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Smuggled in a suitcase: Syrian refugee family reveal how they paid £45 to get their baby across over the border

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Zak Al Halak, 34, his wife Ghaliya, 25, and their three children – five-year-old Amneh, three-year-old Omar and one-year-old baby Zineddine

Zak Al Halak, 34, his wife Ghaliya, 25, and their three children – five-year-old Amneh, three-year-old Omar and one-year-old baby Zineddine

 

A Syrian family now settled in the UK paid £45 to smuggle their baby to Lebanon in a suitcase as they fled their war torn village.

Zak Al Halak, 34, his wife Ghaliya, 25, and their three children Amneh, five, Omar, three, and Zineddine, one, are just one of 15 Syrian families who have found refuge in the UK last year.

As part of the Syrian Vulnerable Persons Resettlement Programme, the family now lives in Brightlingsea, Essex.

As the country marks Refugee Week, Mr Al Halak spoke out about his family’s plight and their former lives in Syria.

Mr Al Halak said: “The shelling started in our town and it was like rain on us every day.

“They even bombed the staircase in our home.”

The family was living in rural Homs, in Talkalakh, just north of the border with Lebanon, where Mr Al Halak helped run his father’s garage and car washing business.

In March 2011, the Syrian Army started opening fire to disperse crowds of peaceful protesters.

It sparked armed rebel groups to form in the city and the army besieged the area with tanks before unleashing mortars while carrying out large-scale house raids.

So heavy was the shelling the family were forced to barricade themselves at home for more than a week, before the Syrian Army drove out the rebels and took control of the city using militia.

Mr Halak added: “It was unsafe and we couldn’t even go out of our house because we didn’t know if anyone was going to shoot at us at any time.”

Looters destroyed the family’s business, so Mr Al Halak had to travel back and forth to Lebanon every day to work in an aluminium business to support his family.

In early 2012, the insurgents again infiltrated Talkalakh, which sparked an armed response from the Syrian Army and strict new border controls meant the dad-of-three could no longer cross into Lebanon for work.

DANGEROUS: At the time Amneh was just a year old when her mother paid for her to be smuggled across the border in a suitcase

DANGEROUS: At the time Amneh was just a year old when her mother paid for her to be smuggled across the border in a suitcase

 

Increased tensions meant the family soon fled for Lebanon.

But they had to travel separately and Mr Al Halak had to wait almost two months to be reunited with his wife.

In desperation she had to pay smugglers £45 to bring their daughter Amneh across the border hidden in a suitcase.

During their four years in Lebanon, the family say they were harassed by the Lebanese military and Mr Al Halak was arrested twice.

Al Halak added: “Life in Lebanon was very difficult. Despite the fact we entered the country legally they didn’t allow us to bring young children, so we ended up paying someone to smuggle our own daughter in a suitcase.

“There was no work and life was so expensive and so difficult. As Syrian people we were stopped by the Lebanese army all the time.

“I was stopped at one of the checkpoints when my wife was in labour.

“She was pregnant with my youngest, and I was taken to prison for three days and didn’t even attend the birth of my third child. That was very difficult.”

The parents have now thanked the people who have welcomed them to the UK.

He said: “We would like to thank the UK and the people of Essex so much for welcoming us here. Everyone is very kind and friendly towards us.

“We are lucky to be here in this village because we have received a warm welcome and we thank God for that.”

Mrs Al Halak added: “Life is completely different here as I’ve got my whole family back in Syria, but here I don’t have anyone.

“But we are so grateful to be here in Essex where we feel safe and welcome.

“In Syria before the war, life was so good. We were quite well off, we had our own house and life was great.

“Life is a bit difficult here but this is only the beginning and we will get used to the UK.

“We are grateful to the Government and councils and the people who have welcomed us here in the kindest way.”

Mr Al Halak added: “Like all the other Syrian refugees here, we are hardworking people and are grateful for all the help and support that we are receiving at the time being.

“But we will take this only until we find our feet and then we will be working, integrating in society and giving as much as getting.

“I hope this happens quickly, it’s just a matter of time because we need to learn the language, but then we will be active in the society.”

David Finch, leader of Essex County Council, said: “The success of our SVPR programme is a fantastic example of partnership working at its best.

“Indeed it was one of the reasons Essex County Council received an excellent rating in a Local Government Association inspection last year – one of only two councils in the country to receive the highest score.

“The welcome the Al Halak family has received in Brightlingsea is heart-warming and testament to the people of Essex.”

New statistics reveal effect of modern day lifestyles on family life

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The average family in Yorkshire and the Humber last spent quality time together with their loved ones more than six weeks ago (6.5 weeks), according to new statistics released by the British Heart Foundation (BHF) for its Wear it. Beat it. fundraising campaign.

A new survey by the BHF has revealed the stresses of modern day living are putting a considerable strain on family life. One in twelve (8.3%) of people from Yorkshire and the Humber said the last time they spent quality time with their family was over a year ago, or not at all.

Almost one in five (18.9%) parents in Yorkshire and the Humber said they leave the house at least once a week without seeing their children. One in six (18.5%) of the region’s parents also said they’re so busy that in an average day they often don’t spend any time whatsoever with their children, and many (17%) had missed an important occasion because of it.

More than a quarter (26.5%) of parents from Yorkshire and the Humber worry that their children spend far less time with their family than they did when they were young. While it might be work getting in the way for busy parents in Yorkshire and the Humber, almost a quarter (23.8%) worried that social media is distracting their children away from quality family time when they are home. One in eight (13.3%) said it’s because everyone’s busy schedules just didn’t match up.

More than half (53.6%) of those polled from Yorkshire and the Humber said they feel guilty that they don’t spend enough time with their loved ones. The BHF is encouraging families to get together on Friday 9 June for the charity’s annual wear red day.

By donning your favourite red garments and organising a red fundraising event, you can help support life saving research in the fight against heart disease. Sign up at WearitBeatit.org.uk

Last year more than 15,000 people took part in Wear it. Beat it. raising over £750,000. The BHF is calling for even more of you to get involved this year and help raise in excess of £1million for the charity’s heart research.

It could be a yummy red bake sale after school or a red-themed garden party with friends and family. Whatever you choose to do, Wear it. Beat it. is a great way to bring everyone together and help make a difference to millions.

Once you sign up, you’ll receive a free fundraising kit jam-packed with reddy-made ideas and goodies to help make Wear it. Beat it. the BHF’s biggest, reddest and best year yet.

Sign up to Wear it. Beat it. at WearitBeatit.org.uk or call 0300 330 0645 and get your free fundraising pack full of fun ideas about how to get involved.

Boxing family bust up: Amir Khan’s sorrow over his wife coming to blows with her in-laws

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After boxer Amir Khan’s wife exposed family secrets in a lengthy social media rant earlier this month saying how his relatives have been ‘trying to destroy’ their marriage, his father has decided to step in to say his piece.

