Oxford City Council and the Central Oxford Mosque have teamed up to provide food for those in need ahead of Ramadan during the coronavirus pandemic.
Ramadan, which is expected to start on Friday or Saturday (depending on the first sighting of the new moon), is one of the holiest months of the year for Muslims.
Alongside fasting during daylight hours, Muslims observing Ramadan also pray, give to charity and spend time with family.
Food package for those in need
The City Council will support the Central Oxford Mosque to donate 150 food packages to those most in need within the Muslim community in Oxford.
The food packages – which are Halal and contain a wide range of essential food supplies, including rice, flour, oil, dates, tinned tomatoes and chickpeas – are aimed at vulnerable or low income Muslim families to enable them to close and open their fast during the month of Ramadan.
However, the food is available to anyone in need of assistance at this time – regardless of the individual’s faith.
The City Council and the Central Oxford Mosque have jointly funded the project, and the City Council is supporting the distribution of the food using its Contact Centre, Locality Response Hubs and drivers.
Every food pack will also contain a leaflet from the City Council explaining the wide range of other support available in Oxford during the coronavirus pandemic.
The Central Oxford Mosque, supported by the City Council, aim to deliver all 150 food packages this week – before Ramadan starts.
Around one in six residents of Oxford identifies as Muslim.
Closing fast during Ramadan
One of the key parts of the celebration is for Muslims to come together at sundown to close their fast.
In Oxford, many families would either come together as a family or head to one of the city’s mosques to close their fast together.
However, with the coronavirus pandemic this is no longer possible.
The Central Oxford Mosque, supported by the City Council, is therefore planning to offer a hot food collection or delivery service for its community during Ramadan, if that extra support is needed.
How people access the support
Muslims in Oxford can access the food packages by contacting the City Council’s Single Point of Contact for vulnerable people to ask for the extra help during the coronavirus pandemic.
There are two ways of contacting the single point of contact:
- Call the Contact Centre on 01865 249 811
- Complete the online Community Assistance form
Those contacting the Single Point of Contact will need to explain that they are Muslim, live in Oxford, and are in need of Halal food during the month of Ramadan.
The City Council is using its contacts within the Pakistani, Bangladeshi, Kurdish, Iraqi, Syrian and Sudanese communities to spread the word so that the most vulnerable people are supported. A particular focus is ensuring that Syrian refugees in Oxford are aware of the support available.
Wider support for Oxford residents
Separately, the City Council and Oxford Hub are distributing food and medication to vulnerable families in Oxford. In the last month, the City Council has received more than 1,000 requests for support from Oxford residents.
The City Council has also launched an online directory of essential support available in Oxford to help residents deal with the financial impact of the coronavirus pandemic, and an activities hub with advice for residents on exercise, mental help and other activities.
All the support services, alongside information about how Oxford residents can volunteer to help, can be found on our Coronavirus pages.
Muslim Council of Britain guidance
The Muslim Council of Britain has issued guidance about how families can adapt Ramadan under the coronavirus restrictions.
The advice includes top tips for Ramadan at home, including home and virtual iftars, and if available on the Muslim Council of Britain website.
For the latest guidance and information from the Central Oxford Mosque, please visit the Central Oxford Mosque Facebook page.
Faisal Aziz, Central Oxford Mosque committee member, said: “As a community we can always make the best of a bad situation.
“We are delighted that Oxford City Council, the Oxford Hub and our beloved Mosque have come together for the purpose of serving everyone in our community. We would like to emphasise that this is open to people of all faiths and those of none.
“The Mosque has also set up a separate fund to assist in our COVID-19 response initiative"
Councillor Marie Tidball, Cabinet Member for Supporting Local Communities, said: “Ramadan is a time when families come together and share food, and we know that, with the coronavirus pandemic, this is going to be an incredibly difficult month for many people in Oxford.
“That is why we decided to team up with the Central Oxford Mosque to provide food for those most in need – to show that, if people can’t be physically with their community, the community can support each other in really important ways.
“If you know anyone who could benefit from the extra support during the month of Ramadan – whether or not they are Muslim – please encourage them to contact us by phoning 01865 249811.
“Finally, I would like to wish all our Muslim communities Ramadan Mubarak.”