A BRADFORD restaurateur is helping to change the lives of the poorest families affected by the earthquake in Kashmir with a £50,000 aid mission.

Jinnah CEO Saleem Akhtar has laid the foundations for 20 new homes after a magnitude 5.8 earthquake which devastated the Pakistani district last September.

The earthquake affected areas near the border between Azad Kashmir and Punjab, Mirpur and other areas surrounding the Mangla Dam.

Mr Akhtar explained that 16,000 homes were totally demolished in the disaster while 2,300 received damage of some kind.

At first many locals met his promises with suspicion before realising he had a team of builders on call.

The restaurant owner explained: "At first they thought 'you’re just coming here like many others - you’ll take some pictures but you’ll never do something'. I said 'I’m here to do the work'.

"I was the first person to ask for their ID cards. Then they started believing me.

"I was the first person to put a support in the ground.

"In Pakistan they’ll all promise but nobody made a start. I was the first British Pakistani to go out there and making a start.

"I could quite easily send the money but I didn’t want to."

Mr Akhtar had his plans and families' identities verified in 10 days.

"I did try to help widows and orphans and children," he explained.

One of the families benefitting from the charity work is a young woman and widowed elderly mum.

The women do all they can to survive - washing, cleaning and working in the fields.

The pair desperately need a roof over their heads with her daughter unable to get married due to money troubles.

The concerned mother told Mr Akhtar: 'I’ve got a young daughter but I can’t even get her married’.

Mr Akhtar had a rigorous selection process, speaking to locals about who they would nominate as well as guidance from Pakistani Ministers like Barrister Sultan, a local MP and the ex prime minister.

The restaurateur also helped a family with three children, who had been wearing the same clothes for over a month.

He explained: "I went to everybody in the village (who said) 'If there’s anybody in need he’s the person to help. He’s such a generous lad'. He’s got three children. He can’t afford to send them to school.

"As I know, the earthquake in 2005 - some people are still living under the open sky 16 years after. It’s always in my mind. I want to go back and help more n more."