Speaking to BBC Asian Network, the boxer’s dad, Shah, has described the row as an embarrassment and says he doesn't see the argument stopping.

It apparently started when Amir Khan's wife, Faryal Makhdoom, said his family was bullying her over her clothes.

She then shared a picture on Snapchat of Amir's brother supposedly lying half-naked on the floor and supposedly drunk.

Amir Khan, 30, posted a message on Twitter saying sorry for the row.

Faryal apologised on Snapchat not long after sharing the picture, saying: “Hey guys I wanted to apologise for the picture I put up earlier. I was a bit angry and I felt like I needed to justify myself.”

But Shah Khan says Faryal should have apologised over the phone but he hasn't heard from her.

He said: “If she had any decency and [wanted] to patch things up, she should have picked the phone up to us and said, ‘Listen guys, whatever happens, whatever I posted, that's the end end of it. Please don't carry on’.”

He added: “Amir even came out and said, 'Please, drop everything.' And he was right in saying that - and look at what his wife goes and does - she goes on national television.”

Faryal appeared on ITV’s This Morning this week, where she accused his family members of saying she was ‘very fake’.

She said: “[They've been] saying I've done plastic surgery, calling me Michael Jackson - reading all that was not really nice.”

When asked about her claims that Shah Khan tells her what to wear, he said: “I asked her - not told her... ‘Please wear whatever you want but please do not tweet it on social media because the amount of abuse she used to get - it hurts us’.”

But it seems that Amir Khan has reached breaking point with all the bickering.

In his tweet he said: “This is getting to the point where they will lose a son and a husband. I've had enough.”

A tribute to Jane: Family name newborn after late daughter

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IN MEMORY: Khalil, Rojin and Ava Jane pictured in front of a memorial of their beloved daughter, Jane.

IN MEMORY: Khalil, Rojin and Ava Jane pictured in front of a memorial of their beloved daughter, Jane.

The family of student Jane Khalaf, who died two years ago whilst studying in Cologne after reportedly having her drink spiked with ecstasy, have paid tribute to their late daughter by giving their new child her name.

Baby Ava Jane was born at Calderdale Royal Hospital in Halifax, at exactly the same time of day that Jane’s life support machine was switched off at the German hospital.

Her Syrian-born father, Khalil, who owns Med One restaurant on Westgate, Huddersfield, said his daughter Jane will ‘always be with him’ but his new baby has also given him some hope.

Khalil said: “By complete chance, she was born at the same time that Jane’s life support was switched off, which was 1.17am.

“Ava means renewal in your life. For me, my life was so changed after Jane. But our new baby has given us a way forward.”

42-year-old Rojin, who gave birth to Ava 18 weeks ago, said: “No one can replace Jane, however Ava Jane changed our situation. We couldn’t believe that we could continue and Ava Jane has given us joy and happiness as a family.”

Khalil added: “We were about to extend our restaurant before this tragedy happened. We had added a whole floor. Jane came to visit for a week and we had the opening day. One day later after she left, Jane was taken to hospital. We still can’t open that floor. The pain is too raw.”

Next month marks the two year anniversary of Jane’s death. It still remains unclear how the ecstasy got into her system.

Rojin explained that the inquest in Bradford uncovered the fact her daughter’s death was ‘more to do with medical negligence’.

This year’s inquest at Bradford Coroners Court on 6th July heard that the gifted politics student was admitted to Cologne’s St Marien Hospital  in the early hours of 12th November 2014, where she was given a preliminary examination, but no blood test was taken.

Around four hours later Jane collapsed and fell into a coma. She was transferred to the Merheim hospital and placed on life support where she remained for eight days before she eventually died on 20th November.

“They could have saved her, and they had so many opportunities that they missed,” Rojin said. “They could have told my daughter not to drink water because it affected her more and more.”

Khalil said: “I was killed twice. My daughter is gone, but we also don’t know the truth so it’s hard to move on.”

Rojin added: “All the evidence has gone. There wasn’t a proper investigation in Germany.”

In between caring for Ava and running their busy restaurant, the couple are focusing on getting St Marien Hospital to admit clinical negligence, although so far the hospital has denied any responsibility.

Thanks to the couple’s loyal customers at their restaurant, they have a strong support network.

Khalil said: “Jane was our hope. Out of the 40 million Kurdish people she was very politically active. She was my project for humanity – to give something back to the people.”

8 years of waiting: Family appeal for answers in case of father’s death

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TRAGIC: The remains of Surjit Thakar were found at the side of the M54 by workmen last year, yet his cause of death has never been discovered

TRAGIC: The remains of Surjit Thakar were found at the side of the M54 by workmen last year, yet his cause of death has never been discovered

Surjit Takhar was 37 when he was reported missing from his home in Oldbury on Wednesday 8th October 2008. He was last seen by his family nine days before and a detailed investigation was carried out at the time of his disappearance.

Nearly seven years later maintenance workers found his remains at the bottom of an embankment next to the slip road of junction 4 of the M54 in Telford on 20th August 2015.

West Mercia Police conducted a full forensic examination and a DNA profile, along with dental records, confirmed the remains were those of Mr Takhar, however the cause of his death remained unexplained.

Now detectives are re-appealing for information which will help then uncover how Mr Takhar died.

Detective Inspector Jim Munro, from Force CID, said: "We would like to hear from anyone who has information about Mr Takhar’s whereabouts around the time he disappeared.

"Crucially a phone call was made to police in January earlier this year from a caller who said they had information but no details were taken, so I would urge that person to call us again.

"Also I would like to hear from anyone who saw something suspicious on the M54 around junction 4, but didn’t think anything of it at the time."

Mr Takhar was a father of three and a much loved brother and son. His sister Saroj Binning spoke of the man they have lost: “Surjit, known as Skin amongst family and friends, had a big heart and a charismatic smile. He had a wide circle of friends in the Asian community.

“We as a family are determined to find who is responsible for his death. We are committed to gain justice for our brother Surjit. He is missed as a loving father, a brother and a son." 

His children Harry Takhar, aged 21, and 23-year-old twins Sohnia and Sohnay, joined the appeal for the public’s help.

They said: “Please can you help us get justice for our father so we can finally lay him to rest? If anyone has any information, can you please come forward?

“We have missed out on having our father in or lives for the last eight years, not knowing where he was, why he wasn’t in our lives and whether he was dead or alive.

“Now we know what happened, please could someone come forward with information on how this tragedy occurred, so we can put an end to our nightmare.”

Anyone with information should call detectives on 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

Family reunion…in sand!

