The Islamic community across the North West have raised an impressive £2,000 during the Ramadan fast to help local people in need.
Some of those who took part gathered on Wednesday to hand over the proceeds of the fundraising activities to the Foyle Foodbank in Springtown.
This is the third year local Muslims have initiated raising money for the Foodbank, which, in the six months of this year alone has seen 1,395 people through the doors and issued 500 food vouchers - up from 400 for the period last year.
The Muslim community traditionally fast from sunrise to sunset during the month of Ramadan, which ended earlier in June. Dr Zahid Bahli, Chair of the North West Islamic Association, told the ‘Journal’ that they have managed to double the contribution they raised in 2016 with the help of friends and colleagues.
Dr Bahli said: “We do it in Ramadan because we are fasting anyway and it is all about fasting and realising how hungry people will feel. The Foodbankdoes an amazing job for the people who are below the poverty line or who need some support for their family.
“What we do is encourage some of our friends from the local community, our workplaces, sports clubs, if they too can fast for six hours, or the full day and we give them a little form so people can sponsor them.
“We also run a campaign in our centre and do fundraising and set up a box in the Islamic Centre and we also encourage people to support it, so that’s more like a collective, the community coming together for a good cause, irrespective of who you are, your background, nationality, religion. We are encouraging more communities and friends to take part next year.”
James McMenamin, manager of Foyle Food Bank praised the local Muslim community.
“They have been so generous since this Ramadan Fasting Challenge came about. This year they have raised a staggering £2,000. The support they are giving us in unbelievable.”
He added: “We are seeing a big increase in the number of people this year and things haven’t really hit here in terms of austerity measures. But what people aren’t seeing is t
“at it is not just people on benefits, it is the working poor we are getting a lot of, people on zero hour contracts or minimum wage jobs and these increases are why we rely on this kind of funding because there are times we would run out of stock and we would have to buy food.
“The people in this city are second to none. We would not be here without them.”
Mr McMenamin said no-one should ever feel bad about contacting a Foodbank, as they will receive a friendly welcome in a non-judgmental setting. To contact the Foodbank, telephone of 02871263699 or message them through their Facebook page.