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"I think it's really important that we put something back, especially supporting families in a deprived area, looking out for them, and just being there for one another."

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Ruby strikes gold with top community award

A teacher at one of Bradford’s most community-focused schools has been recognised for her extraordinary commitment to volunteering.

Iqra Academy, part of Feversham Education Trust, is hugely respected in the Manningham area of the city for being a community hub and a focal point for a wide range of social events.

But even by the school’s high standards, the tireless work of teacher Ruby Hussain stands out.

And now her selfless actions have now been recognised by the judges at the Bradford Schools Award, who singled her out for this year’s Community Prize.

Ruby who also acts as Iqra Academy’s mental health champion, has been interested in charity work since she was 15 and caught the volunteering bug 10 years ago when she spent time helping out at an orphanage in Pakistan.

Since then she has dedicated nearly all of her free time towards helping others, including arranging shopping trips for elderly ladies unable to get out of the Manningham area, putting on coaches to the seaside, fundraising for cancer charities and staffing mental health advice and support helplines.

She has even put her mental health experience to use on the airwaves, getting local children involved in a hospital radio show that was broadcast to 84 countries around the world.

During lockdown Ruby has been responsible for cooking up to 400 hot meals a day and distributing them to residents in need across the district.

“I’ve just always been interested in charity work from an early age,” says Ruby. “It just makes me happy to be able to help those less fortunate then myself.”

"I think it's really important that we put something back, especially supporting families in a deprived area, looking out for them, and just being there for one another.

“I’m also lucky to be able to work for a school which is right at the heart of the local community, providing support not just for the children but for their extended families and friends.”

Before COVID-19 struck, Iqra Academy acted as a community hub for a range of activities from organised walks and Zumba classes to monthly lunch clubs, health days, drop-in craft sessions and literacy events aimed at improving the ability of parents to help their children with homework.

Academy principal Shahnaz Anwar-Bleem explained: “We have always placed a huge emphasis on parental and community involvement and over the years this has just grown and grown. We now have over 300 parents accessing school events every year.

“By speaking to parents on a regular basis we get a good idea of the needs of the local community and we’re in a unique position to be able to help them in a sensitive way which doesn’t offend or patronise.”

Shahnaz is delighted at the recognition Ruby has received and believes the Community Award couldn’t have gone to a more deserving winner.

“Her work is really quite amazing and she’s an incredible asset to the school. We pride ourselves on being right at the heart of our local community and Ruby is the embodiment of that philosophy.”

The Iqra Academy team are continuing to look at ways they can support pupils and their families through lockdown and the economic effects it is having in the Manningham area.

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"I think it's really important that we put something back, especially supporting families in a deprived area, looking out for them, and just being there for one another."

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