After their son’s arrest, Rizwan and Nasreen’s lives were turned upside-down. Rizwan lost his job, the support of his extended family and friends, and even faced losing custody of his youngest son and grandson, when they were put onto the child protection register. Struggling with poverty and with their mental health, the family are surviving with the strength of their faith.
Rizwan: If it wasn’t for HHUGS, we would have had to find someone else to borrow money from. The support from HHUGS has given us a shelter from not having to ask more people for money. Because we have so many debts, and it’s like water, it’s like drowning.
When HHUGS started supporting us, we knew, Alhamdulillah, that we weren’t going to starve. At that time, our biggest worry was for food and the heating bills. Everything else we could do without. So the help from HHUGS made such a difference. We used to receive vouchers every month, for our food shopping. it was like a guarantee that there was going to be food on the table. And they were there to help with the electric and gas bills too. Normally, in winter, we try not to use much heating, because it’s expensive, and you basically have to decide between food or the gas and electric. We used to make do with getting the children to wear a couple of extra layers. But HHUGS covered our bills, and we didn’t have to go asking door to door for £10 or £20 for these basic things.
We haven’t been able to visit my son in prison since last March. But before the lockdown, HHUGS helped us with prison visits, whether it was covering the cost of our petrol or taking my wife to see our son. And then during Eid, their volunteers and the young lad from HHUGS brought us meat, and rice, and presents for the kids. They never failed to ask us if there was anything else we needed support with. The sisters would check up on my wife to see if she needed to talk about anything. This is emotional support, you know? They aren’t just helping financially. Even me, I would get a call regularly from that young lad, asking how I was. All I could say to him was, ‘I wouldn’t know where I would be today without the support of HHUGS.’
Nasreen: Before the lockdown, I attended the coffee mornings that HHUGS organised. It was good seeing people and talking. Because when you sit with others going through something similar, you don’t question why is Allah only doing this to me? You can share your happiness and sadness, comfort each other, have a heart to heart, and it gives you strength. You are going through pain and so are they, and you can get through it together.
Rizwan: When my wife went to the coffee mornings and Eid parties, these made her strong and gave her a break in a way. She would come back refreshed.
A Lifeline for the Forgotten
Rizwan: Last year’s Eid, which we spent at home, wasn’t like Eid. But to be honest with you, even before that our Eid’s weren’t the same. Nobody would come around and we didn’t go to anybody’s house. Years have passed now and our families have forgotten us, but we are still here. And Alhamdulillah, even now HHUGS are still there for us. Their support is ongoing. Allah (swt) gave us this strength to survive, and then He gave us HHUGS to support us, and He has fed us through a channel that we could not even have imagined. Because we did not know you existed.
People don’t know what families go through when something like this happens to them. Even we didn’t know. But once you are in that situation and you’ve dealt with the police and the authorities, then you understand the good that HHUGS does. It’s easy to say, they help families in need. But it’s impossible to understand without knowing what kind of stress that family is going through, and what ease HHUGS brings them.
If someone asked me about sending donations abroad to another charity, I would say, ‘no, I think you should give it to HHUGS.’ There are lots of countries with needy people, but you need to look after your own household and your own family first. There are brothers and sister suffering here in the UK; children and families who have nothing to do with a crime, and who get caught up in the trouble. They are weak and needy and they need help. And these are the people HHUGS is supporting.
So if I was in a place where I could afford it, my charity would go to HHUGS. May Allah (swt) give me the strength, a normal life again, so that I can help with this good cause insha’ Allah. Because I know if you weren’t there, I wouldn’t be sitting here.