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Islamic Relief UK warns of a tsunami of poverty in the UK due to pandemic and calls for the £20-a-week universal credit uplift to be immediately reinstated 

The charity is concerned about rising levels of poverty as it plans to distribute more than 8000 food packs and 20,000 cooked meals this winter 

As Islamic Relief UK plans to distribute food through 14 partners this winter to some of the most vulnerable, it is calling on the UK government to increase universal credit payments as it warns of poverty in the country worsening in 2022 with the ongoing pandemic.

The charity’s partners in the UK are reporting a significant increase in the use of food banks, more calls for help compared to the last two lockdowns and the cost-of-living affecting families who could be £1,000 worse off this year.

As well as calling on the UK government to immediately reinstate the £20-a-week universal credit uplift to help families who are severely impacted, Islamic Relief UK is urging for the uplift to be made permanent.

According to recent figures by the Legatum Institute, another 700,000 people were plunged into poverty during the pandemic, taking the figure to more than 15 million.

Many people have been hit hard including low-income families, the homeless, those suffering from domestic abuse, asylum seekers and refugees who were already struggling to feed themselves.

Soaring prices and inflation across all of life’s essentials have severely impacted families’ cost of living and UK households could be £1,000 worse-off in 2022, according to Resolution Foundation analysis.

Many families who lost their incomes during the pandemic have had to resort to relying on food banks.

Islamic Relief UK is working with Mosques such as Green Lane Masjid in Birmingham, who have seen increasing numbers of users to their food bank during the pandemic. Masjid Al Falah in the same city have also seen a 30 per cent rise in households they are having to provide food to in just the last six weeks.

Newham Community Project in London has reported a significant rise in food bank usage in the last few weeks. They say the pandemic response has left a cohort of people – with no recourse to public funds – high and dry with no help, forcing them to resort to charities and loan sharks for help to overcome destitution.

In Leicester, where Islamic Relief will be working with partner One Roof, levels of local food insecurity are shocking, according to the University of Sheffield’s research into local food insecurity, 3.67 per cent of adults suffered from hunger,11.46 per cent struggled to access food and 12.10 per cent were worried about not having enough food.

Services that were available during the first two lockdowns have been temporarily stopped or closed fuelling the crisis.

Islamic Relief partner, Give a Gift in West Yorkshire, which helps disadvantaged people, has received more calls for help compared to the first two lockdowns due to a shortage of services. They have also seen asylum seekers live off £5 a day and met families prioritising eating or heating as they struggle to pay their bills.

Islamic Relief UK will be distributing food packs this winter through these partners as well as Sufra NW, Cambridge Central Mosque, Blackall Mosque, East London Mosque, Masjid Al Hikmah, Crookston Community Group and a few football club foundations including Celtic FC, Aston Villa FC and Liverpool FC.

Food packs will contain dry food items like pasta, rice as well as soup and will go towards supporting families with relief during the cold winter months.

The charity will also support the Felix Project in London with its unique kitchen which will collect good, surplus food and cook 20,000 meals to deliver culturally sensitive meals to the communities in East London. Specially trained chefs will help train cooks to make ethnic dishes that can be stored for two to three days and then heated.

Tufail Hussain, Director of Islamic Relief UK said:

“We are seeing a crisis intensifying across the UK, families are being plunged into poverty at an alarming rate. The safety net of services that were in place during the beginning of the pandemic are no longer available and many more people are suffering as a result.  

To help bring much-needed relief during the cold winter months, we are working with life-changing partners across the country to help feed some of the families in need. 

As we emerge from the pandemic it is important to support those that need it most, not doing so would damage families basic living standards, their health and opportunities. The UK government must immediately reinstate the £20-a-week universal credit uplift. It has been done before and can be done again to help the most vulnerable.” 



Notes to editors

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About Islamic Relief 

Islamic Relief is a faith-inspired, development and humanitarian agency working to transform and save the lives of some of the most vulnerable people in over 40 countries. Islamic Relief assists people according to need and does not discriminate in any way.

Set up in Birmingham in 1984 by a group of volunteers, we have assisted over 117 million people all over the world. We’re saving lives and empowering people to lift themselves out of poverty in over 40 countries – from Bangladesh to Bosnia, Pakistan to Palestine, Kenya to Kosovo. Islamic Relief is on the ground in some of the world’s most dangerous and difficult places – including Syria and Yemen – strengthening the most marginalised communities to withstand conflict and natural disasters and to build a brighter future. We also support vulnerable people in the UK in partnership with local charities and organisations.

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