Uzma Qureshi is one of HHUGS’ most dedicated volunteers. In this blog, she opens up about her work with HHUGS and how it helped her realise that happiness lies in serving others.
For the first twenty-odd years of my marriage, my sole focus was my family and managing the business I’d set up to put my children through private school.
Raising five children and running a house didn’t leave me with much time for anything else. By the time I was in my mid ‘50s, they were all married. Due to ill-health, I couldn’t continue running my business, so my husband took over for me.
For the first time in my life, I wasn’t a full-time mother and I wasn’t a businesswoman. I suddenly found myself with nothing to do, and I felt like I didn’t have any focus, so I fell into a state of depression.
It became more and more difficult to get out of bed in the mornings, and without really knowing how it happened, most days I found myself in bed all day long. My children were extremely concerned, as they’d never seen me like this. I’d always been so busy; so full of life and passion.
It was my children who suggested I should volunteer for HHUGS. One of my sons is a HHUGS board member and the other is a long-time supporter. Both of them felt like helping other families in their time of need would heal me.
They were right.
Volunteering gave me a sense of purpose again
Volunteering for HHUGS gave me a tremendous sense of purpose. It wasn’t really about me making a difference, it was the sense of worth that I got from lending an ear to HHUGS’ beneficiary families, and from being the friend they really needed.
A lot of these families have been abandoned by their own communities – and even relatives – so my support meant that much more to them.
Being a Keyworker means I’m the point of call for multiple families in my area, and I offer them emotional and practical support whenever they need it, by visiting and calling them.
Working with HHUGS has opened my eyes to the hardships some families in Britain endure on a daily basis. Seeing how brave and courageous they are is humbling. It really makes you self-reflect, and the issues in your own life pale into insignificance.
When I first started volunteering, I organised coffee mornings for beneficiaries. It was a chance for families to get together and socialise with people who understood what they were going through.
I wanted more! I decided to support the fundraising team by hosting my own charity breakfast. I raised over £500 by selling 30 tickets, and everyone who came got to enjoy some of the signature dishes I made for the occasion.
I even learned how to use JustGiving and raised money for the Race to Jannah campaign during Ramadan. I was worried I wouldn’t reach my £100 target, but I managed to raise much more Alhamdulillah: over £1500! I also did the sponsored Winter Walk with my husband and grandchildren, and sold merchandise to the community so I could raise even more to support the work of HHUGS.
I represented HHUGS on TV!
As much as I love fundraising, I still didn’t feel like I was doing enough, so I started working from the HHUGS office.
When I’m working in the office, I help with administrative tasks, I call beneficiaries, I organise our Eid parties, and I create the beneficiary packs. One day, I brought my grandchildren along and we worked on making the packs together. It was a real family affair!
I’ve been able to get involved with so much, but my greatest achievement was when I overcame my fears and appeared on Islam Channel Urdu, once with my son at my side and on another occasion with my husband, to talk about the amazing work they do and help them raise funds during their live TV Appeal
It was an unforgettable experience, and I feel privileged that HHUGS asked me to represent them. I hope I made them proud!
HHUGS offers tailored help to empower women and children
HHUGS is special because they put a lot of time into considering how best to help families. They focus on empowering women and children, rather than encouraging dependency. They do so much more than just handing out money.
There are lots of beneficiaries who don’t speak English, and HHUGS often pays for their English language classes to encourage independence and increase their confidence.
For those who can’t afford to visit their loved one in prison, HHUGS pays for their travel costs to ensure families still see each other.
True happiness comes from serving others
In all honesty, I always thought happiness would come from me owning property, or from my children being happily married with their own homes and good incomes.
But now that I’m close to my 60s, I’ve realised this isn’t my source of happiness.
True happiness comes from serving others, from helping someone in difficulty and being able to put a smile on their face, knowing that by the grace and mercy of Allah (swt), you were able to help in some small way.
If you’d like to make a difference too, become a HHUGS volunteer today.
Go to www.hhugs.org.uk/volunteer to find out more.