Emily Wight

Written by

May 20, 2020


The Covid-19 pandemic is devastating. A global pandemic, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), there are over 4.5 million confirmed cases of coronavirus globally and over 307,000 people have sadly died.

Here in the UK, 243,695 people tested for the virus have been confirmed positive. And 34,636 people of these have sadly died (all stats from 17 May 2020).

As with any crisis, those who are already vulnerable are certainly at higher risk. The number of deaths continues to rise, as does the number of confirmed cases. Many communities are finding themselves in vulnerable situations financially, emotionally and without access to essential support.

That’s why we’ve changed the way we’re working to support communities in need in the safest, most effective way possible.

Across the globe in areas such as Syria, Yemen and Gaza, we’re also supporting communities in critical need by providing:

  • Food packs and grants
  • Hygiene kits including hand gloves, masks, toilet rolls, disinfectants and hand sanitisers
  • Awareness-raising materials on how to keep safe

We’ve also upscaled our work with local community organisations and services here in the UK to support people in need.

Here’s how your donations are helping us to serve some of the most vulnerable communities both here in the UK and across the globe.

1. Syria: Supporting medical facilities

Coronavirus
Sorting medical supplies in one of the 82 health centres we’re supporting.

In the north-west of Syria, large numbers of internally displaced people (IDPs) are in critical need of support.

In this area, people have often been repeatedly displaced due to conflict and are struggling to survive on a daily basis without adequate food, shelter and medical care.

We’re therefore continuing to support people in need across north-west Syria and have adapted our work to further protect communities against the risks and effects of Covid-19.

Right now, we’re supporting 82 hospitals and medical centres in the north-west to help around 200,000 people.

To support this vulnerable community, we’re:

  • Providing medicines and supplies: We’re distributing over 100,000 pieces of medical supplies and equipment, such as masks, gloves and sterilising wipes to 50 health facilities. We’re ensuring that we have plenty of critical supplies of antipyretics, bronchodilators, nebulisers and nebulization masks, which we’ve provided to more than 30 health facilities so far
  • Raising awareness: We’re distributing brochures on Covid-19 prevention, detection and treatment across the 82 health facilities we support. We’re also supplying TV screens to play Covid-19 awareness videos in key medical facilities
  • Giving training: We’re providing specific training on appropriate disinfection procedures and measures to limit Covid-19 transmission for staff across 20 key health facilities
  • Offering financial support: We’re paying the salaries of 150 doctors and nurses
  • Running mobile emergency units: We’ve converted trucks into ambulances and transportable operating rooms in order to take healthcare to where it’s needed most

Our priority is to ensure that communities have enough medical supplies to alleviate Covid-19 symptoms should any cases arise.

2. Yemen: Providing critical all-round care

Coronavirus
The Islamic Relief team assessing potential quarantine facilities.

With ongoing conflict having devastated local communities, heavy rains on 21 April added extra pressure on families already struggling to survive.

The weather affected almost 15,000 people living in camps for internally displaced people (IDPs) across southern and central Yemen.

Alhamdulillah, we already operate in 17 of the 22 governorates and are providing support to 156 health facilities across the country. Working with the World Food Programme (WFP) we also deliver food support to more than two million people every month.

With the onset of Covid-19, we’ve been supporting the healthcare system and expanding existing programmes and partnerships to boost local communities’ ability to be prepared and respond to new cases of the virus.

Our work includes:

  • Awareness-raising on health and safety standards: We’ve been sharing Covid-19 awareness messages locally, whilst installing hand sanitation facilities in all food distribution sites run by Islamic Relief and WFP
  • Training: We’re providing training on infection prevention and control to staff in quarantine centres
  • Food and hygiene care: Working with United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and UNICEF, we’ve given ready-to-eat meals and hygiene kits to over 600 people in quarantine centres in the capital, Sanaa, and the city of Dhammar. We’ve also supplied hygiene kits to women
  • Financial support: We’re giving monthly financial support to select groups of key frontline health workers
  • Isolation support: We’re conducting needs assessments of possible isolation centres in key areas

The needs of communities in Yemen are incredibly high given the ongoing conflict, the recent heavy rain and Covid-19. We’re therefore working to ensure that families in need have access to all the care they critically need.

3. Gaza: Distributing food for local communities

Coronavirus
Preparing food for distribution at quarantine centres in Gaza.

Even before the crisis, 52% of the population in Gaza was living below the poverty line. Fears are therefore high that the closure of schools, markets, cafes, and shops will have devastating effects, robbing many families of their only source of income and causing hunger to skyrocket.

With the Covid-19 lockdown, we can no longer hold public iftars for people in need including orphans and their families, where we’d not only provide nutritious meals but also host fun activities and games.

However, we’re still providing essential support to families in need by providing:

  • Financial support: We’re giving 6,840 vulnerable people – daily workers and those who no longer have an income – cash vouchers to purchase essential food and hygiene items
  • Food aid: We’re distributing emergency food packs to 16,500 people
  • Medical care: We’re providing medical support, hygiene kits, and Covid-19 awareness materials to quarantine centres, hospitals and medical centres
  • Public safety: We’re helping to disinfect public places such as hospitals and schools to help reduce the risk of infection

This Ramadan, we’ve distributed 9,816 food vouchers to allow 56,720 people to purchase the items they most need such as beans, eggs, rice, lentils, sugar and cooking oil. With each voucher, a family of five has enough food to last two weeks.

What’s more, we’ve also provided around 14,000 hot meals since the beginning of Ramadan to around 1,200 people in quarantine centres across Gaza.

