Community cohesion during Ramadan – and beyond

Community cohesion during Ramadan – and beyond

THE ORGANISERS of a charity project aimed at bringing the community together by feeding the homeless and needy during Ramadan say they want to make it even bigger and better.

Saj Hussain, the founder of charity Purpose of Life (PoL), kick-started the initiative at the start of May in a bid to help feed those most in need throughout the Muslim holy month.

As well as laying on a weekly meal at the PKWA Centre in Batley, Saj and his volunteers also offer free taxi rides to and from the events plus free haircuts.

From the first function to the final one this Sunday (June 9), they have seen the attendance grow from around 50 people to over 100.

And because the events have been so successful, Saj, a 37-year-old engineer from Heckmondwike, now wants to organise one every month.

He said: “Community cohesion is the most important thing that I think we’re lacking in today’s society and it was something I really wanted to focus on, bringing everyone together regardless of what your beliefs are, what colour you are, what political groups you follow, it’s all about focussing on what’s common rather than what the differences are.

“It’s a people initiative, it’s open to everybody. I believe a lot of problems that happen are due to ignorance, people assuming things about one group and not the other.

“It is just a way of putting our cards on the table, coming in and getting to know us and what we’re about, why we’re doing Ramadan.

“It’s been brilliant, our intention was initially only doing it over Ramadan – but it’s been such a success we’re planning on doing one once a month.”

Saj is helped by a band of volunteers and trustees, and supported by the likes of Asda Dewsbury and Tesco Batley. The PKWA Centre allow the group to use their premises for free, and Batley’s Star Coaches also provide free pick-up points for people attending.

Saj and one of the charity’s trustees, Yahya Seedat, both have demanding full-time jobs but say they “wish there was a way we could work less so we could dedicate more time to the project”.

And they have visions of providing more than just a meal for people who are struggling.

Yahya, a 43-year-old lawyer from Dewsbury, said: “It would be good if we had a base where people can come instead of talking over the phone. 

“Then people can walk into the office and say ‘they’ve got x and y issues, could you point us in the right direction?’

“We want to build a team where we can bring in additional services.

“For us it’s not really that we’re the experts in different areas, our thing is to make sure that we can act as a voice for them, if there are issues we’ll make sure they see the right person.”

Saj and Yahya also want to expand the project further than North Kirklees.

Yahya said: “We had wanted to focus on Dewsbury, Batley, Heckmondwike, but word has got round and it goes back to the fact that there’s a real necessity and we need other avenues to help people out. 

“The need is there and hopefully we can partner up with people from other areas that will help us out.”

The charity has already worked with the likes of Fusion Housing in Dewsbury, Batley Food Bank and the Community Awareness Programme (CAP) in Wakefield in a bid to help more people.

This Sunday sees the final event of the month and everyone is welcome to join the special Eid party from 6pm-9pm at the PKWA Centre on Track Road.

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