Blossoming from a simple idea amongst friends, HHUGS emerged from humble beginnings.
In 2004 a group of Muslim mothers became increasingly aware of the rapid increase in counter-terrorism raids, arrests and investigations. Troubled by the devastating effect this was having on the Muslim community and the families of those under suspicion, we decided to take action. With no resources, manpower or exemplars in this field, we knew that grass root solidarity was where our organisation would build its foundations.
We began by contacting families whose homes had been raided, showing companionship and emotional support. The services we offered were limited, starting with friendship, food rotas and the facilitation of prison visits. We weren’t offering lavish comforts or ingenious solutions, but inspired by the teachings of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) and safe in the belief that whoever relieves a believer of a hardship in this life will be relieved of one of the hardships of the Day of Judgment, we retained hope in the value of our deeds.
As broader anti-terrorism laws were passed, the need for HHUGS increased dramatically and the charity formally registered as a trust with the Charity Commission.
By 2010 HHUGS had grown from a small group of friends holding meetings in their homes to a fully functioning charity with a few paid part-time staff and an official office in Surrey. As the word began to spread, prominent public figures joined HHUGS as charity patrons. Figures included human rights solicitor Gareth Peirce, barrister Rizwan Hussain, Islamic scholar Dr Haitham al-Haddad, Imam Wasim Kempson of al-Muntada al-Islami and Imam Shakeel Begg of Lewisham Islamic Centre.
As support for HHUGS and our work grew, the fundraising department went from strength to strength and it was during 2010 that we launched our first ever Ramadan fundraising events in London and Birmingham. This year also witnessed the tragic loss of our most ardent supporter and spokesperson, Faraj Hassan Alsaadi, a Libyan national who fled to the UK in 2002 escaping persecution by the Gaddhafi regime. After being arrested shortly thereafter, Faraj was detained without charge for 8 years in prison and under house arrest. In 2009 he was finally released and for the remaining 8 months of his life campaigned tirelessly and selflessly for the fair treatment and trial of prisoners and their families. In 2010 Faraj died in a road traffic accident during the blessed month of Ramadan. At HHUGS, we hold Faraj and his family close to our hearts and are forever indebted to them for their servitude to our cause.
In 2012 the demand for HHUGS grew ever greater. As a result we increased our capacity, taking on more cases and employing more staff, including our first full-time team member in 2013. In order to accommodate this expansion we relocated to a larger more central location in London, where we remain to this day.
Now in 2014 we have expanded even further. With several full-time staff members, bigger and more beneficial fundraising events, and several new charity patrons including broadcaster and journalist Lauren Booth and Sheikh Sulaiman Gani, we are working harder than ever to protect, empower and support Muslim households negatively impacted by counter-terrorism and national security legislation in the UK and abroad.
Our vision remains simple: we want to help in the best way we can. And by intending to stay close to our grass root origins we strive to remain driven by the needs of those who matter most, our families.