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Over half of UK Muslims will struggle to pay bills during coronavirus crisis

Islamic Relief UK to partner with National Zakat Foundation (NZF) to help support poorer communities

With half of Muslim households in the UK living in poverty and deprivation compared to 18% of the general UK population (1), Islamic Relief UK is partnering with the National Zakat Foundation (NZF) to give financial support to desperate families struggling through the coronavirus crisis.

A staggering 58% of Muslims are worried about paying bills over the next six months due to coronavirus compared to 33% of people across the national population according to a recent YouGov poll (2). Small businesses have collapsed; some staff have been furloughed; and with only 19.8% of the Muslim population in full-time employment, compared to more than 34.9%, of the overall population (3), the problems will only worsen.

In the past week, requests for help have risen sharply; NZF reported its busiest day since inception in 2011. Since the outbreak began, applications for support to NZF have more than doubled compared to the month prior, and are expected to continue to rise.

One such case is that of Shabnum (name changed to protect identity), a refugee who, with her husband, is responsible for two children. Every month they struggle to cover their basic costs with the Universal Credit they receive. The lockdown has placed added strain on them as finding work is now impossible. She came to NZF at breaking point having ended up in debt. The NZF Hardship Relief team was able to help quickly by paying £225 of the couple’s debt and £750 to help cover their living costs for the month. Muslims like Shabnum and her family, who are already struggling to make ends meet each month, are particularly vulnerable when a situation like this pandemic occurs.

As well as facing poverty, Muslim communities are especially vulnerable as many live in extended households where elderly people and people with existing health conditions are most at risk. Key workers, such as NHS staff and transport workers from these families also have the additional fear of not having proper personal protection equipment to keep themselves safe from the virus.

Islamic Relief UK and NZF will help nearly 600 people with a £150,000 boost by Islamic Relief UK to NZF’s Hardship Relief Fund, helping successful applicants to NZF get essential and urgent items such as food, toiletries and nappies.

Covid-19 has sadly claimed the lives of more than 12,000 people in the UK and has brought the way of life of millions of people to a standstill. The number of deaths continue 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.

Islamic Relief launched an emergency appeal last month to support the country’s most vulnerable people during the coronavirus outbreak through local charity partners. It committed to making £500,000 available to support these organisations.

Islamic Relief UK is also supporting the Muslim Council of Britain’s recommendation to follow government advice on social distancing – which includes avoiding going to the mosque to prevent the spread of the virus.

Tufail Hussain, Director of Islamic Relief UK, said:

“This outbreak is already causing an economic fallout that this country hasn’t seen in decades, and it is the poorest and most vulnerable in our communities who are suffering the brunt of it.

“As humanitarians inspired by our faith, we are determined to help out where we can. I am delighted that we are supporting the most vulnerable people through our partnership with NZF, an organisation that helps distribute Zakat funds to individuals across the UK.”

Iqbal Nasim, Chief Executive of National Zakat Foundation, said:

“Right here, right now, we’re seeing the immediate poverty which is being created and worsened by this pandemic. Muslims who were already struggling to get by from month to month are particularly vulnerable. Demand has already risen sharply and sadly we expect this might get worse before it gets better.

“Zakat is a collective solution to collective problems and therefore I very much welcome working together with other organisations and individuals within the community to reach and help more people in need. I’m incredibly pleased that NZF is working with Islamic Relief UK in a joint effort to help those financially affected by coronavirus through these hard times. I hope Islamic Relief UK’s action to increase the proportion of its Zakat funds being used locally inspires more international welfare organisations to do the same. Now, more than ever, is the time for local Zakat.”

Notes to editors

You can donate to Islamic Relief UK’s coronavirus appeal here.

If you, or someone you know is in difficulty, you can access support from NZF’s Hardship Relief Fund here.

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.

About National Zakat Foundation

National Zakat Foundation (NZF) is the only platform with a national reach enabling Muslims to give Zakat to those who need it here in the UK. Since 2011, NZF has enabled support to over 16,000 Muslims across the country with local Zakat.

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