IN just 12 months, one Blackburn-based charity has raised £3million for good causes in the UK, and overseas. Hannah Al-Othman talks to Abdussamad Mulla, country director of Al-Imdaad Foundation UK, and the charity’s international project co-ordinator Zubair Valimulla, about their achievements, and their plans for the future...

DESPITE having a staff of just five people, and modest premises in Ripon Street, in Blackburn, the Al-Imdaad Foundation, which translates from Arabic as ‘the Help Foundation’, has managed to achieve rather a lot since it opened in the UK four years ago.

The past year has seen the charity deliver aid to refugees in war-torn Syria, provide a specialist cardiac machine for a hospital in an impoverished part of rural India, offer emergency relief in the Philippines during the devastating Typhoon Haiyan, support struggling local families through Blackburn food bank, fund educational establishments in disaster-struck Indonesia following a volcanic eruption, and raise thousands of pounds towards Blackburn mayor Salim Mulla’s appeal to buy new dialysis machines for the Royal Blackburn Hospital.

And that list is not exhaustive - Al-Imdaad has funded, and executed, countless other projects around the UK, and across the world.

The charity’s ethos centres around providing emergency disaster relief, wherever it is required, but Al-Imdaad has also branched out and offered support to other needy causes, in a wide range of areas, from health, to education, and homelessness.

Although it is an Islamic charity, Al-Imdaad helps people who are in need, regardless of their colour, creed, religion, or ethnicity.

And the charity has also received donations from all sections of the community, and from people of all faiths, and none.

Abdussamad Mulla said it was difficult to say which of the charity’s numerous projects had been the most rewarding.

He said: “It’s hard to just choose one project, but one of the highlights has been to see the UK’s first containerised village for refugees in Syria.

“But also it was important for us to be able to support the UK flood victims and to be there straight away.”

Zubair Valimulla added that all of the projects had touched him in some way. He said: “Only when you go out in person, do you see the true reality. It’s an eye opener, it really, really makes you wonder.”

Going forward, the charity has more big plans. It will continue to support refugees in Syria, plans to grow its charity work in the UK - including working with Blackburn foodbank, and will expand a current project providing water wells in Bangladesh, India, and Malawi.

But even though the charity continues to grow, its directors are determined that it will continue to be based right here in Blackburn.

Mr Valimulla said: “We’re Blackburn born and bred, We grew up here, we went to school here, and it’s where the charity is based.”

And the charity is helping to put Blackburn on the map, gaining international recognition for the town within the voluntary sector, and beyond.

Mr Mulla said: “People are recognising us, even though we’re only in our fourth year. Maybe in the next 12 months we’ll have to take on more staff. At the moment they’re working seven days. They go beyond their contracted hours because they work from the heart, and go above and beyond so that they can make a bigger difference.”

Mr Valimulla added: “In ten years time, we’d just want to keep going. There’s always more that’s required. What we do is just a drop in the ocean. We just want to make a difference, and put a smile back on people’s faces.”