Cardiff’s Al-Ikhlas Culture and Education Centre, which has been helping hundreds of vulnerable people in the community during the COVID-19 crisis, features in the fourth episode of The National Lottery’s Good News Bulletin – a weekly round-up of feel-good stories hosted by renowned comedian, Joe Wilkinson.

From communities rallying together to provide BBQs for a whole village to everyday heroes helping those most in need, the National Lottery Good News Bulletin features, celebrates and thanks the people and projects across the UK that have been using National Lottery funding to support their communities during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

In this week’ bulletin, the National Lottery funded Al-Ikhlas Culture and Education Centre based in Adamsdown, Cardiff, showcase how they have been using National Lottery funding to extend their foodbank provision to help address high levels of food poverty in the local community since the outbreak of COVID-19. Their very busy foodbank now serves over 200 people a week.

With National Lottery support, the centre has also been providing a food parcel delivery service for refugees and those struggling to make ends meet. They have also been picking up prescriptions and shopping for older and vulnerable people in the community who are unable to leave their home as a result of the pandemic.

Established in 2013, the Al Ikhlas Culture and Education Centre is committed to maximising community benefits and providing social, religious and emotional support for people in the community. The centre fosters interfaith relationships and promotes religious harmony in Cardiff and the surrounding area. It helps those most in need and provides essential support to a large number of young people through leisure-time activities.

Highlighting the work they have been able to deliver with the support of the National Lottery, Ahmed Ali Al-khulaidy, Imam and Project Leader of the Al-Ikhlas Culture and Education Centre, says:

“The National Lottery hasn’t just helped us going through the pandemic, it also helped us to establish the food bank here in the centre around eleven months ago, along with various other organisations. 

During the COVID-19 outbreak, we have used the funding to continue to maintain and provide a foodbank service for those who need it most in our area. Our proudest moment is when we see the smiles we have put on the faces of those we help, and the positive feedback from the residents surrounding the centre. 

We are proud to be a source of help, hope and sanctuary for those who need it most. We have managed to make the whole community engaged, regardless of their faith, culture or background, and bringing everyone together has made us feel very fortunate– especially at a time when unity is required.

Before National Lottery funding, we had no means of financial resources. The funding gave us the confidence and the ability to deliver in the community and we want to thank National Lottery players for this help.” 

The local Muslim population in Adamsdown has grown in recent years such that it is difficult to accommodate the growing demand for Friday and Ramadhan prayer space, education classes, and other cultural and religious activities. The local Muslims in the area were originally mainly from South Asia. The area now has become more diverse with many Muslims from Bangladesh, Pakistan, Somalia, Eritrea, Nigeria, Sudan, Morocco, Syria and other various Arab countries.

Their intention is for Al Ikhlas Culture and Education Centre to cater for the growing needs of our diverse local community and to build bridges with wider society. Over the past years, the Centre which includes prayer facilities has also strengthened its relationship with those from other faith communities. The Centre cooperates with the local authorities and has had visits from Cardiff’s mayor, the MCW, the police and local councillors.

To find out more about the centre, just go here. AL IKHLAS

Presenter Joe Wilkinson, star of Netflix series After Life with Ricky Gervais and 8 out of 10 Cats Does Countdown, added:

“Thanks to National Lottery players, up to £600 million has been made available to help communities throughout the UK amid the coronavirus crisis. The Good News Bulletin features how people and projects have rallied together to support each other during lockdown. I promise you there won’t be any zoom quizzes or online Zumba but just a few heart-warming stories and terrific tales of, well, good news and great people.”

The National Lottery’s Good News Bulletin is hosted by comedian Joe Wilkinson

Thirty million pounds is raised every week on average by National Lottery players for projects big and small across the country.  Since the outbreak of COVID-19, The National Lottery has announced support packages of up to £600 million across arts, sports, heritage, education and the environment. 

It is in fact the second time that Joe has delivered some good news here in South Wales. Only recently he delivered just that to the Carmarthen Youth Project, with the help of a real Welsh favourite. Dr.M’z, features in the second episode of The National Lottery’s Good News Bulletin.

The Carmarthen Youth Project – Dr.M’z, based in Friars Park, showcase how, during lockdown, they have used National Lottery funding to kick start a youth group (age 11-25) drop in centre for people who identify as LGBTQ+ and were being bullied. Dr.M’z has also adapted and enhanced all its services for all young people as they respond to COVID-19.

Gayle Harris is the Project Manager at Carmarthen Youth Project – Dr.M’z, and was surprised on a Zoom call by none other than local celebrity and comedian, Rhod Gilbert.

Without Gayle knowing, Rhod, who grew up in Carmarthen, jumped on the call arranged by the National Lottery to say “congratulations” and to thank Gayle and the team for the hard work and “the wonderful facilities and support the group provides for young people in the local community.

Gayle told us……

“It was absolutely amazing to see Rhod pop up on the call – we are delighted that our work for young people is being recognised and we can’t thank National Lottery players enough for the funding we have been given to set up an LGBTQ+ youth group.”

Gayle Harris on a Zoom call with Rhod Gilbert

“We’ve had to adapt all of our services during lockdown and make everything digital, including online cooking classes, quizzes, writing competitions – you name it. As lockdown restrictions ease, we are now looking to host cooking lessons in the car park and local parks, holding gardening sessions around town and organising health and wellbeing walks and bike rides around Carmarthen – so thank you to The National Lottery for all your support.”

The team at the project have worked hard during the pandemic. They have been able to have adapted all their services during lockdown and have made everything digital, including online cooking classes, quizzes, writing competitions. To find out more about the project in Carmarthen, just go to their Facebook page here. Dr.M’z.

Carmarthen Youth Project aims to promote the best interests of young people (aged 11 – 25) from Carmarthen and the surrounding rural areas. They do this by providing a safe, educational, informative and stimulating environment for young people to meet and interact. Being in this ‘leisure’ setting helps the young people to develop their physical, mental, emotional and spiritual capacities.

Comedian Joe Wilkinson, who presented bulletin said…..

“Thanks to National Lottery players, up to £600 million has been made available to help communities throughout the UK amid the coronavirus crisis. The Good News Bulletin features how people and projects have rallied together to support each other during lockdown. I promise you there won’t be any zoom quizzes or online Zumba but just a few heart-warming stories and terrific tales of, well, good news and great people.”

The National Lottery’s Good News Bulletin is hosted by comedian Joe Wilkinson

The Bulletin launches as The National Lottery closed nominations on its search for nominees for the 2020 National Lottery Awards. This year the annual search for the UK’s most popular National Lottery funded projects will, for the first time, honour individuals who have made an extraordinary impact in their community especially those who have adapted during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

You can watch more National Lottery bulletins, and Joe, HERE.

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