To those that know me; it is no surprise that I often sign up for charity fundraising events. You see, I love a challenge; and along with it, some healthy competition. It’s a chance for me to appease my thirst for adventure – all whilst helping others. That’s why I decided to sign up for the HHUGS Boat Race. The fact it was due to be held after Ramadhan was an added bonus. Ramadhan is the perfect opportunity for my family and I to fundraise collectively. I was looking forward to competing against others; whilst making a difference to HHUGS families.

However, due to the current pandemic; I’m now unsure when the boat race will go ahead. I was deflated; as I was looking forward to another physical challenge, another chance to have fun whilst fundraising for those in need.

My last fundraising venture for HHUGS was six weeks ago, it gave me that buzz that you only get from helping others.. My family and I walked five miles in the cold, all to help HHUGS families survive winter.

It was a Sunday – our allocated chill day. A chance to spend some quality time with our loved ones. For some, it is a rare opportunity to have a lie in, for others it a perfect excuse for a hearty brunch. Usually on cold wintery days, when we hear the rain pour heavily against our window, we snuggle deeper into our duvets, avoiding the thought of the hectic week ahead.

But, on the 23rd of February 2020, a collective of brave individuals ventured out, sacrificing the comfort of their warm beds, out of their cosy homes and headed to Hyde Park, despite the cold. They donned their warmest winter jackets, determined to make a difference.  

Amongst the brave, were my family.  Despite the strong winds and the rain at times,  our motivation to keep going was the thought of the families that are in need, within the UK, on our doorstep but who are sadly often forgotten.

The work that HHUGS does is not only vital within our community: what they offer to families who are left behind is unique. Within the Muslim community you tend to see a lot of attention and effort is directed towards international causes, however HHUGS is amongst of the few who are a beacon of light for people close to home. Unlike any other, they give relief to those families who are left isolated, shunned from their community through no fault of their own and desperately in need of urgent support.

There was an air of excitement from the very beginning. The push to fundraise and reach our target to walking together, side by side. We strove to the very end to reach our target, because we knew that HHUGS families were depending on us.  

Although many families would like to fundraise together, it can be a daunting prospect. Many of the sponsored events are harder for children and the elderly as they usually consist of vigorous activity such as mountain climbs or treks.  However, the Winter Walk was very family friendly. People of all ages were able to participate together: children came along with their parents and were excited to be part of the day.

With each step, we were one step closer to providing families with the support they needed to survive Winter. We embraced the cold to ensure that single mothers did not need to choose between heating and eating.

At the end of our five mile walk, we were reminded just how impactful our participation was. I was taken aback as to how a simple family fun day out, on a Sunday Winter morning, fills the heart of HHUGS families with such immense gratitude. What made it all the more worthwhile was when we were told that when a HHUGS beneficiary became aware of our five mile walk, he was stunned; amazed that people who did not know him personally, were walking, sacrificing their time and comfort, to support families like his own. But it was his final words that blew me away:

‘’From now, until my last breath, I will make Du’a, every single day, for every single person who is on that walk, and who is aiding us at this point in time.”

For families like his, we walked. For those, for whom there is no barrier between their supplications and Allah – such a man was now praying for the likes of my family and I! We walked to remind these families that they are not forgotten, that there are people who care.  That we are listening to and are aware of the struggle they face every dinner time, the struggle they face every morning when they wake up to a cold house. The struggle they face when they try to make their children’s clothes last a little longer. 

Each step we took was precious, cherished by HHUGS families whose lives are changed due to our participation. 

Although due to the current crisis, it’s uncertain when I will next be able to take part in physical events to fundraise. I may feel disappointed but Allah always opens doors, whatever our situation. That’s why I’ve now decided to sign up to HHUGS’ Race to Jannah challenge. From the safety of my own home, my family and I can compete; using HHUG’s exclusive new gaming system. I look forward to keeping an eye on my competition via the leader board system and will strive to a winner this Ramadhan.  

I may not be able to exercise my muscles much with this challenge, or lose that Ramadhan belly, but this challenge allows me to save lives, by protecting lives; I can stay home and stay safe whilst still making a difference.

My family and I might be finding it a little tough isolating at home, but we can take comfort in the fact that we’re in it together; and that it’s only temporary – for many families, like those HHUGS support, for a community to socially distance from them, to experience intense isolation is nothing new. Unlike my wife and my mother, they don’t always have the luxury of their loved ones being around them.  So join me, in changing lives, and be a winner this Ramadhan.

Sign up now for the Race to Jannah!