2 Year anniversary.
2 years ago, National Zakat Foundation opened its doors to a groundbreaking project - the inspiration behind the charity’s inception - the first ever Muslim women’s shelter in Birmingham. Alhamdulilah, in this short period of time we have managed to make a real difference to the lives of 40 women who resided in the shelter and rebuilt their lives for the better. This week we are celebrating this success with our local partners Trident Reach, a local charity which has been providing housing and support to vulnerable individuals and communities in the Midlands for over 50 years.
National Zakat Foundation and Trident Reach teamed up in 2013 to provide a faith sensitive project in response to the growing demand in the West Midlands and UK wide for such services. The region is home to 376,152 Muslims1, the largest population of UK Muslims outside of London. The shelter is a project that is funded by the community, for the community. Through the work that has been accomplished, we have not only been able to fulfil the rights of the needy on our doorstep, but in the process we have also managed to demonstrate the significant impact of distributing Zakat locally, in line with Prophetic tradition. The motivation for setting up specialised shelters emerged from disturbing reports on Muslim women in the UK sleeping rough on park benches or turning to prostitution to feed their children.
Our partners at Trident Reach also recognised the need to deliver a service that met the needs of Muslim women in making their services more accessible and breaking down the barriers for those who would not otherwise have the courage to leave the harmful or dangerous environments that they are in. To access the service, women can either self-refer into the shelter, or contact us through any of our referral partners, including Women’s Aid and Birmingham City Council.
The Muslim women’s shelters provide a safe haven for destitute women who have nowhere to turn in times of desperate need. Residents at the Birmingham shelter have come from a range of backgrounds, including women originating from Europe, North Africa, South East Asia, the Caribbean as well as White British women. The eldest resident who came to stay at the shelter was 61 years old. She was homeless having fled from torture and slavery in Ethiopia. The youngest resident was the case of a 19 year old new Muslim who was rejected by her family and forced to move out after accepting Islam.
We provide a number of different support services to enable women to better cope with any difficulties they are facing. In addition to providing safe accommodation, residents are assigned a key-worker to help them establish an action plan with personalised goals, enabling residents to reclaim their futures. This may include support in finding a job and accessing training, as well as arranging activities that benefit their overall wellbeing including women only fitness classes and faith based counselling.
The milestone represents a significant achievement for the Muslim community in Birmingham.
Asif Bhayat, Head of Zakat Distribution said:
"Distributing Zakat to the poor and needy in the UK is at the heart of what the National Zakat Foundation does. Never before has this kind of infrastructure been in place to respond to the needs of the destitute in our own community. We would like to dedicate this achievement to all those who have supported our work and look forward to serving more beneficiaries in Birmingham and beyond.”
On behalf of all of the women who have benefited from the shelter, we would like to express our sincere thanks to everyone who helped make this project into a reality and our generous donors who keep the service running today.
 Census 2011. ONS Table QS208EW