A Blackburn charity has been providing free halal meals to Asylum seekers across the North West.

Members of the Muslim Welfare Institute (MWI) said they became concerned after hearing about sub-standard food being provided to some asylum seekers at a hotel in Southport.

CEO of MWI, Maulana Hanif Dudhwala said: “We had some concerns about the quality of the food being offered to asylum seekers and whether the food was halal

“I was put in touch with a local family who put me in touch with one of the asylum seekers who was actually helping the other asylum seekers by translating for them.”

Maulana Hanif said they contacted a London based charity Wifaqul Ulama who very kindly donated £5000 to the cause. “Since then, we have provided hot meals for all the 100 asylum seekers twice a week. Complying with guidelines, we started distributing food vouchers to the value of £5 with each asylum seeker getting two vouchers weekly to use at a local restaurant.

“The local restaurant would then provide a hot meal to the value of £7, in exchange of the £5 voucher.

“The recipients were very happy and would send thank you messages to us on a regular basis. We also supplied biscuits, chocolates, crisps, drinks, toiletries and hygiene packs.”

Maulana Hanif said they had initially visited Southport in November with two volunteers. 

“We met with some of the asylum seekers at the local restaurant. Each one had a very sad story to tell. We were in tears by the end. Thousands of miles away from home. Their future very unsecure.

“They were from over 10 different countries including places such as Eritrea, Iran, Iraq, Palestine, Tunisia and Sudan.

“Some spoke English. For the others, we used the translator. Due to their circumstances, they were very scared to say anything about the way they were being treated here in the UK.”
The charity visited again with two male and three female volunteers. 

Maulana Hanif added: “We also had a counsellor from the Beacon Partnership and over 20 asylum seekers met with us. They were so happy to see us and expressed so much joy and gratitude for the food vouchers. 

“The ladies had bought bags of shopping with them containing basic food essentials. The asylum seekers were in tears when receiving them.

“We would like to thank all our volunteers for helping us with this project and bringing some joy to those when they needed it most.”