by Elana Wong
Mohammed Mominul Hamid is one inspiring human being. Having played a key role in education for refugees in the UK, Mohammed’s influence on refugee and asylum seeker rights in the UK goes far beyond the current COVID-19 situation. Rescued as a victim of human trafficking, he lost a university scholarship in early 2018 to the Home Office’s study ban. Angered by this law, which had blocked refugees and asylum seekers from the right to study, he took them to court over the right to education and won. In May 2018, the UK Government reversed their study ban, allowing universities to start offering refugee scholarships.
Now based in Newcastle, on a scholarship at Northumbria University studying law, he has continued to go above and beyond as a neighbour, community representative, and citizen. His list of societal contributions is long, from being one of four officially recognised Refugee Leaders in the UK to volunteering for the Fire Services and Citizens Advice. Recently, COLOURS had the privilege of speaking to him on the work he’s doing during the lockdown.
The Little Help Foodbank and Delivery Service
Mohammed originally started The Little Help Food Bank before the COVID-19 situation, running it for refugees and asylum seekers struggling on the meagre government allowances (£37.75 per week). He has now opened this up to other vulnerable people in the community, relying on donations based on listed needs, accepting only closed and sealed food packs, and taking nothing for himself – despite being on the same allowance. “It was really hard to survive [at the start of lockdown]”, he tells us, “even normal supermarkets and corner shops raised their prices, and it became much more expensive to survive.”
The very night it was announced, he delivered his first food package by bike to a household of vulnerable refugees, and the ‘Covid Help and Support Group for Asylum Seekers in the Northeast’ group was born. Since then, he has been delivering dozens of food packs to vulnerable people across the city.
He now posts updates here on his YouTube channel, which he created to raise awareness, start discussions around refugee and asylum seeker issues, share messages of positivity and kindness, as well as to ensure donors could fully see the effect of their contributions.
The Little Help Kitchen
Also on his YouTube Channel, Mohammed has now started The Little Help Kitchen series – a response to a number of his delivery recipients expressing the need for cost-effective, tasty food. In this series, he posts simple and easy to follow meals for the day (with most totalling £1.50 per day) as extra support for asylum seekers and vulnerable people tight on funds. “I’m standing by the people of my community,” he says, referring to some critics of his YouTube videos, “I’ll do it no matter what. If you think there’s something better, then tell me and I’ll do it [too].” Check out the series here.
How Can We Help?
After some coaxing, Mohammed told us that an organisation called Curious Monkey is assisting him with sourcing the food for his packages and that, if we wanted to donate from afar, we could do so there. However, Mohammed emphasises that his first and most important request is that he would love for other people to start similar initiatives. “Start helping in our communities,” he says, “make the world a kinder place.”
Find the Support Group's Facebook page here: https://www.facebook.com/CovidHelpAsylumSNE/
Read his blog here: abirking.com - MY BlOG – Social Service
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We're raising funds for Choose Love/Help Refugee's Emergency Coronavirus Appeal. We know money is short for many at the moment. However, if you do find yourself with some spare change, please consider giving at the link below.
Learn more about our campaign, 'Leave No One Behind' here: https://www.coloursedinburgh.co.uk/covid19-leave-no-one-behind