Photo of Zara Momtaz

Zara Momtaz

Zara Momtaz has been nominated by Mussarat Rahman.

Zara says “I have been a volunteer at BIASAN, the Bradford Immigration and Asylum Seekers Support and Information Network for nearly ten years now.

I’m from Iran and I have lived in the UK for 43 years now. I am a mother and give my time to help families who come to BIASAN.

I like to make myself useful and feel like I am like a mother figure to the young families who arrive here in the UK.

I like to serve them my famous rice, called ‘Estanbulli!’ At the BIASAN Drop In, I have on occasions cooked various types of Iranian rice and other traditional food. People queue with plates and forks in hand to eat my rice!”

Who have you helped?

“I help the young families at BIASAN by donating spare clothes that are given to me by my neighbours. I also translate Farsi for those who are non-English speakers at BIASAN.”

What’s worked?

“Just being myself and being compassionate has helped people in need. This has made me more comfortable in being able to provide for those in need. I am a mother and  knowing that I have a family too and am a stranger who emigrated here, has been a key factor in my ability to have the staying power at BIASAN.”

What have you learnt? Any challenges?

“I have learnt that I have to be flexible in my approach as people’s needs differ each week. I am open  to new understanding as I encounter many cultures, communities and religions here each week.”

What’s next?

“I am going to continue my journey with BIASAN as I enjoy being here and it makes feel good.”

What advice, contacts or resources would help you?

“Be open to change. You never know when your circumstances will change and you could end up a refugee or asylum seeker yourself.”

Why we’re sharing these stories

An individual or organisation from each of our five categories will be recognised at our Igniting Inspiration recognition event in November, but we want to publish all relevant stories to spread awareness of all the positive work that goes on in the North!