No words can describe the devastation following an arrest: the terror of a child whose father has been taken away; the anguish of an elderly mother who has lost her son; and the desperation of a pregnant wife left to fend without her husband. Trauma and the struggle to survive what follows with a broken heart is an unimaginable trial for those most vulnerable: the children, women and elderly.
“Those who are merciful will be shown mercy by the Most Merciful. Be
merciful to those on the earth and the One in the heavens will have mercy upon you.”
This Ramadhan, over 200 families affected by counter-terror measures will be grieving in poverty, isolation and fear. These households are neither different nor far from our own:
Just next door, a single mother is struggling to put food on the table for iftar, as bailiffs harass her family each day. Her children, bullied at school, are feeling the loss of their father more acutely in a month where families normally come together.
That elderly uncle in the run down house at the end of the street; following the arrest of his son, his health has deteriorated severely and he’s been unable to take care of himself. He yearns to visit his son, but is too ashamed to ask help of a community that has ostracised him.
As for the former prisoner spending his first Ramadhan outside the cell he grew used to; prohibited from visiting the local mosque, he breaks his fast alone. But the isolation, fear and rejection he faces daily shy in comparison to his worries for the family he’s forced to live apart from.
Awaiting your mercy is a child in need of cherishing; a single mother in need of solace; an elderly parent in need of kindness; and the released prisoner with none but Allah to hear him.
“He who does not show mercy to our young ones or recognize the rights of our elders
is not one of us.”
£337,812 raised of £600,000 target
Gift presents to children who have forgotten the joy of Eid
New clothes, gifts and the joy of celebrating together –these are the things all children look forward to at the end of Ramadhan. But children of prisoners have no such hope. Theirs are households where food is scarce, and many are forced to go without warm clothes in winter. This Eid ul-Fitr, they’ll be looking on with sadness at peers with new clothes and presents.
“On Eid they sent us a box of gifts which had little presents and Surayah was so happy, I cannot express what her happiness did for me. She was asking, ‘Who is HHUGS?’ and I said, ‘they are our helpers in Islam.’””
Unite them with a month’s worth of prison visits £50 per visit
The average UK prison visit is a 120 mile round-trip. For an elderly parent in poor health and poverty or a single mother with small children, mobility constraints and the high cost of travelling to a remote location, makes prison visits impossible. In times of togetherness like Ramadhan and Eid, the parents, wives and children of prisoners will be suffering the pain of separation more acutely.
"May Allah reward everyone at HHUGS for arranging transport for the prison visit. Alhamdulillah, if it was not for HHUGS and the volunteers who drive us, I wouldn't be able to do this especially with a new born baby. May Allah reward you all with Paradise. My husband was so excited to see our son. It was really sweet, it was the first time he seen him since he's been born.”
Facilitate professional counselling to heal those suffering from trauma and mental health problems
Families of prisoners are more than twice as likely to suffer mental health problems. The trauma of having witnessed raids or arrests, followed by the struggle to survive through poverty, isolation and bullying, takes a huge toll on their emotional wellbeing. Children of prisoners often live with the shame of psychological responses like bedwetting, while their mothers suffer from anxiety under the burden of caring for a family alone. For them, Ramadhan and Eid won’t be a time of joy.
“HHUGS provided us with 24 hour emotional support when times got really difficult. My wife received counselling from a wonderful sister who did everything possible to make it easy for her. This helped her regain her focus, preventing her from falling into depression. I cannot thank HHUGS enough for the help and support they have given – the list of things they have done for us is endless!”
Feed a family for a month for £250 or for a year £3000
Following the arrest of their husbands, wives become single mothers overnight. They are left to pick up the pieces of a life devastated and maintain a household against all the odds. With bank accounts frozen and they haven’t even the means to feed their children. In Ramadhan, the hunger they feel before Iftar, will be far more bitter than our own.
“HHUGS has made such a difference to my financial situation. The shopping vouchers they provide me (with) meant I saved money to pay for other expenses such as water, gas and electricity bills. They also sent me meat packs during Ramadhan.”
Give an isolated person the chance to connect with others this Eid
No one deserves to be left alone in times of hardship. Yet this is the reality families of prisoners live with day in and day out. Labelled guilty by association, they are ostracised by their own communities, and often face harassment. This Ramadhan and Eid, when families and communities come together, the wives, children and elderly parents of prisoners will be feeling that isolation more intensely than ever.
“They [HHUGS] also arranged Eid parties we could attend. We finally started to feel more normal, like there were some people who weren’t afraid to associate with us. HHUGS saw us as human beings, not as criminals and terrorists. They treated us as part of the Ummah.”
Cover the cost of rent, basic utilities and repairs for families who face homelessness or exposure
Following an arrest, many families of prisoners have their assets confiscated. Left without the means to pay the rent, they face eviction and harassment from bailiffs. Often they haven’t even the means to fix a front door smashed in a raid. Exposed to the elements, they are forced to live without basic security in their own homes. This Ramadhan, they won’t be waiting for sunset with anticipation, but with fear and dread.
"They helped me with rent payments, without which we would be homeless.”
Embrace a child through the guidance and support of a HHUGS mentor
In addition to the trauma they are forced to live with, children of prisoners are also bullied and ostracised. Made to feel guilty by association, they often succumb to mental-health problems and even turn to truancy in the absence of social support. With two out of three boys with a convicted parent becoming offenders themselves, children of prisoners are more than three times as likely to commit anti-social or delinquent behaviour. The absence of their fathers this Ramadhan and Eid, will leave them feeling more abandoned than ever.
“Yusuf used to stay in his room alone all day, but HHUGS, they paid attention to him, taking him on Islamic conferences and retreats. […] His approach to things became different, he would know right from wrong and he became a positive healthy young man. He changed his attitude towards me from hostility to kindness and he began helping me look after our family. […] I couldn’t have imagined that they would have such an impact on him. I believe I would never have been able to help Yusuf in the same way.”
Empowering a single mother to gain independence, through education, driving lessons and vocational training
Hindered by financial hardship and social isolation, the wives of prisoners struggle to provide for their children. Many face the additional challenge of language constraints as well as a lack of basic skills and work experience. Without community support for childcare and funding for education, they’re unable to improve their situation. Their association with a terror suspect also reduces their chances of employment. For them, Ramadhan will be another month of helplessness and hardship.
"The driving instructor course will mean I’m working on a self-employed basis […] I can pay off my debts, support the children's education, just live a reasonable life without having to ask people. […] It’s good for my children to see that their mum is going to work and providing for the family. I don’t want them to grow up with the mentality that you can sit at home and everything will come to you."
Got the intention but not the means? You’ve already secured half the reward! Now grab the other half by signing up for our Ramadhan fundraising challenge.