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SAND-TASTIC: Zayn Malik’s mum, Tricia, called the sand sculpture of her son ‘fantastic’ during a visit to The Broadway last week

SAND-TASTIC: Zayn Malik’s mum, Tricia, called the sand sculpture of her son ‘fantastic’ during a visit to The Broadway last week

Broadway’s sand sculptures get the Malik seal of approval

An A-list gathering with a twist took place today Bradford’s Broadway shopping centre last week, as Zayn Malik’s mum and sisters gathered for a closer look at a sand sculpture created in tribute to the city’s very own superstar.

Earlier this month, shoppers watched as sand artists sculpted three and a half tonnes of sand into works of art showcasing the best of Bradford - these included a city scene, magician Dynamo and former One Directioner, Zayn.

BEST OF BRADFORD: The Broadway general manager, Ian Ward, greets Tricia Malik

BEST OF BRADFORD: The Broadway general manager, Ian Ward, greets Tricia Malik

Tricia Malik, Zayn’s mum and a self-confessed ‘regular shopper at The Broadway’, paid a visit to the centre on Monday 15th August to see the sculpture and pose for a sand-tastic photograph for the Malik family album.

Sisters Safaa, Waliyha and Doniya were also keen to get a closer look at their sibling’s sand sculpture.

Tricia Malik said: “I couldn’t believe it when I heard that The Broadway had decided to create a sculpture of Zayn. I think it’s fantastic.

“Zayn’s sisters and I shop at The Broadway all the time – it’s wonderful to see something like this right in our home town.

“We all wanted to come along today to see it for ourselves. It’s not every day someone carves a sculpture of your son. I know he’ll be absolutely overwhelmed to hear about it.”

The sculptures were created by Bradford team ‘Sand in Your Eye’ and is just one of several attractions planned for The Broadway over the summer months.

Ian Ward, general manager at The Broadway, said he was ‘delighted’ to welcome the Malik family down to the centre.

“When we commissioned these sculptures, we wanted to celebrate everything that’s great about Bradford,” he added. “Zayn epitomises the vibrancy and uniqueness of this city, and he’s so popular with our shoppers, we knew we had to include him.

“We never imagined we’d have a family photograph taken on the malls with his mum and sisters. It was a really special moment.

“We’re thrilled that they like the sculpture and we would invite all Zayn fans to come along and see it too. The sculptures will be here all summer.”

“We went on the plane but it didn’t fly!”: Family left ‘distraught’ when the Captain refused to let them board

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AIRPORT FIASCO: The family say they felt like they were being treated as ‘terrorists’ as they were escorted off the plane

AIRPORT FIASCO: The family say they felt like they were being treated as ‘terrorists’ as they were escorted off the plane

A family from Bradford have recounted the moment they were forced to leave a plane due to a boarding pass mix up, leaving group members ‘traumatised’ and feeling like ‘suspected terrorists’.

Najan Azhar, 51, from Bradford, was looking forward to the ‘holiday of a lifetime’ with 10 relatives last month after booking a family getaway to Marmaris, Turkey.

After passing the regular security checks at Doncaster Sheffield Airport, the group waited to board the plane and sat down at the airport cafe, just metres away from their boarding gate.

Najan recalled: “It was just the normal waiting procedure really. Someone in the group began feeding her baby and the cleaners came round to clean up whilst we ate.

“We went to board.  It was then that we noticed two boarding passes were missing - mine and my husband’s.”

As three members of the family frantically searched for the missing passes, other relatives were settling into their seats having boarded the plane.

Najan added: “We were desperately looking for the passes and even told the cleaners to look in the bins. My daughter was upset because she’d arranged it all. We were all distraught because we weren’t allowed to get on without them.”

TRAUMATISED: Sisters, Sienna, Sophia and Aniyah, from Bradford, were amongst 11 family members forced to leave a plane last month

TRAUMATISED: Sisters, Sienna, Sophia and Aniyah, from Bradford, were amongst 11 family members forced to leave a plane last month

The passes were eventually found by a member of the cleaning staff who allegedly claims they had been discovered inside a sandwich box in the bin.

After speaking with the boarding staff, Najan says she was ‘furious’ that the group were still denied entry to their pre-paid flight.

“We don’t know why,” Najan said. “We had made it through all the other checks, showed our boarding passes a number of times, and still we couldn’t get on the plane.

“We felt as though we were being treated as terrorists. The family members who had already boarded told the captain ‘the kids can’t fly without their mother or grandmother’.”

Najan’s son, Hasan Azhar, was one of those relatives who had already taken his seat when the commotion started.

“The captain said my mum couldn’t get on and that all of us would have to get off the flight if we refused to go without her. Everyone was just staring at us. How we were treated that day was disgusting.

“It was a bit daunting because we really were the only Asians on the aeroplane. We didn’t sleep because we were so stressed out.”

The mix up eventually cost the family hundreds of pounds to rectify.

Despite being issued with flights on the next plane to Marmaris by the airline, the 11 holidaymakers had to transfer from Doncaster to Manchester Airport – at their own expense, whilst one member of the group dropped out of the holiday due to ‘stress’.

There was also the added expense of losing two days of their holiday due to the mix-up, with the original flight time – 8.35am on 25th July – changed to 9.30pm the following day.

“We still had to return on 1st August so our holiday was cut short,” Najan said. “We had kids as young as one travelling with us, so to be given tickets on such a late flight, when our original booking was in the early morning, was disgraceful.

“It was an expensive delay and one we should never have been forced to go through. We felt victimised by the airline. Was it because of the colour of our skin? I don’t know.”

After returning from the holiday, the family complained to Thompson but were reportedly told there was ‘nothing that could be done’.

“We will continue to fight this,” Najan concluded. “To be taken off the plane and escorted back out of the gate was humiliating.

“People were looking at us like we had done something wrong, like we were a threat to security. The kids still don’t understand what happened.

“The three-year-old told her friends: ‘We went on the plane but it didn’t fly.’ What kind of a life experience is that for her?”

 

SECURITY: Faizah Shaheen was questioned by airport security after reading a book on Syrian art and culture on a plane

SECURITY: Faizah Shaheen was questioned by airport security after reading a book on Syrian art and culture on a plane

Flying as a Muslim

In today’s climate, which is fuelled by daily stories of terrorism, it is seemingly becoming increasingly difficult to board a plane when Muslim.

Earlier this month, a Muslim couple – Nazia and Faisal Ali – were removed from a flight from France to the US.

A flight crew member had complained to the pilot that she was uncomfortable with the Muslim couple in the second row of economy class.

The woman was wearing a head scarf and using a phone and the man was sweating, she allegedly told the pilot. The pilot contacted the ground crew. He would not take off until couple was removed.

The flight attendant allegedly also complained that the couple used the word ‘Allah’. The airline in question subsequently said it was ‘deeply committed to treating all of our customers with respect’.

