Nuzhat Maqsood has been nominated by Amanda Mortimer, a fellow volunteer with Bradford Immigration and Asylum Support and Advice Network (BIASAN). BIASAN brings people together, offer friendship, practical and emotional support, campaigning, signposting, free legal advice, and more.
Nuzhat says “When I first applied for asylum it was very difficult to find any free solicitor or any type of guidance and we as a family didn’t have any contacts in Bradford; I was very worried and didn’t know where and how I could find help.
When I found out about BIASAN I got involved with the Women’s Group and found friendship. Due to my own personal experience, I want to make sure nobody goes through that and want to spread awareness that there is a lot of help available.”
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Who has she helped/who will she help?
Amanda says “During Covid-19 crisis, Nuzhat has come to the fore and sprang into action as an organiser to ensure over a thousand food and essential item parcels have been delivered around Bradford to date.
Within the women’s group, we aim to offer mutual support and friendship as well as practical help particularly with women, and we have branched out to include everyone who is particularly vulnerable during this very hard time under Covid-19 restrictions.
Nuzhat has been at the centre of this – initially offering her home as an HQ for food parcel collections as well as her own organizational and personal /people skills, and determination in ensuring everyone receives food, practical help, care, and human contact.”
Nuzhat says “I want to spread awareness regarding the help that is available and do my best to provide it to anyone who needs it.”
Amanda says “Teamwork, relationships, reliability, keeping communication going. To make sure that we help out everyone to the best of our ability we meet people one to one to find out what they are struggling with and give them a chance to express themselves. Positive feedback, as well as suggestions for improvement, are always welcomed.”
What has she learned? Any challenges?
Nuzhat says “Throughout my time working with Biasan the main thing that has been challenging is satisfying all the people with our limited resources.
Personal challenges involve mine and my family’s very very difficult position and I feel I have to keep busy and help others more vulnerable than me – in order to keep sane and feel better about myself.”
“The current situation is that we at BIASAN are carrying on during this Covid pandemic and – like many people – having to adapt and develop innovative ways of continuing to support some desperate and destitute people.
As a women’s group, we aim to offer mutual friendship, human contact, and care and are developing ways of branching out to include more people in the existing work: including telephone support, women’s and men’s WhatsApp groups, zoom meetings and groups, cultural and creative outlets, space for expression, English classes, a central store of essential items, social/ walking groups of 6 outside.
For the future, we aim to do more to address social isolation and mental/emotional health.”
What advice, contacts, or resources would help her?
Amanda says “We are all volunteers and depend on donations and grants we apply for.”
Nuzhat says “Resources would include a wider community of volunteers of all backgrounds to help us expand and improve what we do. Of course, we need regular supplies of food and a bigger budget to continue giving practical support.
A humane and just immigration system would make an enormous difference to my family’s life and thousands of others in the long run – and not living within the current ‘hostile environment’ which is causing a great deal of pain and heartache. Despite living with such uncertainty and fear, there is still some hope.”
Why we’re sharing these stories
Each year, an individual or organisation from each of our five categories plus one exceptional judges’ choice individual is recognised at our annual Igniting Inspiration celebration event.
We publish each and every nomination to raise awareness of all the positive work that goes on in the North. While, this year, our physical event had to be deferred, our campaign to spread stories of positive social impact continues – good news is needed!