Thursday May 13, 2021
LONDON: British Prime Minister Borris Johnson has honoured a group of Pakistanis and their 'One Million Meals' campaign with the UK Points of Light Award on Thursday.
'One Million Meals' was founded by Bilal Bin Saqib, Momin Saqib, Raja Suleman Raza and Muhammad Arif Anis. They launched the campaign during the lockdown in the UK in 2020 and have ensured over 100,000 meals sent to the National Health Service (NHS) and key workers, the homeless, and people in need.
The award recognises the extraordinary services of Bilal and Momin while making special mention of Raja Suleman and Muhammad Arif.
Making change in community
Points of Light are outstanding individual volunteers — people who are making a change in their community.
First established by President George H. W. Bush in 1990, UK Points of Light was developed in partnership with the US programme and launched in the Cabinet Room at 10 Downing Street in April 2014.
Since then, hundreds of people have been named Points of Light by the prime minister, highlighting an enormous array of innovative and inspirational volunteering across the length and breadth of Britain.
The One Million Meals campaign has received support from sporting stars such as former footballer David Beckham and boxer Amir Khan and has inspired hundreds of volunteers to help with communications and deliveries, and local companies who donated food and healthy drinks.
Operating in more than 200 locations through 47 hospitals, trusts and food banks, the initiative aims to continue providing nutritious meals whilst the nation recovers from COVID-19.
Raja Suleman Raza, who is also chief executive of a restaurant chain that initiated the donations to the 'One Million Meals' campaign, said:" It is an absolute honour for me to be recognised for the Points of Light Award by the Prime Minister for our efforts during this pandemic."
"This award means a lot to me, I intend to continue serving the vulnerable communities around us who are further exposed to larger risk due to this pandemic and require our support more than ever before," he added.
Meanwhile, Muhammad Arif Anis, an author and expert on leadership, said: "It is a humbling moment to be recognised by the Prime Minister. The real honour has been to serve humanity in the moment of trial. The One Million Meals campaign was a Pakistani diaspora response to a humanitarian crisis above any divisions in society."
"It was a response above the lines of race, ethnicity and religion, exhibiting a British spirit that is needed now, more than ever," he added.
On the other hand, Bilal said that he is extremely humbled to have received this recognition from the honourable Prime Minister himself.
"Our ongoing work for communities has been with the pure intent of improving lives as much as we possibly can," he shared, adding that providing ease in water accessibility to the water-deprived communities has always been a cause that's close to his heart.
Taking the same notion forward, Momin said: "Not just is this a huge honour, but it's extremely encouraging to be a recipient of the Points of Light Award by the respected Prime Minister. I believe serving society has to be at the core of our being. We as global citizens must work towards making this world a better place in whatever capacity we can!"
UK Prime Minister's Office released this news today to coincide with Eid-ul-Fitr as millions of Muslims in the United Kingdom are celebrating the end of the holy month of Ramadan.
The award recipients, Bilal and Momin, are also co-founders of ‘Tayaba’, a charity which provides clean water solutions for vulnerable communities in Pakistan.
Set up in 2016, the charity has pioneered the use of 'H2O wheels' — specially-designed plastic water-carrying devices which can be easily rolled along the ground and can hygienically store more than 40 litres of water, which is eight to ten times more than can be held by a traditional water pot.
Over 6,500 H2O wheels have been distributed to areas that have been struck by water-scarcity issues, giving support to more than 40,000 families.