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The seed was planted in Calais when I first saw the reality of the situation for the refugees living in shacks at the Calais refugee camp, only a few hours away, many of them unaccompanied minors, orphans, pregnant women and elderly.
My mother Zubeda spent her entire life reminding me and my 4 siblings about her difficult journey to Canada where we immigrated to in the early 70’s to escape the poverty we lived in India. I still remember the stories she told us in detail, from the moment she boarded to reunite wth our father (who was had gone to Canada a year before to find work and save enough money to be able to fly his wife and kids over to be with him a year later), she reminded us that from the second she boarded the plane she relied on the kindness of strangers, from holding her distressed crying 6 month old, to offering her winter coats, to opening up their home to a family of 7 until they were able to find their feet and provide for themselves. Later when I was a mother myself, my mother Zubeda continued to share these stories with my own kids….there was never moment when she didn’t remind us the power of kindness from complete strangers, and its impact it had on our own survival. If it wasn’t for the kindness of these strangers, I would never have been in the position to found a charity helping others in need!
Hence, I named our charity after my mum, who lives in Canada with my dad, my siblings and her 6 grandchildren near by. Alhumdollilah even thousands of miles away she has supported Zubeda Welcome through fundraising and donations!
Zubeda Welcome was initially set up under the name “Resettling Refugees in the UK (RRUK) to help refugees find a country of safety through a government scheme called Vulnerable People’s Resettlement Scheme. Our family offered vacant properties to the council who worked with UNHCR to help resettle the most vulnerable families on the borders of campaign. From 2015-2017 I ran a campaign to raise awareness of the scheme and encourage landlords to take part in the scheme then later I directed my focus on the families I had helped bring over with essential survival needs in London because they came with nothing but the clothes they were wearing. We renamed the charity “North London Welcome” to fit the purpose, as we were helping the resettlement process of refugees in North London. By 2017 It became very evident to me that there was one essential need being overlooked, which was the need for the children of most of the Syrian families to continue their Islamic education which was disrupted when they were forced to flee their country. As I was only working with Syrian families at the time (who had arrived through VPRS) and I was able to relate to this as a muslim mother of three children of my own, I began to focus on their need for madrasa education. After offering it to a few families, the word spread and I began to get calls from others in nearby boroughs, Camden, Barnet, Hackney. As the number of applicants for funding increased so did my fundraising initiatives, we went from supporting 3 children to over 60 in just 4 years.
Now in our 5th year of serving refugee children, for the first time as a registered charity, our focus turns to the madrasa needs of all refugees across the UK as well as the asylum seekers who are housed temporarily in a given locarion as they await their fate.
Zubeda Welcome is committed to meet the Islamic education needs of all the refugees and asylum seekers across the UK, but we wont achieve this alone, we will need the support of many other charities, donors, funders and refugee support groups across the nation to connect the dots and make this happen!
2015: Our work started as we took collections of school materials and food supplies from our living room to Calais Refugee Camp “Jungle School”, warehouse and kitche
My kids helped me pack up our donations for my first volunteering experience at Calais Refugee Camp, May 2015.
At Calais Refuge Camp Jungle School, Jungle Kithcn and Jungle Warehous.
2016- 2017 Our non profit organisation Resettling Refugees in the UK focused on resettling refugees through official routes using the Vulnerable People's Resettlement Scheme, and raising awareness about the government scheme promised by the UK government to resettle 20,000 Syrian refugees by 2020.
I was asked to share my experience as a landlord renting to refugees for the media which I was happy to do in order to encourage landlords to do the same to bring refugee families to safety.
You can watch the full video explaining the Vulnerable People Resettlement scheme, contributions made by comedian Miranda Hart, actress Harriet Walter, Lord Alf Dubs and myself.
Click Here
You can watch the full documentary “Surviving 28 days” produced by Tommaso Mazzanti which describes the dire situation asylum in the UK face once they are granted refugee status and are given 28 days at a shared accommodation to find property to rent before becoming homeless.
Surviving 28 days on Vimeo
We held our first “Eat and Greet” gathering at the London Islamic Cultural Society and Mosque to create an opportunity introduce the for newly resettled refugee families to local organisations, resources and support available in the North London area, the event was sponsored by Nawaal Fund and a welcome speech was delivered by Mufti Abdul Rahman Mangera himself.
2017 til present
The main focus for Zubeda Welcome is to identify the refugees and asylum seekers who want to their children to have an Islamlic education but are not able to access due to financial or any other challenge.
We continue to develolp our fundraising strategies and build relationships with other charities, organisations, mosques and madrasas to find the most logical and cost-effective solutions to give access to good standard of Islamic education to refugee and asylum seeker children in the UK.
We continue to work on various means to raise awarness of the issue to maximise our support through social media, marketting and through taking the platform to share our work at events across the nation. Please contact us if you would like to invite one of our representatives attend as a speaker or fundraise or simply take a stall if you would like to support our Madrasa Fees For Refugees project.
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Our vision for the future:

Through building new partnerships and developing our fundraising strategies we aim to provide access to refugees and asylum seekers for communities across the whole of the United Kingdom, one community at a time, Insha’Allah. And when opportunities present themselves, we continue to offer our beneficiaries opportunities to be get involved in our initatives as volunteers in order to give them a sense of purpose and empowerment. Alhumdolillah, we currently have 5 parents of our refugee sponsorees who are active volunteers Zubeda Welcome. Despite their own challenges they continue to assist through offering us their IT skill and translation support.