A UNIVERSITY of Bradford fund set up to support students who are struggling amid the pandemic has now raised over £10,000.

The Emergency COVID-19 Hardship Appeal reached the milestone - just a month after its launch - after a number of generous donations from alumni, staff and members of the community.

Money raised will be used to support some of the poorest students, many of whom have little or no means of income other than working part-time - something many have been unable to do during lockdown.

The news comes as volunteers from Bradford-based organisation the VIP (Volunteering Interfaith Programme) gave up their time and even spent their own money to launch a meal giveaway to students.

VIP founder Javed Bashir, who was made an honorary doctor of the university last month, stressed the importance of supporting students who may be in need.

He said: “As lockdowns and tiered restrictions continue, we are responding by supporting the university with its appeal to enable students who are facing financial hardship to get the support they need.

"We encourage the community to support students, who are often forgotten, by supporting the Emergency COVID-19 Hardship Appeal.”

University of Bradford Vice Chancellor, Professor Shirley Congdon, also said: “I want to express my sincere thanks to everybody who has donated to our Emergency COVID-19 Hardship Appeal, and I also thank the VIP for funding and distributing meals to students over the festive period.

"Both initiatives show just how much our alumni and wider community have come together to ensure the welfare of our students, at what continues to be an extremely difficult time."

Professor Zahir Irani, Deputy Vice-Chancellor at the University of Bradford, added: “Many students rely on family support and part-time work to ensure they are financially stable. With restrictions imposed, many job opportunities are no longer available.

"This has had a big impact on students and their families. So, it’s really encouraging when parts of the community work in partnership with us, to support our student community. I am really pleased to be working with VIP.”

Several VIP members added that charity is also an important part of their religious beliefs.

Nirmal Singh Sekhon MBE, Chairman of Yorkshire Sikhs Forum, said: “Sikhism teaches that everyone is equal and that people living in poverty and suffering should be helped”, while Manoj Johshi, a former District Governor of Rotary International and an honorary graduate of the university, added: “I am Hindu, and for us, giving is an important part of one’s religious duty".

Reverend Nathan Javed, of GBM Churches, said: "Christians believe that Jesus taught us to love god and to love thy neighbour. Charity is not an optional extra, but an essential component of my faith", and Mohammed Zubair, of Masjid Quba, Manningham, added: “Zakat, or charity, is the third pillar of Islam. It is important that the Muslim community fulfils their charitable duty correctly and does their part in supporting students".

A video on the appeal can be seen here.