The picture shows attendees at the annual Ramadan iftar by British Asian Trust. — Provided by the reporter
The picture shows attendees at the annual Ramadan iftar by British Asian Trust. — Provided by the reporter 

LONDON: United Kingdom’s King Charles III’s charity, British Asian Trust, raised over £250,000 through the annual Ramadan iftar appeal for mental health patients in Pakistan and Bangladesh.

British Asian Trust Chief Executive Richard Hawkes announced that the funds will be spent on the much-needed initiatives being run in Pakistan and Bangladesh, on instructions of King Charles III. 

The British Asian Trust was founded in 2007 by King Charles III (when he was the Prince of Wales) and a group of British Asian entrepreneurs, to tackle poverty, inequality and injustice in South Asia. 

Richard Hawkes announced that Geo News will be working with the king’s charity to highlight the issues of mental health as a media partner. King Charles III’s special message was read out during the evening, congratulating Muslims on celebrating the holy month of Ramadan and showing solidarity with them. The king also vowed to continue working for humanitarian causes in countries like Pakistan.

Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, was one of many prominent British Muslims attending the British Asian Trust’s annual iftar at the London Grosvenor Marriot Hotel. 

Other notable guests included government minister Lord Tariq Ahmad, Baroness Sayeeda Warsi, High Commissioner of Pakistan to the UK Dr Mohammad Faisal, Pakistani actor Sanam Saeed and hundreds of prominent figures from the British Asian community.

The iftar attracted a diverse gathering of 350 guests from the South Asian Muslim diaspora, including celebrities, philanthropists, entrepreneurs, business leaders, professionals, and the trust’s ambassadors. The event highlighted the often unspoken and invisible struggle of mental health issues and raised funds for the trust’s vital mental health programmes in Pakistan and Bangladesh.

Mayor Sadiq said that Ramadan is a time for charity and giving and this year the British Asian Trust has put together another wonderful iftar event to support those in need with mental health services.

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan speaking at British Asian Trust event. — Provided by the reporter
Mayor of London Sadiq Khan speaking at British Asian Trust event. — Provided by the reporter

“His Majesty King Charles III does a lot of work in India, Sri Lanka Pakistan and Bangladesh. Today’s fundraising event will help those suffering from mental ill health. In this country, we have a Christian king, a Hindu Lord Jitesh Gadhia is chairman of the British Asian Trust and I am a Muslim mayor of London. Muslims, Hindus and Christians are working together to raise funds for help those who suffer from mental health conditions in Pakistan and Bangladesh,” Sadiq told Geo News.

The London mayor said he was visiting mosques and churches and other places of worship in Ramadan to show to the people what Muslims stand for — charity, love, humanity and Islam’s inclusiveness.

Tory government minister, Lord Tariq Ahmed, said that UK and Pakistan have close relations. 

“Nearly 1.5 million Pakistani live in the UK. We have been raising funds for education and health in Pakistan. The King is recovering but he is very passionate about his work in South Asia and has sent a special message for tonight. The UK government is very keen to enhance relations with Pakistan,” he said.

British Asian Trust Chief Executive Richard Hawkes said: “The British Asian Trust has been working to improve the lives of people with mental health issues for over a decade. Our work aims to fundamentally change the mental health landscape by destigmatising and raising awareness of mental health, promoting accessible and affordable services for all and building coalitions of support to drive change. I’m so pleased that over 300 of our friends and supporters joined us tonight to rally behind this.”

The picture shows attendees at the annual Ramadan iftar by British Asian Trust. — Provided by the reporter
The picture shows attendees at the annual Ramadan iftar by British Asian Trust. — Provided by the reporter 

“We are tankful to our supporters from the Pakistani and other communities who have made this event a success. We will be raising awareness in Pakistan on mental health issues in collaboration with Geo’s multi-media channels over the years. There is a mental health crisis throughout the world. The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates one in four people have mental health issues. The challenges in South Asia are huge because there are very few services and not much support. There are a lot of stigmas attached too, so what we are doing is to raise awareness about the issue. We are trying to get more doctors and professionals to deal with it and more people to talk about it,” he told Geo News. 

British Asian Trust’s Hitan Mehta said the mental health is a huge in South Asian countries. 

“The British Asian Trust has been working in this area and invested in this since 2013. It’s an area that we have been very concerned about. One in five Pakistanis will be affected by mental heath issues. There are only 400 government trained psychiatrists to deal with it. There is a huge problem to deal with,” he told Geo News. 

Actor Sanam Saeed, who is the Trust’s Ambassador in Pakistan, said: “Pakistan has a growing mental health crisis with 50 million people estimated to experience mental health issues but unable to access support due to stigma, and lack of awareness and services. We need to encourage conversations to shine light on mental health issues, so people can stop suffering silently and seek the help they need.”

Pakistani actor Sanam Saeed speaking at British Asian Trust event. — Provided by the reporter
Pakistani actor Sanam Saeed speaking at British Asian Trust event. — Provided by the reporter

Former Minister and Tory Chair, Sayeeda Warsi, told Geo News that mental health is often ignored and brushed aside. “Often when we look at the health issue, we think only about. heart diseases, diabetes, cancer and other serious issues. We ignore mental health issues, there is a saying that if your mind is broken nobody sees it but if your arm is broken everyone sees it. It’s really important that in this age and day we take seriously issues of mental health, depression, anxiety. These are widespread in our diaspora community in the UK and in Pakistan.”

The evening was hosted by BBC broadcaster and British Asian Trust Ambassador Asad Ahmad. Other notable guests at the event included Baroness Shaista Gohir OBE, Rushanara Ali, MP for Bethnal Green and Bow Mahmood Shaikhani, Shadow Minister (Investment and Small Business) and MP for Birmingham, Ladywood Shabana Mahmood.



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