While the festive period brings happiness and joy to many, it can be one of the most difficult and challenging times for those unfortunate enough to find themselves sleeping rough.
But last month, Aberdeen’s Muslim community helped soften the blow of the freezing temperatures by funding 1,000 meals which were handed out to the city’s homeless.
Aberdeen Muslims, a community organisation representing those of the Islamic faith across the Granite City, managed to smash a £5,000 target which it donated to local homeless charity, Aberdeen Cyrenians.
Sumon Hoque, who founded the group, said: “This has been a fantastic initiative for everyone. We were surprised by the diversity of the contributions, it allowed people of all faiths or background to do their bit for the homeless in Aberdeen.
“When we look at the harsh weather conditions in the north-east of Scotland just now, it gives you an idea of the hardship homeless people must be going through.”
The group raised funds through a variety of means, including food sales, bucketing at local mosques, and donations from local businesses, including Splash Autocare on North Anderson Drive.
Mr Hoque added: “Being charitable is our duty as Muslims and it is a great way of combating the rise of Islamophobia.
“By using social activities, like the winter appeal, we can show that Muslims are not an insular community, but part of the solution of a more harmonious society.
“We as Muslims in Aberdeen need to be confident in expressing our Islam and Scottish identity in a clear and compassionate way to remove the many misconceptions that exist around us as a community.”
Last night, Aberdeen Cyrenians praised the group for its efforts.
Scott Baxter, deputy chief executive of the charity, said: “We have worked with the local Muslim community in the past, but this is the first time we have officially partnered up and we were ecstatic with the response.
“We have benefited by being able to provide over 1,000 extra meals to our service users. Aberdeen Cyrenians are going through turbulent times with nearly 50% of our funding cut and we see this as the start of an ongoing relationship with the Muslim community.”