The Eid boxes contain a copy of the Qur’an with an English translation; a prayer CD donated by the singer Yusuf Islam, formerly known as Cat Stevens; a journal; pens; halal marshmallows; an Eid card with messages of support from members of the Muslim community and a spare card to send to the prisoner’s family and friends.
Last year the Muslim Youth Helpline (MYH) won an award at the CSV Make a Difference Day Awards for its efforts rallying volunteers to pack the Eid gift boxes and to bring comfort to Muslims in jail. The awards honour people who have helped to change the lives of others in a single day of voluntary action.
This year, volunteers will pack the boxes on October 14 and 15 at the MYH offices in Finchley Road, north-west London.
Helpline worker Saheka Bagum said: “The gift boxes form part of the organisation’s campaign to identify and increase awareness of the needs of Muslim youth in prison and provide more efficient services for them. We hope it will encourage them to use the helpline.
“We also want to raise awareness of the need for Muslim prison chaplains and to encourage volunteering in prison chaplaincy services.”
The helpline was set up in 2001 to help vulnerable or distressed young Muslims cope with a wide range of social issues. Its confidential telephone and e-mail service is run by young people trained in counselling.
The service is funded through grants from organisations including Comic Relief, Peabody Community Fund and Yapp Charitable Trust and donations from the Muslim community.
The Eid gifts are being sponsored by Working links which helps offenders back into work, training and education. However, the MYH still needs to raise £25,000 and to gather 2,500 messages from members of the public. To donate or volunteer go to the charity’s website at www.myh.org.uk. Eid messages for Muslim prisoners can be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org. The helpline number is 0808 808 2008.