The Humble Foundation's 1kappeal (Completed Project)
The 1kappeal is all about small amounts of money that make a huge difference to people's lives. Run as a trial project earlier this year, we raised over £1000 privately for a brother in desperate need. We now repeat these mini-fundraisers from time to time. We also hope to challenge the misconception that there are no people living in the UK who are deserving of charity.
Background to Our First Appeal
Earlier this year, we came to know of a brother who was going through a tough time. Serious family problems and a bad history had put him in a rut that he was struggling to get out of. Numerous attempts to hold down a stable job had failed, and family circumstances meant that benefits were not covering anything more than the most basic of his needs. Despite all of this, the brother was making a huge effort to change himself and to break out of a cycle of getting into trouble. He had already completed a series of training courses which were well on the way to enabling him to keep a steady job, and most importantly, was making Islam a part of his life again. However, in the process of supporting him, it became clear there were certain things holding him back, the most significant of which was financial difficulty.
After researching the benefits and financial support available to him, those supporting him found that he was between a rock and a hard place - he could get a menial job, but not without giving up his training, and therefore the potential of a stable, long-term job in the future. For one reason or another, he was ineligible for various other types of training that might have provided greater financial support. If he continued his existing training, the benefits he would receive would not be enough to move him out of a bad environment that was contributing to his problem. He was entitled to some housing benefit, but not until he already had a rental agreement, and he couldn't get one without a deposit and at least one month's rent upfront, neither of which he had any realistic prospect of saving. However, what was clear, is that with a small amount of money, he could get himself back on his feet again, with the help of Allah, and then the help of his brothers and sisters in Islam.
The Appeal Itself
Because this appeal was unexpected, and outside of our advertised aims for 2014/15, we decided not to use existing donations for this purpose, but to launch a new appeal. We calculated that he needed as little as £1000, in order to give him enough of a boost to be able to continue the changes that he was making in his life. We allocated this money to very specific things that he needed, as part of a plan in conjunction with those people who were supporting him. Rather than a public appeal, the amount was small enough for a private appeal, and so we started by sending a message to 10 people. The response - and all praise is for Allah - was excellent, and we raised £1700. Any extra money raised was to be used for a similar campaign, either now or in the future.
How the Money Was Spent
In the end, we needed a little more than expected, with the final amount coming to £1300, which was released in stages, over a period of two months. Where possible, payments were made directly to suppliers, with the bulk of the money being used for a rental deposit and two month's rent. This enabled the brother to move away from the environment that he was in, and to make what we hope and pray will be lasting changes to his life. It also enabled him to focus on completing his training, and to take concrete steps towards long-term employment. Most importantly, it gave him some breathing space and a financial buffer, even allowing him a small amount of money left over for 'Eid.
Our Second Appeal
The second appeal was launched last month, due to an influx of zakāh donations, for which this is the only suitable project (see our zakāh policy as to why). We came to know of two families who had come to the UK from abroad, and who became in desperate need, for different reasons. One family was struck by the outbreak of war and civil strife in their home country, while another was struck by sudden illness which left the main earner in the family incapacitated. Both families had tried the usual means of seeking help, but were unable to claim social security benefits and were struggling with rent and basic needs.
One of the Humble Foundation volunteers privately set up a collection for the two families, and had already collected a sum of money and distributed it to them. As a charity, we agreed that this case fulfilled the conditions of the 1kappeal, and we agreed to make a contribution of over £500, which was distributed by one of our volunteers.
Both families are now financially stable and their difficulties have passed, with the help of Allāh, and then then help of their brothers and sisters who donated generously, both before and during our appeal.
Our Third Appeal
This round of fundraising was for a needy student of knowledge from the UK who was struggling financially, because of the burden of studying Islam and the financial burden of looking after his family. We successfully raised over £500 to help support him and his family, by the grace of Allāh.
We continue to monitor the progress of these cases, and to evaluate the success of the appeal and what we set out to achieve. For these particular individuals, the ultimate judge of success will be stability both in religion and in worldly life. After finishing three complete fundraisers, we have temporarily put a hold on the 1kappeal, so that we can see how best to take the project forward in the future.
Do People in Britain Really Need Charity?
The more we research, and the more people we come in contact with, the more it becomes clear that there are people in the UK who fit the Islamic definition of those in need of charity. No doubt, the social security benefits mean that their number is less than that of other countries that don't provide such benefits, but we have seen a significant number of people that for one reason or another, are in need of financial support. Sometimes this is because they are ineligible for certain benefits, and at other times because the benefits provided are not enough for their needs. Sometimes, the issue is complicated by difficult family circumstances, since benefits are considerably more for those who are a child's primary carer, and those who are divorced or separated can often find that they are at a disadvantage. Often, the problem is a combination of circumstances. For example, a young sister who accepts Islam is thrown out of her home. She is entitled to social housing, but what kind of housing? For most people, it would be a hostel (at least to start with), and that kind of communal housing may be completely inappropriate for a Muslim, especially a vulnerable young Muslim.
The largest food bank provider in the UK said that last year, almost a million people asked for emergency food in the UK, almost half of them because of delays or changes to benefits, and a fifth of them because of low income. Leading UK charities talk of almost 6 million people in the UK living in what would Islamically be termed poverty, and a leading provider of food to people in need talks of distributing waste food enough for 12 million meals in 2013/14. On a personal note, we see soup kitchens and food banks run by churches with queues of Muslims waiting for food. Even the most cynical of people would find it hard to argue that all of these people are simply playing the system and wasting their benefits on drugs and holidays. Nor do we believe that people in the UK should stop giving charity abroad, because whatever the circumstances of people in the UK, there are people abroad in far worse circumstances. However, it would be Islamically wrong for us to ignore our brothers and sisters in need in the UK, especially when the amount of money that they need is a small percentage of the total charity collected by Muslims in the UK. In Islam, charity really does start at home, both in the sense of the family, and the local community, and it's time that our local mosques took this into consideration when making arrangements for the distribution of zakāh and charity.