BRADFORDIANS have found hope and "confidence" through a new project to counteract the impact of the pandemic.

Dream Big Aim High was launched by Cllr Fozia Shaheen (Toller, Labour) in light of covid-19 as a 'one stop shop' to access services at organisations across Bradford district.

Based at Girlington Community Centre, it helps those in need of support for mental health, learning disabilities, learning, education, fitness and employment as well as young people.

Hafsah Khery, who lives in Barkerend, is one of many Bradfordians to benefit from a new project at Girlington Community Centre. Hafsah moved to Bradford in 2007 and worked hard to get college qualifications and later a degree while raising her children.

The mum-of-three, who is from the Sudanese community, first met the centre's volunteers after requesting a food parcel in June last year. After noticing the difference she could make to her community, she is now working at the Khidmat Centre and getting parcels out to those who need them.

Reflecting on how the pandemic had affected her life, Hafsah said: "It's changed me to be honest. At the beginning I have anxiety, feeling alone, I can't see anyone.

"You have to work as a teacher, you have to be a mum, everybody's at home but at least I took it as a positive thing. Being with my kids more and more and understand them more.

"Before I was scared to go out but I have someone to give the parcel every week. It's helped me go for shopping.

"A new job, a new life. It's something that give me more confidence. I have to help my children, I have to stand up.

"I feel now more confident, I can fight for everything. I feel I can fight anything in my life.

"The organisation has helped me so much since the pandemic. They support me, they support my family. I'm from Sudanese community, we help single mum's. We've been helping people like this. The single mum's, they need help.

"I want to support my community. I want to say get out and get help. You will be more confident. Don't be scared, don't be shy. Our culture, the language barrier, is the main thing. I did it. I have kids. The language barrier, I feel proud of myself to speak another language. Nothing will stop you."

Nasreen, who did not want to give her full name, says the project has helped her talk about mental health with professionals as well as boost her wellbeing with free Zoom Zumba classes.

Nasreen said: "It was a real struggle, especially last year. We were expecting we were going to get back to our normal routine. Thinking about it's not finishing, it just got worse from there really.

"I was so used to working with people outside and doing things with them. I was missing all that, being with them and I can't explain really how it just affected me. Most of the time I was just crying.

"You can't meet family, you can't get out, you can't meet friends. Being alone in the room, that affected me.

"People are struggling with finance things. I'm still worried about that.

"With the pandemic I've lost my confidence. It's pushed me back a bit."

In a message to anyone who feels this way now, Nasreen urged others to open up to their family members and ask them for support.

"People need to stay positive and don't lose hope," she said.