Other examples this summer include NHS mental-health worker Faizah Shaheen who was on her way back from her honeymoon when she was detained and questioned for 15 minutes by police under schedule 7 of the Terrorism Act.

Cabin crew on her outbound flight said they had seen her reading a book about Syria. Shaheen said she was left in tears by the experience. Thomson airlines said: “Our crew are trained to report any concerns they may have as a precaution.”

Sky ride returns to Leeds: Free event for cyclists of all ages

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FUN FOR ALL THE FAMILY: The route will encompass some of Leeds’ best landmarks and riders can look forward to whizzing past the Town Hall and the Civic Hall

FUN FOR ALL THE FAMILY: The route will encompass some of Leeds’ best landmarks and riders can look forward to whizzing past the Town Hall and the Civic Hall

Cyclists of all ages will have the chance to leisurely take in the sights of some of Leeds’ most iconic city centre landmarks as part of the popular Sky Ride event on Sunday 17th July.

The free event, which will take place between 10am to 3pm, allows thousands of cyclists of all ages and abilities to ride safely through a special traffic free route in Leeds city centre. Previous years have proved to be very successful attracting more than 8,000 participants.

Along the 6.5km route riders can look forward to passing historic city buildings from the University of Leeds to the Town Hall and Civic Hall. Riders can challenge family or friends in the Sprint Zone on the Headrow, watch mountain bike stunts at the Tricks and Tunes zone at Woodhouse Moor, and find out more about cycling opportunities in Leeds at the Hub on Millennium Square.

ON YOUR BIKES!: The traffic free route in Leeds City centre will attract thousands of participants this year

ON YOUR BIKES!: The traffic free route in Leeds City centre will attract thousands of participants this year

A rolling road closure programme will be taking place in areas of the city centre on the day.

Cllr  James Lewis, Leeds City Council’s executive member with responsibility for sport, said: “Sky Ride is a fantastic event for people of all ages to get on their bike and experience the joy of cycling. This is the fourth year that it will be coming to Leeds and it is great to see people of all abilities build confidence on their bikes in a fun and safe city centre route, whilst having the chance to take in some of Leeds most iconic city centre buildings.

“Having hosted the Tour de France le Grand Départ in 2014 and featured in events such Tour de Yorkshire, and Sky Ride, Leeds is well and truly on the global cycling map. We are looking forward to moving forward with one of the key elements of our future cycling strategy, which will aim to provide more opportunities for people to get involved and enjoy the sport.”

Anyone wishing to sign up is encouraged to do so at www.goskyride.com/leedsskyride where they will receive a Halfords bike check voucher worth £14.99.

The Premium choice: Specialists in immigration, family and business Law

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Shazia Anjum started her legal career in 2002 after realising the need to ‘move forward and serve her community’.

Fourteen years on and Ms Anjum is not only a successful solicitor with her own firm, Premium Law Solicitors, but also has multiple awards to her name.

Ms Anjum said: “To become a solicitor has been my ambition since I was young. I grew up in Pakistan, then I decided to come to the UK to hone my skills.”

The plucky solicitor explained that she witnessed the suffering of women in prison and ‘nobody was there to represent them, even though they weren’t guilty’, which motivated her to pursue a career in the field of law.

“I came here as an immigrant from Faisalabad, studied at University and then completed a Masters in Company Law.

“It was after my education that I moved to Birmingham where I worked at a solicitors firm to get more experience.

“I finished the Qualified Solicitors Course to get the conversion skills I needed too,” she added.

From her grassroots beginnings, Ms Anjum now has her own flourishing business and is currently recruiting more people to work with.

“I’m a supervisor now and I feel blessed. People have awarded me for my community services and for the support I give to women through advocating for them.

“I can read into the core issues of the community, why people are feeling vulnerable and why some people feel like they are left behind in the community.”

Specialising in Immigration and Family Law, the company has recently been excelling in the business law sector, with cases including contractual disputes and landlord and tenant disputes.

“My firm is going very well,” Shazia added. “We can get justice for businesses and for the person on the street.

“I’ve moved the business into bigger offices and I now even have approval for my London branch.”

For Ms Anjum, this is only ‘the start of her career’.

“My ambitions are to spread across the country and have a global reach,” she said.

“I feel there are some loopholes in the law that need to be filled at a global level and I intend to address this.”

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343 Cheetham Hill Rd,

Manchester,

M8 0SF

Phone:0161 205 7087

WIN A FAMILY PASS TO ALTON TOWERS THIS SUMMER

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Asian Express Newspaper are giving away 5 bundles of tickets

As a big thanks to our readers and to take some of the stress out of  keeping kids happy during the long Summer holidays, Asian Express are giving away five family passes to the Alton Towers Resort to experience two exciting new attractions in 2016.

galactica (321x450)Prepare for a new flight on Galactica, the world’s first rollercoaster with fully dedicated virtual reality.

Upon mounting the ride, thrill seekers each receive a pair of specially-modified virtual reality goggles.

Riders then zoom around an 840 metre long track at nearly 50mph. It really feels like you’re soaring into another dimension and experiencing the next frontier of space.

For guests seeking a dining experience with a twist, the UK’s first Rollercoaster Restaurant, launched in May, is set below a vast rollercoaster track where diners can watch as their order tackles two gravity defying loop-the-loops!

The new attractions join over 50 rides and attractions at the Alton Towers Resort.

There is something for everyone to enjoy, whether you’re after gentle thrills or pure adrenalin pumping experiences!


To be in with the chance of winning a family ticket, simply answer this question:


Galactica is one of the first rollercoasters to feature virtual reality. But how long is its track?


1. 1,000 metres

2. 563 metres

3. 840 metres

Send your answer, name, contact number, and address to competitions@asianexpress.co.uk for your chance to win. Entry closes for this competition on Thursday 30th June. Good luck!


Terms and Conditions


The family pass consists of four tickets and is valid for any one day of the theme park season which runs from 19th March-6th November 2016. The pass is for entry into the theme park only and does not include food or drink. Tickets are non-transferable.


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Returning to the nest

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CHANGING HOUSEHOLDS: Young adults are moving back in with their parents due to unaffordable housing, low wages and crippling debt

CHANGING HOUSEHOLDS: Young adults are moving back in with their parents due to unaffordable housing, low wages and crippling debt

Boom of multi-generational households as youngsters return to live with family

As house prices in the UK have risen by 52 per cent from 2005-15, there has been a whopping 46 per cent increase in multi-family households.

In the same period, 32 per cent of young people aged between 21 and 34 have moved back home in order to save for a deposit, according to a report by Aviva insurance.

Aviva suggests that based on the rate of growth seen in the past 10 years – and assuming house prices will continue to rise – there could be 2.2 million people living in multi-family households and 3.8 million 21-34s living with their parents by 2025.

