of trustees we are now hoping to cascade that message to different communities,” he added.

“The two charities are so important for so many families, so I would urge everybody to step forward and follow the Give a Gift example by helping in whatever capacity you can.”

Give a Gift was established as a way of allowing members of Leeds’ South Asian community to ‘give back to society’ and is led by the local Hamara Centre, with support of local mosques, businesses and education centres.

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A first-hand look at life behind bars

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PRAISED: Naz is a former prisoner who turned his life around and now works with young people to deter them from a life of crime. He will be using the facilities with his organisation, Con-Sequence

PRAISED: Naz is a former prisoner who turned his life around and now works with young people to deter them from a life of crime. He will be using the facilities with his organisation, Con-Sequence

Bradford Centre of Excellence looks to turn youths away from crime

Bradford’s leaders have taken a proactive step in the fight against youth crime after opening the city’s first Centre of Excellence in Girlington last week.

The site, which features in-house mock jail cells, a court and living area, has been developed as part of the city’s pledge to do more to prevent ‘at risk’ young members of society turning to crime.

Based at Girlington Community Centre, the facilities will be used by a range of community organisations, as well as some schools.

Former criminal ‘Naz’ is one of the people who will be utilising the site alongside his organisation ‘Con-Sequence’ which works with young people to deter them from a life of crime.

LAW: An onsite replica court is amongst the facilities on show at the Centre of Excellence, here deputy leader of Bradford Council, Cllr Imran Hussain, stands with young people from the local area

LAW: An onsite replica court is amongst the facilities on show at the Centre of Excellence, here deputy leader of Bradford Council, Cllr Imran Hussain, stands with young people from the local area

Having been handed a nine-year prison sentence for a drug related offence at the age of just 21, he has seen first-hand what life is like behind bars and wants people to understand the ‘harsh realities’ of what prison is really like.

“When you are in prison you are on your own,” the now 34-year-old said. “There is no back up and the realisation of what you have given up all comes crashing down on you.

“When I was serving my time, I made the decision to turn my life around and thankfully got involved with the Prince’s Trust which helped me a lot.

“After my release, I began working in schools and talking with young people about the harsh realities of crime. I see it as my debt to society, to warn the next generation and to make sure they keep on the right path in their lives.”

REALITY: Cllr Hussain examines the mock cell with some of the young people present at the launch

REALITY: Cllr Hussain examines the mock cell with some of the young people present at the launch

He added: “I am over the moon to see a centre like this open in Bradford. It will be a huge benefit for a number of organisations and I can’t wait to use these facilities.”

Naz also worked with the local MAGIC (Manningham and Girlington Influencing Change) project upon his release from prison in 2008, with the new Centre of Excellence seen as a further ‘step-up’ from that successful initiative.

The centre will provide a permanent base for organisations to use and will walk them through the journey of a life of crime, from the initial illegal act itself, to home life, then court and finally to prison.

Cllr Imran Hussain, deputy leader of Bradford Council, was a driving force behind the initiative, securing funds for its development and helping to build up the concept from the ground.

At the launch event on Thursday 19th February, he said he was delighted to see the doors open and believes it will be a big asset to the community.

LAUNCH: The Lord Mayor of Bradford, Cllr Mike Gibbons, and Lady Mayoress, Mrs Elizabeth Sharp, helped officially open the site last Thursday

LAUNCH: The Lord Mayor of Bradford, Cllr Mike Gibbons, and Lady Mayoress, Mrs Elizabeth Sharp, helped officially open the site last Thursday

“The reason we set up this Centre of Excellence is to eliminate any false ideas that young people may have which suggest a life of crime can be ‘glamorous’ or ‘beneficial’,” Cllr Hussain said.

“This is an innovative landmark project which will aim to draw back ‘at-risk’ young people from the cliff edge by working with former offenders, community organisations and the police.

“Building off the success of past projects such as MAGIC, this is a unique way of giving the youth an insight into truths of what prison life, and the stages before that, is really like.”

Police and Crime Commissioner for West Yorkshire, Mark Burns-Williamson, added: “This is another great example of work being done in local communities to deter youth crime.

“Money from my Safer Communities Fund has been invested into this project and I hope it will become a very successful one as the facilities are utilised.”

 

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