If you missed this one, where on earth have you been?! I’ve been blown away at the response to our most ambitious campaign to date and I wanted to share a few thoughts on this record-breaking moment of our charity’s history.
It’s really a beautiful reflection of British Muslims that wherever you go in this country, to communities rich or poor, you will find sisters and brothers with open hearts, ever-ready to pour out their hard-earned money for those in need. I could tell you story upon story of donors who have left me speechless in the face of their astounding level of generosity and just as you can count on Muslims to be generous beyond measure, you can count on them to be even more humble about it!
Humility is a beautiful character in our faith, in fact the Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings upon him, described it as the very hallmark of Islam. What this means is so much of our giving goes under reported and I think for the most part this beautifully reflects on the nature of our Muslim communities; day in, day out; giving, serving, building and bridging hearts and minds. At least in this regard, we are people who walk the walk but we must also be people who can talk the talk too.
One of my friends joked to me once that the secret to good PR is ‘PYAR’ (that’s the urdu/hindi word for love!) ‘Love the message that you have,’ he passionately went onto say, ‘and love for the people to know what it is you have to say.’ Muslim organisations have, right at their fingertips, enough feel good, positive, cheerful news to fill every newspaper in the land. Instead, what do we see reported in our mainstream media? Day after day, the same depressing, misinformed, misleading, sensationalist slander about our faith.
In the face of this, Penny Appeal resolved this year that just as we are committed to make a positive difference in people’s lives, so too should we be committed to ensure that we are being seen to make this positive change too. We all have to ensure the stories that are told about Muslims of Britain, reflect the beauty, kindness and sense of responsibility that is at the heart of our lived experience as British Muslims.
What better season to do that then during the winter. We know at Penny Appeal, that the poorest in our midst are particularly vulnerable during this time of the year. Every day, tens of thousands of families in the UK turn to food banks for support, more and more people are sleeping rough on our freezing cold streets, elderly people feel more isolated than ever before and so on and so forth, the list goes on. Thus, our Winter Emergency programme will be providing frontline support and reaching out to those in greatest need regardless of faith or background. Providing In excess of 20,000 meals to homeless and vulnerable people by way of hot food provisions and family food parcels, distributing 500+ winter warmer packs to rough sleepers containing basic essentials, our teams will be hosting tea parties for the elderly in our effort to combat loneliness and isolation as well as reaching out to sick children in hospital with festive gifts providing a positive and enriching environment for them to mix in.
To celebrate this momentous contribution from British Muslim communities – in other words, to ‘talk’ the ‘talk’ after ‘walking the ‘walk’ – we launched this week our bold new #AsBritishAs campaign. With a moving advert on ITV and Channel 5 at the heart of the campaign, this is the first time a Muslim charity has been featured as such on terrestrial channels. The adverts were first screened on Christmas Eve and will finish on New Year’s Eve. In conjunction with the TV adverts, our poster campaign also went live this past week in tube stations across the capital with the strapline, “As British As a Cup of Tea.
Tea is the iconic drink of Britain and yet it comes from the East. Likewise, our faith may have come from the East but as British Muslims, we’re at home in Britain and proudly so. We set about asking British Muslims to get involved and reach out on their social media on Christmas eve to tell people what they’re “#AsBritishAs” – the response was phenomenal.
Within an hour we were trending across the UK on twitter, eventually reaching the coveted ‘number 2’ spot, just behind Christmas Eve itself! Well known personalities as well as members of the public chimed in with the social media conversations ultimately reminding us that we can all come together to make a positive difference and it starts with a smile and a nice cup of tea! The best posts were able to remind us that Britain is at its best an amalgamation of cultural contributions from all over the world. While Islam may have arisen from the East, it’s universality meant that the faith married with local culture to remain dynamic and ever-contemporary, much like a cup of tea!
Once again, I’ve been humbled by our incredible team, from our programme staff on the ground helping those in real need to our marketing gurus who have been able to orchestrate an incredible campaign, together we have a new bar for our industry and indeed ourselves.
So, what are you waiting for? Get involved! The hashtag, #AsBritishAs is still floating around the ether-web and most importantly, if you’re able to donate towards Penny Appeal’s Winter Campaign, please visit www.pennyappeal.org/ or call 03000 11 11 11
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