A 13-YEAR-OLD boy from Bradford is going above and beyond the call of duty by helping to deliver meals to elderly and vulnerable people in Manningham this Ramadan.

Mohammed Habib, a student at Oasis Academy Lister Park, said that the holy month involves "so much more than just abstaining from food and drink", and has encouraged others to help create a "sense of community" through charitable work.

Habib has been working with the Volunteering Interfaith Programme (VIP) - run by Strengthening Faith Institutions in partnership with Age UK Bradford District - which has helped to distribute meals to people in need, regardless of their beliefs, through its Sharing Ramadan initiative.

The team has been active since the start of the pandemic last year, and also aims to improve community cohesion.

"Ramadan is a fantastic time to reach out to our neighbours as family. I feel very happy to reach out to my neighbours who are elderly and living on their own", said Habib.

"I encourage all my friends to share whatever they have with their neighbours too - even if it is as little as a plate of dates - and to talk to them.

"Ramadan is so much more than just abstaining from food and drink. Let’s be part of creating that sense of community, wherever we live, through sharing this month."

Dr Javed Bashir, founder of the VIP, added that the project not only aims to support people in need, but is also a way of challenging some of the stereotypes people may have of British Muslims.

"Ramadan is a perfect time to break the shell of misconceptions, and Muslims need to speak to their neighbours, share meals and give gifts to represent the meaning of Ramadan", he said.

"Not only do these acts make us compassionate, but will also improve communication and understanding between our different cultures and faiths.

"We encourage individuals, families, mosques and community centres to take this opportunity to support their neighbours and learn more about each other."

Hafiz Mohammed Zubair, local imam and a member of the VIP team, also said: "This programme is a perfect way to exemplify the ideals of the month of Ramadan by sharing with others, particularly during the pandemic”.

The Sharing Ramadan initiative is also being rolled out in Keighley, where the VIP team are working in conjunction with Markazi Jamia Masjid to deliver food, pick up people's shopping and prescriptions and to provide friendly phone conversations.