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Tuesday, May 24, 2022

Manningham charity supports refugees and asylum seekers through the pandemic

This charity that helps the most vulnerable in Bradford’s inner city is gearing up to welcome more refugees and asylum seekers into the city.

A Manningham-based charity has acted as a lifeline to some of Bradford’s most isolated and hard to reach communities during the pandemic.

Bradford’s Inspire Futures Foundation has given out food parcels every week to some of the most vulnerable families over the past 18 months. The charity was one of the first organisations in the district to help people with food and other necessary items due to the pandemic, beginning support in early March 2020.

The charity was formally registered in 2015, with founder Mushtaq Hussain doing unofficial community and charity work before then. He said: “The charity was registered six years ago in 2015. I noticed there was a shortage of outreach work in Manningham, so I decided to start the project. For the work to continue and progress, we had to get registered as a charity so that is what I did.

The charity was one of the first in Bradford to give help to people impacted by the Coronavirus last year. 

“The charity has three main objectives, to enhance education, develop communities, and relieve poverty.

“In Manningham, we want to promote the importance of mainstream education to the kids in the area, so that they attend homework support groups or get involved with group sport such as football or cricket.”

The charity also works with partners internationally, donating food and providing emergency relief to eradicate poverty globally by providing long-term sustainability projects, supporting orphans, providing water, educational support, and community development. Most recently during Ramadan, they provided 180 hot meals to people in Athens’ Refugee Camp. The camp currently has 2300 residents of various nationalities.

Throughout the pandemic, the charity has been distributing weekly and monthly packs of essentials. Since the first lockdown, families in Bradford, and indeed across Britain, have struggled with putting food on the table, due to job loss, cuts to income through furlough, the Covid-19 job retention scheme that saw a 20% cut to wages, and wait times of around five weeks to get first Universal Credit payments.

Research from the Trussell Trust, Britain’s leading food bank charity, states that more than 2.5 million food parcels were given out between 1 April 2020 and 31 March 2021, a 33% increase than the year before, with 980,000 of these packages going out to children. These figures only account for the parcels that were given out by the approximate 1,200 food banks in the Trussell Trust network, not accounting for small and independent food banks such as Inspire Futures Foundation, which means the number of people using these services is much higher.

The charity also provides international humanitarian aid.

In 2019, Bradford District ranked 5th most income deprived and 6th most employment deprived local authority in England, with 22% of children living below the poverty line, with people living in Manningham and central Keighley being the most income deprived areas in the district.

Mr Hussain said: “The challenges faced by those living in poverty have increased following the pandemic and we have had a huge demand for our services. We have been providing weekly and monthly food packs to families, many of whom have young children but living on nominal support. We are grateful to our donors and volunteers who help us deliver such amazing work. ”

Mr Hussain created the charity after working as a community development worker at an ethnic minority business association and as a lead worker in a community centre in Manningham. Today, the foundation has a team of roughly 20 volunteers, with a core team of around five to six people carrying out the daily work.

Inspire Futures Foundation works with many partners to provide their weekly hot food provisions and food bank delivery service. Promoting community cohesion, the charity works with Living Lights Christian outreach, a church-based in Keighley, to generate much-needed items for donation. The charity also works with local schools, community centres such as the Khidmat Centres, businesses, and supermarkets to supply the food bank.

The charity helps anyone need in Manningham but particularly looks out for refugees and asylum seekers. Asylum seekers in the UK are not legally allowed to work, or receive most benefits, instead of being given £39.63 for each person in a household to pay for things such as food, clothing, and toiletries per week. “A lot of refugees and asylum seekers in the area, quite literally have nothing”, says Mr Hussain. “These people may not even have basic supplies such as bread or milk to make breakfast, which is why we will help them out and drop off these kinds of things.

Businesses, community centres, and supermarkets help supply some of the food donated to families. 

“There are other charities and organisations in Bradford that are helping these communities, but there is just not enough. For example, they might need support with language, adjusting to British culture, and having specific dietary requirements. We make sure that all these needs are being met, and they are being provided with food that is suitable for them.”

“I’m glad that we are here as a charity to help people out, but it is absolutely devasting that we have this type of poverty on our doorstep. The people in Bradford’s inner city are some of Britain’s most deprived communities, not even just in the district or in the North. This is the reason why we exist, as we are trying to make a change.”

Mr Hussain also mentions that the takeback of the £20 a week Universal Credit boost, a provision that was introduced to help reduce the impact of the Coronavirus to people on benefits, and the proposed increase to National Insurance which will reduce take-home pay, is going to impact the people in Manningham further, increasing the reliance on food banks. He said: “The cuts to Universal Credit and the increase in National insurance is just going to mean that the poorest in society are going to be hardest hit again.”

The charity is also gearing up to help deliver aid to incoming communities from Afghanistan, who have fled the country due to the Taliban takeover in recent weeks. They will be donating food, clothes, sanitary items, and any other necessities that will be needed to settle into Bradford.

The charity, which operates through Facebook, is always looking for support.

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