It has been a busy year for one of the UK’s leading Muslim charities, Islamic Relief UK, raising a record-breaking £38.6 million in donations, supporting millions of people in struggling communities in the UK and across the globe, and ending the year by winning Charity of the Year at the Third Sector Awards. The Third Sector Awards recognises the efforts of charities around the UK, from fundraising campaigns to marketing and communications work.
Amaliah sat down with Islamic Relief UK to talk about the challenges of the past year, their achievements, and the future of the humanitarian sector.
How does IR maintain high standards in their charity work?
Our staff and teams at Islamic Relief (IR) are the backbones of our organisation and everything that we’re able to achieve is thanks to their dedication and commitment. The impeccable standards that our team holds themselves to ensure that we’re always delivering programmes that will truly benefit those most in need. And it’s thanks to this and our team’s unwavering passion to help the most vulnerable around the world that we’re able to maintain high standards. In fact, we go further than just maintaining those standards – we want to know that we’re being tested and held up against this, so we ensure we’re certified against accreditations like the Core Humanitarian Standard – which is the gold bar for NGOs around the world! And of course, winning awards like the Third Sector Awards is only possible because of the high standards of our teams!
How do you balance the admin which comes with running an organisation alongside the responsibilities attached to dealing with people’s money (which is an Amanah)?
There is a huge responsibility on all of us at Islamic Relief to ensure that we’re running an organisation that is efficient, organised and effective. Not only do we want to ensure that hard-earned donations are utilised well but we also want to ensure that our rights-holders have their needs met. We regularly carry out assessments to ensure that our programmes are fulfilling the needs of all the communities that we work with and our teams on the ground are there everyday working closely with these communities.
What are the key things which contributed to IR winning the Charity of the Year at the Third Sector awards?
The Third Sector Charity of the Year Award is a true honour for all of us, but we dedicate the win truly to our staff. Their tireless efforts help to raise the much needed funds that support our programmes around the world. One of the judges cited that we were “A visionary Charity that takes responsibility for issues both locally and globally and is not afraid to step in wherever needed.” And we certainly feel that responsibility! Having it recognised by the Third Sector Awards is a real privilege.
What’s next for IR? What goals or objectives does IR have in the near future?
Islamic Relief is a fast paced organisation and we’re always looking ahead to see what more we can be doing to serve those we work with. We’ll be continuing to build on our work supporting those who have been impacted by the floods in Pakistan most recently – we know that there is huge work to be done to support those impacted by climate change. Not only are we supporting those on the frontline of the climate crisis but we’ll be continuing to build on our campaigning work on climate change because there is so much to be done by global actors to support those who are bearing the brunt of the crisis.
What’s something exciting IR is working on / what can we expect to see from IR?
A growing area of work for IR that is certainly important to us is our work in the UK. We’ve recognised the real need here in the UK and we know that so much more needs to be done to help people who are facing tough times. Although there are many challenges ahead we’ll be working with an increasing array of UK partners and you can certainly expect to hear more from us about our work at home!
How do you determine what cause to focus on, particularly at a time where several Muslim communities (in the UK and beyond) are under duress?
The reality is that there are huge problems in the UK and around the world and there is much to be done to meet the growing needs of these communities. We carry out regular needs assessments, work closely with our teams on the ground and with our partners to work out where and how we can be most effective. There is always work to be done and our teams are always striving to get that work done and best serve those most in need.
What’s the current most pressing need/campaign and how can people support it?
Right now we can point to many crises around the world that need people’s support. From Pakistan to East Africa there are communities suffering from one weather extreme to the other. Currently we’ve been working hard to raise awareness of the ongoing hunger crisis in East Africa. There, countries are facing their fifth failed rains. Our East Africa Hunger Crisis Appeal is providing much needed support to the countless families who are facing hunger and are on the brink of famine. You can support our work here.
Where do you see the future of IR and charities in general in the coming years?
The immediate future for IR and other charities is definitely a challenging one. The cost of living crisis, the global impacts of inflation, and climate change mean that we will all face increasing demand and the need to act more quickly. This year alone, we’ve seen numerous floods and weather events cause catastrophe to people around the world – sadly, these events aren’t likely to end anytime soon. As we deliver programmes that support those impacted there’s a growing need for to campaign and call on world leaders to tackle the root causes of these growing inequalities.
What are your hopes for the humanitarian sector?
The humanitarian sector offers a beacon of hope for so many around the world. It’s an opportunity for girls to receive an education, or families to be able to access clean water, or parents being able to feed their families. We really hope that, as a sector, we can continue to work together to ensure that we can improve the lives and livelihoods of as many people as possible around the world.
About Islamic Relief
Islamic Relief, a leading Muslim charity, is an independent non-governmental organisation (NGO) founded in the UK in 1984 by a group of medical doctors and activists.
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