Updated: Nov 8, 2022
The packs were delivered to Oakwood prison in Wolverhampton.
Asha founder of Dreamchasers Youth Club, Nelly founder of AYO project and Naima brought the project together.
"BRINGING HOPE TO THOSE FORGOTTEN"
A group of women have produced hundreds of Ramadan packs for 'forgotten' Muslim prisoners. Including prayer mats, and spiritual books, the packs are designed to give support to those incarcerated during the Holy Month.
Nelly Hamed, founder of AYO project, a community initiative, along with Asha Ali Rage and her friend Naima from Dreamchasers Youth Club in Small Heath decided to create these Ramadan packs after witnessing the 'lack of guidance' for those who enter the criminal justice system. The 400 packs have prayer mats, dates, and spiritual books with prayer mats being the most popular amongst Muslim prisoners.
The contents of the packs were donated by local businesses. The women worked together to prepare and deliver the packages to HMP Oakwood prison in Wolverhampton.
They are aspiring to continue doing this project every Ramadan and even producing Eid packs. Asha told BirminghamLive : "For so many years I wanted to do a project like this but I didn't know what to do. Our aim is not only to take these packs inside the prison but also to support them when these prisoners come out to not re-offend again."
Naima, who is also involved in the project through Asha, shared her aim of helping the youth within the community came from a personal experience of what it's like behind bars. She told BirminghamLive : "There was a family friend where he went to prison and I knew his mother. But the family didn't have anyone here and they didn't speak English too - we were really worried. But we managed to release him for prison after a long time.
The packs have dates, spiritual books and prayer mat for the Muslim prisoners.
"But when we went to visit in prison, the security told me that they are surprised for us to visit as many of the prisoners don't have family who visit them. There are many young children in the prison but no one comes to visit them. This shocked me."
The women raised £1,000 with the help of other women in the community to buy the items needed for the packs. Nelly who has worked with prisoners on their mental health explained the impact packs like these have on Muslim prisoners.
Nelly told BirminghamLive : "I've been working within the mental heath within the prison and after meeting Asha we collaborated as I had the contacts in the prison and Asha had the women power to get the job done.
"A lot of the prisoners don't have a support network and they often feel isolated because of culture and the crime they have committed. So a lot of the family don't visit or are afraid to visit so their left and forgotten until they come out.
"This gives them the inspiration that someone cares for them out there."
Date: 28 April 2022