The Office for National Statistics reported 93% of adults have experienced an increase in their cost of living in April 2023. During 2022-2023 Muslim Women’s Network (MWN) helpline saw an increase of 58% in hardship fund applications and almost all of these applications had cost-of-living as a factor in accessing the hardship fund.
Furthermore, New Economics Foundation (NEF) had predicted in May 2022 that ethnic minorities will be hit the hardest by the cost-of-living crisis, an average increase of 1.6 times higher than their white counterparts.
Furthermore, New Economics Foundation (NEF) had predicted in May 2022 that ethnic minorities will be hit the hardest by the cost-of-living crisis, an average increase of 1.6 times higher than their white counterparts. The cost of essential goods and energy prices have rocketed leaving many of our callers struggling to make ends meet. It’s often a difficult choice between heating their home or feeding their family. Asiya* is a working single mother of two, who had fled domestic abuse, contacted MWN helpline to request financial support, she explained her income remained the same over the last 12 months, her wages did not reflect the cost-of-living crisis and inflation.
In real terms, Asiya’s two school aged children were coming to the end of the winter term, which meant they would be at home over Christmas period. With the added task of providing and extra meal and heating the home most of the day and at times night, the dilemma for Asiya is real and one that is impacting many Muslim women and families all over the UK. Although Asiya works part time, she still visits her local foodbank and is grateful for the help the foodbanks provide. However, these items are usually cupboard staples which don’t meet the cultural or religious needs of Muslim women as there isn’t always an option of accessing halal foods. In addition to food, Asiya has school aged children who are growing fast and need age-appropriate clothing and footwear including school uniform.
Asiya was grateful for the support “I received the Ramadan pack. Jazakallah Khairun. Thanks. It makes me so happy, firstly because there's someone who is like a family for me, and secondly because there were nice things in the pack. May Allah bless you. I was not feeling well emotionally in the previous days. I shall try to be closer to Allah (SWT) this month. Please include me in you duas and prayers”.
MWN helpline was able to provided Asiya and her two children with halal food, fresh fruit and vegetables, and culturally appropriate cupboard staples, such as rice, lentils, chapatti flour, vermicelli which would see her family through the Ramadan period.
The 2021 census by the Office for National Statistics found Muslims make up 6.5% (3.9 million) of the UK population, and is the second largest religion in the UK. During the holy month of Ramadan, in April 2023 the costs of food and energy would have been higher than the year before, most Muslim’s will need to eat substantial food with the right nutrients to ensure they can continue to fast in daylight hours. Where non-Muslims can have access to a range of cupboard stables, Muslims were unable to access to halal food and cultural appropriate cupboard food. This means Muslims reach out to charities MWNUK and local community food banks, which are often at capacity. In Asiya’s case most larger organisations that she contacted for hardship or zakat had a long turnaround period due to being inundated with requests. MWN helpline was able to provided Asiya and her two children with halal food, fresh fruit and vegetables, and culturally appropriate cupboard staples, such as rice, lentils, chapatti flour, vermicelli which would see her family through the Ramadan period.
In another example, a social prescriber at a local Birmingham GP practice contacted MWN helpline on behalf of Sariah*, a 40-year-old woman who applied to our hardship fund to help buy halal food for her and her family during the month of Ramadan. Sariah, and her husband were struggling to feed their family of five which included a baby. Sariah accessed her GP for mental health support as she was struggling to make ends meet and this was directly impacting her mental health and wellbeing. Sariah’s husband and eldest son were unable to work at the time as they were awaiting visa application decision. Sariah informed the MWN helpline that she was already accessing her local food banks and although they were accessing some benefits, they were unable to buy halal food as well as buy essential items such as nappies, baby food, clothes. A family clearly making tough decisions about prioritising their children. Our helpline assessed the family’s needs and we were able to provide financial support and essential cupboard items like chapatti flour, vermicelli and baby food. MWN helpline provided Ramadan food parcel which included fresh chicken, vegetables, and fruit, this included Eid gifts for the children. This brought a smile on the children faces and for a brief moment the family were able to feel the blessings of Ramadan. Sariah’s children were overjoyed, she said “I'm speechless. It's so thoughtful, especially the gift basket. When my kids saw that gift basket they were over the moon. Thank you so much MWNUK.”
*all names have been changed
If you would like support or advice about any of the issues raised in this article please contact MWN Helpline by calling 0800 999 5786 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. The helpline is open Mondays-Fridays 10am – 4pm (except bank holidays).
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