However, rather than being a negative trend, two in three people currently in this living situation say the benefits far outweigh the disadvantages, according to Aviva’s inaugural ‘Home’ report which focuses on the changing face of UK households.

Some of the benefits include; always having someone around for company, living costs are cheaper when shared, household jobs and chores can be split, living in a bigger family makes it feel more ‘like home’ and the positive feeling from being able to look after other family members.

Affordability of housing appears to play a huge role in people’s decision to stay living with family or moving back in with them.

When asked about situations when they might consider this living arrangement for six months or more, saving for a house deposit was the second most common reason given, beaten only by caring for an unwell relative.
The question remains: if the widening gulf between salaries and house prices continues, is it a freely made decision for children to move back home, or a forced one?

Have you had to move back with your parents because of low wages, crippling debt and unaffordable housing? Talk to us! comments@asianexpress.co.uk

Students to host a special evening for local Syrian families

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INVITATION: Students from Dixons City Academy’s Syrian Action Team have organised a special event for the local Syrian population

INVITATION: Students from Dixons City Academy’s Syrian Action Team have organised a special event for the local Syrian population

A warm welcome to Bradford

Bradford’s title as a ‘City of Sanctuary’ will be further reinforced by some of the region’s younger members next month as a special refugee welcoming event is staged at Dixons City Academy.

Sixth form students at the school are currently organising a special evening for the city’s Syrian population, which continues to grow as the UK lives up to its commitment to resettle 20,000 Syrians over the next five years.

Over 100 families from the war-torn nation currently reside in Bradford, more than any other city in England.

Ihsan Ahmed, who is part of the DCA Syrian Action Team, explained why the students were so eager to help some of city’s newest residents.

“As sixth form students we were devastated to hear about the news in regards with Syria over the summer,” he said.

“So after the holidays, we have been working closely with Horton Housing Association in Bradford, who are involved with housing new refugees arriving in Bradford.

“We have been told that they will bring around 100 Syrian refugees to our event. It has been organised to welcome the Syrian refugees to Bradford and to show our support for them.”

On the night, attendees will receive free food and gifts, many of which have been donated by local businesses after being approached by the students.

Over £1,000 has also been raised as part of the project to provide extra support for local refugees.

Debbie Vickerman, Student Voice co-ordinator at Dixons was full of praise for the attitude the students had shown.

“When the children first approached me about helping the refugees, we had a number of ideas,” she said.

“After doing some research, we found that driving down to Calais with a bus full of supplies might not be the best way of making an impact as so many people are doing that.

“Instead, the children have been working hard to organise this event here at the school to give local Syrian families a special night which I’m sure they will love.”

The group consulted Abdul Aziz, from Horton Housing, about what to include on the night due to his close relationship with many of the city’s Syrian families.

Amongst the events on the night will be an auction, party games and a sit down meal. Dignitaries, including councillors, the Lord Mayor, school governors and police chiefs will all be in attendance.

The event will run from 5.30pm to 7.30pm on Thursday 21st April.

Marriage for Kabir Bedi on his 70th?

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INDIA-ENTERTAINMENT-BOLLYWOODKabir Bedi's baritone goes one decibel up when he talks about his 'Annual 50th Birthday Bash' which he is hosting on Saturday 16th January.

The veteran actor turns 70 and has planned a big party at a suburban hotel in Bandra. Invites have been sent out to the family, fraternity and even school friends. A Sufi singer is being flown in from Delhi and the evening will be a daawat fit for a king.

Buzz is, he's planning to secretly tie the knot with live-in partner, Parveen Dusanj, and the announcement will be made on birthday.

The man, who found plenty of admirers both in the East and the West, has been married thrice before, to the late Protima Bedi, Susan Humphreys and Nikki Bedi.

After he divorced Nikki in 2005, he began dating British-born Parveen Dusanj who is 29 years younger than him. The couple has been together for nine years.

UK Officers believed woman had intentions to live under Sharia Law

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GUILTY: The woman pleaded guilty at Leeds Crown Court

GUILTY: The woman pleaded guilty at Leeds Crown Court

Bradford mum jailed for flying children out to Syria

A 34-year-old woman from West Yorkshire – who cannot be named for legal reasons - has been sentenced to over five years in prison for child abduction offences.

The woman was stopped by the Turkish authorities last October, when it was believed that she had travelled with the intention of living under Daesh.

She was planning to travel on to Raqqa in Syria.

Following extensive enquiries, the mother was brought back to the UK after her suspicious husband alerted police. She was arrested after landing in Turkey where she was found with over £4000 in cash. The woman later pleaded guilty to child abduction offences.

Detective Chief Supt Clive Wain, Head of North East CTU said:

“The police together with partner agencies, including local authorities and education establishments, have a wide ranging strategy in place aimed at identifying, preventing and where necessary disrupting people who intend to travel to places such as Syria and parts of Iraq.

“These areas are dangerous and any person travelling to them is putting themselves and their children at risk. The reality of life in areas of conflict is far from the image that terrorist groups actively promote to women here in the UK.

DAC Helen Ball, Senior National Co-ordinator for Counter Terrorism, said: “Life under Daesh is no place for any child. Any mother who decides to take her children to live in a conflict zone is putting her family in grave danger. They are likely to witness extreme terror, become victims of violence, or, in some cases, be drawn into extremism and terrorism themselves.”

She continued: “I would urge families who have concerns that someone they love and care for may be considering travelling to come forward to the police or tell someone they trust in their local community about their fears so that, together, we can prevent further tragedies.”

Please contact police on 101 if you are concerned about someone travelling to, or returning from Syria. 

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The media can sometimes distort or exaggerate the truth, especially when there is a political agenda to promote. Asian Express walked around Bradford’s Bazaar to shop for sari’s, refresh ourselves with a cup of pink tea and - at the same time – ask market traders a pertinent question:

“How many people do you think have travelled to Syria to join Daesh over the past five years?”

According to statistics issued by the Home Office, the number is around 800 people, with 400 having returned back to UK shores. We wanted to find out if this figure was common knowledge to people on the street.

[Due to the delicate nature of the subject, names will remain anonymous].

“I don’t feel that there is enough clear evidence and information out there for me to make a solid statement on this matter.”

“It can’t be a huge number like what they say in the news. Maybe 20-30 people?”

“800 people is much higher than I expected.”

“People aren’t always going back to Syria with the intention to become a terrorist. Most are going back to visit their relatives whose homes and families have been destroyed in the war.”

