A NEWPORT man dedicated to helping the city’s vulnerable after falling on tough times himself has explained why he has decided to enter politics.

Tariq Khan, organiser of Feed Newport CIC, says he and his band of volunteers are abused almost every day for their work, which he says has spurred him on to using his platform to change a culture of ignorance.

On May 6 Mr Khan will be running for the Victoria ward by-election as the candidate for the Green Party, and says he is committed to creating “real change at grassroots level”.

Asian Image: Tariq Khan with his wife, Sofia, and one of their children

Tariq Khan with his wife, Sofia, and one of their children

“Every time we post about the good work we do, we know the abuse we will receive online,” he said.

“I often see our volunteers crying because of the abuse we get – often motivated by prejudice for those we are helping.

“I’m not a political person by any means, but I felt I owed it to Newport to put myself forward to try and create change.”

He has spent the last four and a half years devoted to helping the city’s vulnerable people, who often find themselves homeless – as he did in his young adult years.

“I met a support worker who I can honestly say changed my life,” he said. “I felt at the time I was very fortunate to find that person, and I want to be someone now that others who might have fallen on hard times can look at for some inspiration.

Asian Image: ariq Khan (L) and Nick Sunga at the community clothes giveaway in Pill www.christinsleyphotography.co.uk

Tariq Khan (L) and Nick Sunga at the community clothes giveaway in Pill. Picture: www.christinsleyphotography.co.uk

“I know my story is out of the ordinary [compared to typical politicians] – but I want to embrace that.”

He says when researching, he felt he was most aligned with the Green Party, who he believes are calling for real lifestyle change at "grassroots" level that he thinks Newport needs.

“The pandemic has shown we have a host of issues to contend with,” he said. “There is a lot of pressure on food banks, homelessness organisations like Pobl, and community groups like ourselves.

“But I also feel it’s been a time where we’ve seen lots of people within our communities come forward and show genuine kindness and a will to help.

“I’d really like to help similar organisations to us start up, and get the funding they need to help people as we have.

“I feel passionately that real change comes from people within our communities, at the heart of the issues affecting our society.

“If I can use my platform to help implement their policies, then I’d be delighted.”


Among his main interests include encouraging people to make necessary lifestyle changes, such as encouraging understanding among diverse communities, a greener and cleaner day-to-day approach, combatting growing issues of flytipping through better policing, and to keeping homeless people off the streets after the pandemic.

Asian Image: Tariq at Feed Newport's 'Secret Garden' to help the city's vulnerable

Tariq at Feed Newport's 'Secret Garden' to help the city's vulnerable

“I believe Newport council is focusing on regenerating empty properties in the heart of the city that can lead to fewer people returning to life on the streets when the pandemic is over,” he explained.

“In turn, I hope with organisations like Feed Newport and others growing nearby, we can make sure that contributes to a positive buzz in city centre, and entices more businesses to open up.”

He is excited by what the city can offer in the next few years, highlighting works at the Velodrome and aims to make the Transporter Bridge a top visitors’ attraction.

“I am confident Newport can be a great place to be again, and I don’t feel the council is really marketing what is happening here enough.”

He also says he felt he owed it to his four children to give politics a crack.

“As an Asian male in the UK with my background, I feel I have faced a lot of injustices,” he added. “I often wonder what my children will face in the next ten or 20 years of their lives here.

“I see so many hungry young people coming to us – no one should experience that, especially children, but that’s the reality. It often makes me reflect on past experiences.

“I don’t want my children to face the challenges I did.

“I do think there needs to be a change of culture here.

Asian Image: Mr Khan’s daughter, Zoya, four, helping out

Mr Khan’s daughter, Zoya, four, helping out

“One volunteer asked me recently, ‘why do people hate us?’. I actually warn people who volunteer for Feed Newport of the kind of abuse they can expect. But why should it be like that? How do I explain that to my kids?

“When I was growing up in Newport, and looking for some inspiration and a voice that spoke for me, I found there wasn’t one here.

“I still think the Green Party has got a long way to go before it is offering a strong and diverse alternative to mainstream politics, but I want to be a part of a new start.”

Here are all the candidates running in the Victoria ward by-election:

  • Farzina Hussain - Welsh Labour
  • Mike Hamilton - Welsh Liberal Democrats
  • Muhammad Tariq - Conservatives
  • Tariq Khan - Green Party