The deputy leader of Bradford council, Imran Khan and Cllrs Hassan Khan and Rizwana Jamil got their hands dirty in Bradford last Saturday as part of a community litter pick in BD3. This was part of Charity Week, a national fundraising initiative largely run by university Islamic Societies across the country, raising money for the development agency, Islamic Relief UK. It is also an opportunity for community building.
The councillors joined a team of Islamic Relief volunteers at a community litter pick in Seymour Park in BD3, an area that is prone to litter and fly-tipping.
Councillor Rizwana Jamil, chair of the regeneration and environment scrutiny committee of Bradford Council, said, “Fly tipping is such a huge problem in this local area and it was so inspiring to see these young volunteers coming out to clear up Seymour Park that I simply had to come down and get involved! It was freezing cold on the day but we had a lot of fun. We filled up hundreds of black bags with bottles, pans and we even found an old bed! I’m extremely grateful to Islamic Relief and the volunteers for helping us to clean up a local area which is used by children. It has made such a difference.”
Altaf Hussain, Islamic Relief’s Community Fundraising Officer for the North, took part in the event and said:
“Charity Week is not just about fundraising. It’s also about helping out in the local community and this event epitomises this. It was great that Bradford Council came on board and lent their support. The councillors didn’t just turn up; they got their hands dirty and helped the volunteers to clear the litter.”
Islamic Relief volunteer, Muriam Bi (28) who lives near the park, helped to organise the event. A former student at Carlton Bolling College, Muriam added:
“It was great to be involved in this event; making the park a cleaner and safer place for all those who come here, including many young children. We hope this will be the first of many similar initiatives.”
Over in York, university students raised over £2,000 at a charity auction. Over £1,300 was raised for one single cake. There was a collective bid for £1,000 but this was increased to £1,300 after the president of the Islamic Society offered to shave his head for an extra £300. The University of York is on course to double the £4,300 they raised last year, with other fundraising events including a Kinder Scout trek in the Peak District, a fashion show, quiz night and bake sales in Heslington Church and York Mosque.
Aminah Abdelhamid, a third year nursing student at York University and Charity Week organiser, said:
“We were delighted to play our part in Charity Week. We don’t give enough time to think about those who are less fortunate than ourselves so it’s very important for us to raise as much funds as we can. It’s great that this is an international initiative and we are part of something bigger; with students taking part across the country and the world.
As students we are busy but it’s important for me to spend my spare time wisely doing something good. People need our help and I want to be able to make a difference in any way I can.”
Charity Week began as an annual volunteer-led campaign launched by a group of students in London back in 2003. Over the years it has raised over six million pounds.
The founder of Charity Week, Dr Wajid Akhter, a former student volunteer himself said:
“Charity Week isn’t just a fundraising initiative. There are many of those around. Instead, in an age of increasing polarisation, mistrust and conflict, Charity Week is a practical example of what happens when people decide that they will put aside their differences and work together to build a better, more hopeful world.”
All the money raised during Charity Week, goes towards supporting children’s projects run by Islamic Relief around the world. The projects are wide and varied and include building schools in Mali, refurbishing orphanages in Syria and helping children to go school in Afghanistan.