Disney disaster for Muslim family who were banned from boarding US flight

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REFUSED ENTRY: A British Muslim family had to abandon their Disney dreams at the airport

REFUSED ENTRY: A British Muslim family had to abandon their Disney dreams at the airport

US officials refuse to explain why 

A British Muslim family in London were banned from boarding a flight to Disneyland, Los Angeles, on 15th December by US authorities at Gatwick airport. US officials have refused to explain why this happened.

Mohammad Tariq Mahmood, from north-east London, was excited to be going on the holiday to California with his brother and nine of their children.

Mahmood said: “It’s because of the attacks on America – they think every Muslim poses a threat.”

He said the children had been counting down the days to the trip for months, and were devastated not to be able to visit their cousins in America.

Mahmood is the latest British Muslim to have reported being suddenly barred from getting on a transatlantic flight, despite having been granted authorization online by US authorities.

Senior politicians have been asked to look at the incident, warning of a growing trend of the number of British Muslims being barred from the US without being told a reason for their exclusion.

Prime Minister David Cameron said that he will examine the case, which comes as a leading community group in the US has warned that Muslims are being subject to ‘an unprecedented and dramatic increase’ in violent incidents.

This attitude may be borne out of the recent terror attacks in Paris and the mass shooting in San Bernardino, California.

The case of the family from London, who were turned back at the airport, has been raised by the British Labour MP Stella Creasy who says that because US authorities are holding back information, resentment is being fuelled within British Muslim communities.

In an article for the Guardian, Stella said:“Online and offline discussions reverberate with the growing fear UK Muslims are being ‘trumped’ – that widespread condemnation of Donald Trump’s call for no Muslim to be allowed into America contrasts with what is going on in practice.”

Mahmood said that the airline told them that they would not be refunded the cost of their flights - which amounted to about £9,000.

They were also forced to return items bought from the airport’s duty-free shops, before being escorted out of the airport.

“I have never been more embarrassed in my life. I work here, I have a business here. But we were alienated,” Mahmood said.

Two days after the family was stopped from boarding their flight, another British traveller, Ajmal Mansoor, an imam and lecturer based in Bristol, was turned away from boarding a flight to New York.

“USA has the right to issue and revoke visa – I fully understand that,” Mansoor wrote in a Facebook post. “However not forwarding any reasons infuriates ordinary people. It does not win the hearts and minds of people, it turns them off.”

Social media was buzzing with comments about the Disney disaster on Twitter.

Hugh Peebles, @PeaceYank said: “Trumpstyle fear strikes again. Dreadful!” whilst Sima, ‏@simathoe, said: “They should make a Muslim Disney Princess next.”

On the other hand, conservative British columnist Katie Hopkins has spoken out in favour of Trump’s (unconstitutional) proposal.

“If Donald Trump wins the race to the White House I’m moving to America,” she tweeted the other day.

 

Like father like son: Local family aiming for a double slam-dunk in wheelchair

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FAMILY: Zeb and Armaan Ayub both suffer from a genetic bone disorder and play wheelchair basketball

FAMILY: Zeb and Armaan Ayub both suffer from a genetic bone disorder and play wheelchair basketball

A father and son from Bradford, who share the same genetic bone disorder, are determined to take the wheelchair basketball scene by storm with Europe in their sights.

Mohammed Aurangzebe Ayub, known as ‘Zeb’, and his four-year-old son, Armaan, both suffer from Diaphyseal Aclasis, meaning excess bone grows from joints and other bones in the body.

With limited movement affecting the pair at different stages of their lives, it is through wheelchair basketball that they are able to stay fit and take part in competitive sports.

BASKETBALL: Taking up the sport at four-years-old, Zeb believes Armaan has the potential to go all the way in the sport

BASKETBALL: Taking up the sport at four-years-old, Zeb believes Armaan has the potential to go all the way in the sport

Zeb, who currently represents local side Leeds Spiders and was voted Player of the Year last season, first took up the sport during his college education and says he immediately fell in love with it.

Hoping to give his son ‘the chances he never had’, the 33-year-old says by letting Armaan begin training so young, it gives him the best chance of progression.

Zeb explained: “Armaan was diagnosed with the bone disorder at two-years-old and has already had both his legs and shoulders operated on.

“Because he has seen me playing basketball in the chair, his interest was piqued at a young age and he is currently training with Keighley Cougars, where he is the youngest player.

“I have never known a kid to be as strong as Armaan. He has proven how fearless he is throughout his life, and I am so proud to see him playing.

“He has already shown so much potential and I believe he can make it all the way to play in Europe one day, where he can earn a living doing something he really enjoys.”

Diaphyseal Aclasis particularly affects young people during their growth spurts, meaning Armaan is likely to face more surgeries as he grows older.

By playing wheelchair basketball, Zeb hopes it will provide extra support for his son.

“Around Armaan’s seventh birthday it is likely that he will have to spend a lot of time in a wheelchair because as he grows it will affect his movements,” he added.

“Wheelchair basketball is not only a way for him to continue enjoying himself but also acts as a way of staying positive and acts as physio for his recovery.”

Last season was one of the most successful for Zeb personally in the sport, as he helped the Spiders get promoted to the Wheelchair Basketball Premier Division.

He plays as either a points guard or guard and helped turn the season around at the local club when he arrived, following a spell at one of the nation’s top teams, the Oldham Owls.

Currently training to become a qualified coach alongside his playing career, he is hopeful of securing a play-off spot this season, with a dream final against Oldham in his sights.

 

A Christmas visit

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

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

Young and old come together to celebrate festive season

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

CAFE ZOYA: Pick up your sweets from the Zoya Family

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When it comes to Asian sweets in Bradford, there is only one man who knows how to prepare the perfect recipe every time, and for the past 40 years he has been cooking up a storm in the city.

Today, Uncle Akbar Mughal is proud to serve-up all his traditional sweets at Cafe Zoya, hand-prepared in the same way they have been for the past four decades, with love and care rolled into every creation.

Since 2011, Cafe Zoya has been bringing these sweets to the local public and following a major refurbishment earlier this year, the restaurant has never been more prepared to meet all your ‘sweet tooth’ needs.

All your classic favourites are available at the award winning site and are served up in elegant Cafe Zoya sweet boxes, perfect for sharing or taking home to enjoy later.

‘Lucky’ is one of the directors at Cafe Zoya and  he says he is delighted to see Uncle Akbar continue ‘doing what he does best’ at the business as he continues to share his skills with the public.

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“Uncle Akbar has been credited by many as being the man who brought Asian sweets to Bradford when he first began working in the Lumb Lane Sweet Centre,” he said.

“Following that success, he opened his own store here on Leeds Road and today he is continuing  his work with Cafe Zoya.

“His commitment to continue serving up sweets, his passion for the job and reluctance to retire, means his unique artisan skills can still be enjoyed by customers today.

“People travel from all over the country to taste Uncle Akbar’s sweets and he has earned the respect of all communities.”