4. Protecting British families against hardship

Coronavirus
Not having money for food is a growing concern during this pandemic.

With the added financial insecurity of the Coronavirus pandemic, families already struggling to make ends meet now find themselves worrying about paying rent and buying food. Muslim households in particular are struggling.

In fact, 1 in 2 Muslim households in the UK are living in poverty and deprivation, compared to 1 in 5 of the general UK population.

Now with the current pandemic, a staggering 58% of Muslims are worried about paying bills over the next six months. That’s compared to an average 33% of people across the national population.

Small businesses have collapsed and some staff have been furloughed. What’s more, only 19.8% of Muslims in Britain are in full-time employment, compared to more than 34.9% in the general population.

In the current crisis, these problems will only get worse.

That’s why we’ve teamed up with the National Zakat Foundation to support vulnerable people across the UK during this difficult period. We’ve donated £150,000 towards their Hardship Relief Fund, which will help nearly 600 people.

Successful applicants who’ve applied to the fund will be able to buy essential and urgent items such as food, toiletries and nappies.

Just one of the many people you’re helping is Muhammad.

Having lost his construction job due to the pandemic, Muhammad found himself fighting a losing battle to pay his rent and provide for his wife and two young children.

Forced to spend two days without any energy supply or food, Muhammad finally got the help he needed thanks to NZF and Islamic Relief.

5. Food banks in north-west London

Coronavirus
Meals prepared for vulnerable people in Brent (London).

In north-west London, in one of Brent’s most disadvantaged neighbourhoods, the Sufra Community Hub provides a life-line for people in crisis – including families living in extreme poverty and people who are vulnerable, homeless and socially isolated.

With the added pressures of coronavirus, Sufra NW London is using our funds to distribute 7,000 food parcels to vulnerable people in the local community.

Our funding is also helping to support the running costs of the van that delivers these parcels, and also the cost of warehouse storage for the food.

Some of the people attending the community kitchen were not only struggling financially, but were socially isolated even before lockdown. For example, John* would never miss SUFRA’s Friday night meal. This was his only opportunity to get out of the house and meet people.

He was therefore devastated to hear that Sufra had to close their doors because of the virus.

However, Sufra is now able to send John a meal to his home, whilst Sufra’s advice workers are calling him regularly so he has people to talk to.

He really appreciates these phone calls and knowing that Sufra can help him with other issues – such as the difficulties he’s experienced paying his utility bills and rent.

Advice workers are also there to assist their clients with general support to ease their anxieties during this stressful time, as well as housing and benefit advice.

6. Assisting vulnerable asylum-seekers in Leeds

Coronavirus
Distributing food packages to vulnerable people in Leeds.

With no access to benefits, many asylum-seeking families are struggling during the coronavirus crisis.

That’s why we’re supporting the charity Give a Gift to help disadvantaged people, including asylum seekers, based in Leeds.

We’ve provided £21,900 to enable the charity to help over 900 people, distributing food packs and vouchers. We’re delighted that Give a Gift has already started safely distributing food packs door-to-door to some of the most vulnerable people in Leeds and Bradford.

Each food packs contain essential items such as oil, teabags, sugar, rice, flour, pasta, lentils, chickpeas, tinned tomatoes, halal meat and dates. The pack will feed a family of six for a week.

What’s more, food vouchers are also being provided to enable families to buy extra items from local supermarkets.

Especially given the increase in demand during Ramadan, families feel reassured knowing they will receive a weekly food supply suitable to their needs.

7. Ensuring safe sacred facilities in London

Coronavirus
Muslim burials require a range of services including ghusl (washing facilities).

With the tragic increase in deaths during this pandemic, mosques and Muslim burial services are in demand to provide safe appropriate services.

During this pandemic, we’re therefore working with a London-based mosque to support their Muslim burial service.

Our financial support is helping to:

  • Provide PPE equipment and safe disposal units: This is helping the mosque handle the increased numbers of janazas (funerals) in the safest way possible, as advised by medics, Islamic scholars and other advisory bodies
  • Repurposing funeral washing facilities: This will allow for a better ventilated, more functional and spacious janaza ghusl area (where bodies are washed) in line with specific Covid-19 criteria, as advised by Islamic scholars and institutions, including the Muslim Council of Britain and the National Burial Council
  • Operate a bigger mobile mortuary: The mosque has bought a mobile morgue facility to accommodate increasing numbers of deceased bodies

This critical support will enable the mosque to carry out Islamic funerals in the safest way, all in line with Islamic criteria.

8. Critical support for London hospital

coronavirus
We're supportng Chelsea and Westminster Hospital NHS Foundation during the current pandemic.

With more patients requiring hospital admission as a result of the Covid-19 outbreak, we’re working with CW+, the official charity of the Chelsea and Westminster Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, to help support facilities in their newly-expanded Intensive Care Unit ICU).

This includes providing financial support to fund syringe pumps, which will deliver precise amounts of fluid and medicines to patients in the ICU at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital.

We are also helping to fund seven portable workstations, which will allow healthcare practitioners in ICU to access all patients’ integrated care systems at any bedside, at any time. This will also ensure the flexibility to move between static and newly-converted intensive care areas.

Thank you for your generous support. It’s thanks to you that we’ve been able to adapt so quickly and reach out to those in need.

 

Your Zakat and Sadaqah are critically helping us to save lives. To find out more about our work supporting vulnerable communities against Covid-19, please download a copy of our Global Response Report. Thank you.

 

Help vulnerable people here in the UK and across the globe during the Covid-19 pandemic. Donate to our Coronavirus appeal and help save lives.

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