Dewsbury-based charity's Covid response still going strong - 15 months on

The founder of a Dewsbury-based crisis response charity has praised volunteers who have gone above and beyond during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Sunday, 6th June 2021, 8:00 am
The Moonlight Trust in Dewsbury has been delivering and distributing food parcels and essential supplies to families and individuals in North Kirklees since the start of the pandemic

Noushin Aslam, CEO of the Moonlight Trust, wants to thank the 50 or so volunteers who stepped up to help in March 2020 – and are still going strong.

The Moonlight Trust, which prides itself on being a female-led charity, usually helps deprived communities and refugees in countries such as Greece, northern France, Turkey, Bangladesh and Pakistan.

But at the start of the global pandemic it looked closer to home, delivering and distributing food parcels and essential supplies to families and individuals in North Kirklees.

The trust prides itself on being led by women

Noushin said: “This project was only meant to be temporary.

“Like everyone I thought Covid would only last for three months and it would be over.

“We never thought it would last for more than a year and I just want to thank the volunteers for what they have done.

“We have around 50 volunteers, with about 20 of them active at any one time.

The Moonlight Covid Crisis Response has been run out of Thornhill Lees Community Centre and since March last year has helped and supported more than 4,000 people

“We have people packing food and delivering parcels and others who help with other tasks like social media and marketing.”

Noushin said the volunteers had proved determined and resilient in the face of their own hardships and personal tragedies.

“Our volunteers have carried on when their own family members were dying and they have gone out and put themselves at risk at times when everyone was told to stay at home.

“Covid has affected everyone in one way or another and my own mum was in hospital for three weeks on a ventilator. Despite all this our volunteers continued.”

Coun Masood Ahmed with Noushin Aslam

The Moonlight Covid Crisis Response has been run out of Thornhill Lees Community Centre and since March last year has helped and supported more than 4,000 people with not only food and hygiene products but also practical support and referrals for mental health issues and counselling.

The charity has helped a wide range of people in need from the elderly and disabled to women and children fleeing domestic violence at home.

Moonlight teamed up with Dewsbury South councillors, led by Coun Masood Ahmed, who helped identify those in genuine need.

The charity has spent around £30,000 helping people so far but also received food supplies from other charitable organisations including Batley Food Bank.

Funding was also provided by One Community, the Kirklees community foundation; the Phoenix Fund, an emergency fund to provide emergency grants to black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) communities across England, supported by the Global Fund for Children and the National Lottery; and Kirklees Council.

The trust also:

Worked with five local schools – Pentlands, Savile Town Infants, Thornhill Lees Infants, Headfield Juniors and Overthorpe in Thornhill - to support the provision of lunches;

Collected leftovers from six other charities and food banks;

Provided winter survival packs for the homeless;

Provided mental health/counselling and referrals;

Supported more than 50 women from black and minority ethnic communities with mental health, resilience and employability skills.

During the holy month of Ramadan, the trust helped between 3,000 and 4,000 people in refugee camps in Calais and Bosnia.

Noushin praised the trust’s Muslim volunteers and said: “How people can fast for 17 hours and then go and work for free is remarkable to me.”

The Moonlight Trust, based in Nelson Street, Dewsbury, was founded by Noushin in memory of her brother Amaar, nicknamed Moon, who was robbed and killed in Crow Nest Park, Dewsbury, in 2008.

Noushin said: “He was called Moon because he was a shining light to us and he will bring light to those whose lives suffer from the darkness of poverty and oppression.”

At the peak of the pandemic the trust’s local Covid response was providing help for up to 300 people a week. Demand has now reduced and around 30 food parcels are going out, helping 150 people a week.

“Demand may have gone down but so many people have lost their jobs,” said Noushin, who has now become a public speaker and role model for young Asian women.

Noushin expects the Covid response to continue until at least September.

“With the Indian variant and the possibility of more restrictions, let’s just wait and see. We will continue for as long as people need us.”

Donations can be made at www.moonlighttrust.co.uk