Uncle Akbar has recently been joined by his own sons, Junaid ‘Junior’ and Rashad Akbar, in the family business as they aim to continue their father’s legacy for future generations to enjoy.

With big shoes to fill, the brothers are determined to keep the family recipes alive and well in the heart of Bradford.

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Lucky added: “With Cafe Zoya, Uncle Akbar has passed the baton on to his sons and they are more than capable of continuing his proud legacy.

“We are delighted to bring the nation’s favourite Asian sweets to customers and will continue to do so for a long, long time.”

In addition to their famed Asian sweet boxes, diners can also take advantage of a range of patisserie desserts, prepared fresh everyday by Zoya’s own patisserie chef.

East meets West at Cafe Zoya as British favourites are served up alongside Asian delights, ensuring every diner has something they can enjoy.

Customers can even book the well-established restaurant to cater for their special events, with outdoor catering available for eye-catching food displays, perfect for weddings and birthdays.

So, whether you just want a quick bite to eat, or an array of sweets from around the world, visit Cafe Zoya today and make every moment a Zoya moment.

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Contact details

Address:

383 Leeds Rd,

Bradford

BD3 9LY      

Tel: 01274 305333      

Opening times:

Monday-Sunday 8am-midnight

Eliminating poverty, one family at a time

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empowering communities sewing (800x534)

Bradford charity working around the world

From providing the basic living necessities to supporting children and adults into securing a better future, Empowering Communities seems to be stopping at nothing to achieve its goals.

They started with providing food to the starving, followed by shelter for the homeless and medical aid for the sick. Now Empowering Communities has begun its next big venture, setting up training academies to help the unemployable become employed.

The biggest issue in the employment sector in developing countries like Pakistan, India or Bangladesh is not a lack of jobs, but a lack of skilled workers to fill the jobs.

This then pushes people into either hard labour or resorting to begging. A common misconception is that people want to beg because they are lazy. Studies show however that the vast majority of people who are begging, only do so because they are simply unable to find a job.

empowering communities worker (576x361)

Many of them will gladly work any job they are given, but if they simply are not up to the standards of what an employer requires, then one cannot expect a very long career with such an employer.

It is precisely this challenge which Empowering Communities have now taken on, with the introduction of the first of many training centres.

Ranging from sewing classes to carpentry and bricklaying and even IT skills - learning to use MS office among other programs, Empowering Communities will be opening training centres to help those who are struggling to find jobs, become better equipped and much more capable of finding secure, gainful employment so that they may have a means of building their own future.

With a target of 20 classrooms per centre, providing free training to anyone of working age, Empowering Communities is working alongside its sister organisation based in Pakistan - Empowering Communities Foundation.

Together they aim to ensure everything is covered, from basic numeracy and literacy skills to driver training, always with a clear aim to help as many people as possible to enter the workforce and regain their pride, their freedom and take control of their own destiny.

empowering communities ict room (492x369)

The current phase of training centres will be opening in many towns and cities across Pakistan including Jhelum, Mirpur, Attock, Faisalabad and Gujarkhan, and there will be classes from 10am to 10pm everyday.

Empowering Communities will be pushing to create an employable workforce which no longer needs to depend on handouts and together aim to eliminate poverty one family at a time. Your donations are needed more than ever to achieve this.

Training academies along with staff and resources will be funded by Empowering Communities through your donations and you can help today by either volunteering or making a   donation.

You can call the office on       01274 502 750 or email info@empoweringcommunities.org to offer your help or setup a direct debit today.

Alternatively, text EMPOWER to 70660 from your phone and give £3 today towards Empowering Communities.

Bradford family still missing: Appeals continue to trace family-of-seven

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DISAPPEARED: The Ameen family have not been  seen since 5th October and are feared to be travelling to join extremists abroad

DISAPPEARED: The Ameen family have not been
seen since 5th October and are feared to be travelling to join extremists abroad

The relative of a Bradford family, who are believed to have fled the UK to join extremists in Syria, has said he cannot understand why any parents would take their children to a ‘warzone’.

Arshid Siddique is the first cousin of both Imran and Farzana Ameen, who were both reported missing earlier this month alongside their five children, aged between five and 15.

Mr Siddique told reporters that Farzana had told the extended family that her husband had got a new job in Dubai around two weeks ago. However, days later, they left without saying ‘goodbye’ and no contact was made again to see how they were settling in.

“My worst fears are they are going to a war zone, not for them, they are adults, it's for the kids,” Mr Siddique said.

“I can't understand it, I have three kids of my own, it beggars belief [why] any mother or father would want to take their children to a war zone, for whatever reason.”

Mr Siddique says he was not aware of any plans from the family to travel to join extremists, yet did say in hindsight that there were clues something was amiss.

Recalling how the family’s eldest daughter, aged 15, had been removed from school to receive home education, he continued: “We should have seen the signs. Even at that time there was something telling me something was not right. I never thought it was anything to do with what she has now done.

“I hope and pray for their safe return, they will face the music but it is not about them, it's about the kids.”

It was announced last week by West Yorkshire Police that the family had purchased one way tickets to Turkey, sparking fears that they are travelling to join Islamic State.

West Yorkshire Police Assistant Chief Constable, Russ Foster, confirmed the purchase and the likelihood of the family travelling to a location seen by many as a ‘gateway’ for Syria and Iraq.

“We would urge anyone with information about the family’s whereabouts to come forward and speak to police so the family can safely return to the UK,” he added.

“Any piece of information, no matter how small, could help the UK or overseas’ authorities to locate the family so that they can be safely returned home to their loved ones.”

Gov-ing the extra mile

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FUNDRAISING: A cheque is presented to the Chitrakoot Project UK from members of the Govindbhai Foundation

FUNDRAISING: A cheque is presented to the Chitrakoot Project UK from members of the Govindbhai Foundation

Family foundation raises £12,000 for local causes

A charitable foundation in Bradford, established by a local family in memory of their late father, surpassed their latest landmark of donations this past week as they hit the £120,000 mark.

The Govindbhai Foundation was set-up nine years ago by the Mistry family and every year hosts fundraising events for selected causes, locally and internationally.

This year, Bradford-based Fulfil the Wish and Chitrakoot Project UK, were selected with each charity receiving a cheque worth £6,000 last week.

Set up by a team of nine brothers and sisters, alongside their mum, spouses, children and grandchildren, the Govindbhai Foundation is a unique family-run operation.

Hosting events throughout the year to raise money, fundraisers held a number of initiatives over the past 12 months including an Abba tribute night, a charity auction, a champagne reception and a casino night.

SUPPORT: Every year, the family-run foundation raises money for two charities, pictured here with representatives from Bradford’s Fulfil the Wish

SUPPORT: Every year, the family-run foundation raises money for two charities, pictured here with representatives from Bradford’s Fulfil the Wish

Eventually raising £12,000, the money was shared equally between the two selected causes.

