British-Pakistanis join Conservative MP Daly as volunteers to fight coronavirus

MANCHESTER: British-Pakistani youths have teamed up with James Barry Daly, a Conservative member of the UK Parliament from Bury, in delivering ready-made food, face masks, and other essential equipment to workers of the National Health Service (NHS) at Fairfield General Hospital.

Over the past two weeks, Daly and his team — comprising Shahbaz Arif and Khalid Hussain — have inspired a grassroots movement, which has emerged as a bid to help fill a gap in the food and domestic supplies by bypassing traditional procurement protocols and getting critical items directly to those who need them most.

Employing non-traditional means, such as social media — Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram — as well as text messages and email, his team of volunteers have found creative ways to distribute supplies in Bury. As the toll from coronavirus pandemic continues to mount, the already-dwindling stockpiles of equipment, from toilet paper to face masks, have been stretched far thinner.

The Fairfield Hospital gladly accepted a van full of toilet paper and bottled water, donated generously by Pakistani-origin local supermarket owner Farooq Khalid. “It was important for me to do something to help our NHS staff so that they can continue to effectively treat patients,” Khalid said.

The Muslim Friends of Britain (MfB) have prepared and distributed fully-prepared meals to the NHS medics at the same hospitals. Shopkeepers Shah and Mahmood have donated food supplies earmarked for local care homes to Bury Council’s community hub at Castle Leisure Centre.

Supporting Sisters (SS), a Bury-based charity, has teamed up with the MP to sew face masks and deliver them to frontline and key healthcare workers free of cost. “We felt we had to do something when our MP appealed for face masks,” one of their volunteers, Sameah, told Geo.tv.

“We managed to form a network of Christian and Muslim ladies in Bury to sew hundreds of face masks to WHO standards”.

Speaking to Geo.tv, MP Daly said: “The idea is to take rapid action where we can get all those supplies and face masks safely in the places where they’re most needed.

“I am amazed at the generosity of kind-hearted people in my constituency. I want to encourage everyone to do their bit in helping the NHS and our frontline workers.

“Together, we will overcome this pandemic,” the lawmaker said.

Arif, a member of Daly’s volunteer task force, said he was “delighted” at how so many young people offered to join them. “If someone wants to join as a volunteer, they can contact us through social media,” he added.

The coronavirus pandemic has caused massive social upheaval in the UK, with over 47,000 people infected and almost 5,000 dead. While schools have been closed and widespread lockdowns imposed, communities across Britain have banded together in the face of a risk of system breakdown, stepping up to volunteer, organize, and strategize how to immediately help those who need it most.

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