Prior to its launch, members of the organisation ran the Muslim Women’s Helpline for 19 years. The MWH was a national service and, to our knowledge, the first of its kind, for women and girl suffering in silence and feeling marginalised in mainstream services and under-represented in the Muslim communities.
Our callers were looking for a ‘faith sensitive’ service where they felt understood in their spiritual and cultural framework. The Helpline identified the necessity of meeting the needs of women and girls whose religious identity transcended those of race, nationality and ethnicity.
A growing need
Those active in the Muslim community founded the Helpline to disseminate and feed back lessons learnt from callers. We have consistently worked with mosques, community leaders, schools, media orgs. NHS, mental health orgs and society at large to tackle the kind of ‘taboo’ subjects of domestic violence, sexual abuse, depression that have caused such distress to our callers.
We have worked tirelessly, over 28 years, to work with Muslims and non-muslims to pursue the best possible service and support. We were able to seek out and utilise Muslim professionals (psychiatrists, psychologists, counsellors, therapists) and work closely with them and non-Muslim mental health specialists to give a more tailor made, sensitive service.
When we began, Islamic counselling was little heard of and we were one of the first organisations to have fully trained accredited Islamic counsellors and have gradually seen the rise of Islamic counsellors used in mainstream services.
An independent service
Throughout the years, we have remained a completely independent service (reflected in our small budget and running costs) which can only be done with the wonderful support of our volunteers and with regular donations, grants and standing orders.
The Helpline was founded by a group of women who saw the need to also disseminate and feedback to the community the lessons being learned from the callers about issues that mosques, community leaders and society at large had to confront.
The Muslim Women’s Helpline was highly regarded and instrumental with others in bringing to the fore issues that now others have taken on and specialised in e.g. forced marriage, sexual abuse, mental health and intergenerational conflict.
Unlike today where many organisations in the sector are highly corporatized, the Helpline always ensured that the resources it garnered — in the main from independent and grassroots donors — (this was an era when increasingly, funds were not provided to meet the needs of clients, but funders’) — were put into frontline services.
A changing landscape
As the landscape changed and bureaucratic demands threatened to engulf our totally voluntary management, it was decided to reinvent ourselves as the Muslim Community Helpline — minimal overheads, minimal bureaucracy, answerable to no one but the clients who need time, care, information, sincerity and more time. As a result, we are members of the National Coalition for Independent Action, a campaigning organisation of like-minded independent mobilisations providing a critical commentary on developments in the independent/voluntary sector.
Expertise you can count on
The expertise of the Helpline’s members have been transferred to the Muslim Community Helpline service which operates Monday to Friday 10 am to 1 pm.
Members also give talks, participate in consultations, train and contribute expertise and insights gained from their experience. However, our principle aim is to be there for any person who is suffering in silence.
To minimise cost and be beholden to no one, the Helpline operates from the homes of volunteers using a call diversion service. The Helpline is thus currently operating on less than £3,000 per year.
Service Operates Monday to Thursday, 10am to 1pm, Friday 10 am to 4 pm (core hours)
For those who do not know, the Helpline is 100% reliant on voluntary donations and the occasional philanthropic grant from supporters; support for which we are very grateful and which helps to ensure that we remain independent and focussed on the needs of the community and not primarily potential funders.
To understand the context in which we work and for news of issues affecting the Muslim community, you may look at The Muslim News newspaper.
We welcome support for our voluntary work. Contact us by email firstname.lastname@example.org
Provided on request.