Foundation spokesman, Harkishan Mistry said he was delighted to see so many people come out to support the foundation.

“Our ninth annual dinner dance was a fantastic evening with 250 people coming along,” he said.

FAMILY: Amongst the fundraisers this year were 10-year-old Elina and seven-year-old Hannah, who completed two of Yorkshire’s Three Peaks to raise over £700

FAMILY: Amongst the fundraisers this year were 10-year-old Elina and seven-year-old Hannah, who completed two of Yorkshire’s Three Peaks to raise over £700

“This year we took a new approach to fundraising. In addition to our main event, six members of the family took on the challenge of the Yorkshire Three Peaks climb.

“Two of the younger members, 10-year-old Elina and seven-year-old Hannah, completed two peaks and raised over £700.

“It's so satisfying to see the whole family getting involved and best of all, we've spent nine years successfully fundraising - while having fun.

“I'm delighted that once again we managed to raise so much money. It'll make a huge difference to children's lives.”

Fulfil the Wish is a registered charity, which was founded in 2000 by Mary Appleton, a registered nurse, to provide activity and sightseeing holidays for children and young people with disabilities and complex health needs.

Speaking about what the donation means to the families involved, Ms Appleton said: “On behalf of the charity and the children who will benefit I would like to say a massive thank you to the GB Foundation for their donation of £6000.

“The money will go directly towards our 2016 Disneyland holiday, the total cost of which is around £21,000 each year, as the cost for each disabled child is around £400.

“This holiday enables children who have lifelong disabilities the opportunity to experience the dream of Disneyland; children who are not eligible for support from any of the major wish charities as their disability is lifelong as opposed to life limiting, but living with their disability each and every day.”

Likewise, Naresh Sharma, Chairman of the Chitrakoot Project UK, which helps children in rural Indian communities, thanked the group for their support.

“We are extremely thankful to GB Foundation for this donation which will make a huge difference to the lives of the children we will now be able to treat,” she added.

‘Kill speed, save lives’

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CAMPAIGNING: Amjad Malik (left) is gathering signatures across Bradford in an attempt to get speed cameras installed on three major roads

CAMPAIGNING: Amjad Malik (left) is gathering signatures across Bradford in an attempt to get speed cameras installed on three major roads

Bradford family launch petition to protect city’s drivers

A bereaved father, whose son was tragically killed in a car accident last year, has launched his own petition in an attempt to keep other drivers safe on Bradford’s busiest roads.

Amjad Malik, from Eccleshill, is attempting to gather 2,000 signatures in support of installing speed cameras on Leeds Road, Killinghall Road and Barkerend Road.

On 14th September 2014, Mr Malik’s 15-year-old son, Saliq, was involved in a serious crash on Gilpin Street, whereby the car he was travelling in collided with a metal pole and wall.

Despite being rushed to hospital, the teenager sadly passed away and now Mr Malik and his family want to ensure no other families suffer a similar loss.

“So far we have nearly 300 signatures online and in paper form and are on track to meet our 26th October target,” he said.

“It is extremely important that we do what we can to stop the loss of life due to avoidable car accidents in these accident black spots across Bradford.

ACCIDENTS: Leeds Road is one ‘accident black spot’ Mr Malik hopes to see speed cameras installed on

ACCIDENTS: Leeds Road is one ‘accident black spot’ Mr Malik hopes to see speed cameras installed on

“Speed cameras will slow down drivers who are speeding in excess of 50 to 70mph on some of these roads at night, and ultimately they could save a life.”

The speed camera petition has been arranged by Mr Malik and his family via their recently launched project – Consequences of Reckless Driving (CORD).

Operating out of a base on Manningham Road, they aim to raise awareness around the issues of dangerous driving by speaking with the community through schools, community centres and other institutions.

Mr Malik adds: “The petition is part of CORD and is one of the first things we hope to achieve as a real organisation.

“Since Saliq’s crash last year, around 20 to 25 serious road traffic accidents have happened on these busy roads and we are trying to stop this trend.

“So far we have established connections with local schools and are hoping to speak with mosque committees in an attempt to spread the message.

“I would ask everyone to sign the petition and help make our roads safer to drive on.”

If you would like to sign the petition online, please visit: epetition.bradford.public-i.tv/epetition_core/view/ThinkSpeedThinkSaliq

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

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.

Kids putting other’s first

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TREATS: Eight-year-old Zidaan Arshad prepares to hand over a mass of chocolate to the Salvation Army

TREATS: Eight-year-old Zidaan Arshad prepares to hand over a mass of chocolate to the Salvation Army

Family foodbank to help underprivileged in Bradford

A Bradford family will be hosting their own foodbank starting this Easter after their children said they wanted to help local families who had fallen on hard times.

What was initially the idea of 14-year-old, Sara Mahmood, quickly spread across her family until the idea of a fully operational project was set up last weekand her selfless vision became reality.

The first food parcels were purchased in bulk by her father Arshad Mahmood and his family who handed over the goods to the Salvation Army on Wednesday 1st April.

Amongst the parcels, which will feed between 15 and 16 families, was a host of chocolate treats in the form of Easter eggs and Easter bunnies. In total 40 children will receive the sweets to coincide with the Easter festival.

Mr Mahmood explained further why he wanted to get involved with local charities having given to other causes in Bradford in recent years.

GIVING: Arshad Mahmood met with Salvation Army Captain, Wayne Price, after purchasing food parcels and setting up a foodbank

GIVING: Arshad Mahmood met with Salvation Army Captain, Wayne Price, after purchasing food parcels and setting up a foodbank

“Running my own business gives me little time to volunteer at charities so I try to work under the idea of giving what I can financially if I can’t give the time,” he said.

“I was proud when Sara said she wanted to get help some local families and so we got in touch with the Bradford Children’s Centre who then put us on to the Salvation Army.

“Hopefully these food items will help some underprivileged families and other businesses will follow suit and hold similar events in the future.”

Wayne Price, a Salvation Army Captain, accepted the food parcels on behalf of the families who he said would benefit greatly from the generous offering.

“The fantastic thing about this donation is that it is from a family-run business which is showing other companies that money can be reinvested into the community,” he said.

“The food will be a massive help to so many families who have fallen on hard times and to show them that people in Bradford care about them is the most important thing we can achieve.”

Mr Price explained how the number of service users at the charity had grown recently since the disbandment of crisis loans.

In recent times the number of people speaking with the Salvation Army, who are on benefits but instead struggling to live off their minimum wage, have been asking for help.

If you would like to donate to the family’s foodbank, you can drop off your goods at the offices of Auto Prestige at 2 Rosse Street, Bradford.