Oldham Mosque Council leaders have praised the efforts of numerous voluntary initiatives in and around the town as the coronavirus crisis continues to affect everyday lives.

Many residents of Oldham are fortunate to live amongst many so volunteers who have put their own lives at risk to reach out to vulnerable and ‘hard to reach’ residents – those who are in greater need than ever because of the pandemic.

Since lockdown in March, the Muslim community, alongside many other faith and no-faith communities including Oldham Action and Ghazali Trust, have responded in a number of ways to support residents from all communities and backgrounds.

Thousands of people have been provided with food packages, bereavement support, and ongoing support to people on their doorsteps.

Hot meals and food have been sponsored by Hussainia Islamic Mission, the Jamia Masjid Greengate, the  Almadina Jamia Masjid and the Madina Institute amongst others, while the AL Adab Institute, Planet Mercy UK, UKEFF and the Greengate Trust and the European Islamic Centre have all added valuable and much-needed support.

The Oldham Mosques Council formed in 2001 after the civic disturbances.

It includes leaders/members of 35 Mosques within Oldham.

The organisation aims to tackle inequality, and to build good relations between Oldham residents from different faiths and people of no faith.

Abdul Basit Shah, the Acting Chair of the OMC, said: “OMC has been very active in helping members of the community (both Muslim and non-Muslim) to stay safe and well.

“Many volunteers from Mosques and Madrassahs have joined with the statutory and voluntary sectors in the relief effort.

“This includes donating and distributing food and emergency items and keeping in contact with vulnerable members of communities of all backgrounds.

“Since the pandemic started the OMC decided to reach out to communities of Oldham to give people the advice and support they needed to stay safe, alongside helping those who are in desperate need of help.

“OMC requested all Mosques to close during the lockdown period and asked members of the Muslim community to perform their prayers at home.

“We are proud to say that the Muslim community have complied with the the Government guidelines very well.

“We also put a call out to members and friends of the OMC to ask if they would be kind enough to donate towards a hot meal for the 350 staff at the Royal Oldham Hospital every Tuesday.

“This has become a huge success and now known as the ‘curry night’, it started on April 21 and will continue to do so until at least the end of June 2020.

“We have already had donations that will provide hot meals for 350 staff over 11 weeks, making an astonishing 3,850 meals.”

Cllr Arooj Shah, Deputy Leader of Oldham Council, said: ‘OMC has been very supportive of the work Oldham Partnership has been doing across the borough over the last few weeks.

“They have played an important role supporting communities across Oldham, especially during Ramadan and the Eid celebrations.

“We’d like to thank OMC for all its work and also everyone who is helping to stop the spread of Coronavirus and supporting our residents.”