5th May 2020, 09:08 | therfl
Ikram Butt, the former England wing who is especially fondly remembered at Featherstone, is urging Rugby League fans to show their support for front-line workers in the Coranavirus pandemic through One Family, a charity for whom he is now working as an ambassador.
One Family, a charity with a declared commitment to Syria which runs campaigns addressing the global issues of human trafficking and refugees, has turned its focus to the UK in the current crisis, launching an Emergency Care Fund which has been supplying Frontline Care Boxes to hospital staff – mostly in London, but with plans to extend further afield including Leeds.
Butt, who was the first and remains the only British Asian to play international Rugby League after representing England against Wales in the 1995 European Championship, is relishing his involvement in the latest appeal.
“I think One Family is a great charity to be involved with,” he explained.
“Our outlook is global, and in fact I was recently out in Syria near the border with Turkey, working with the Paralympian Richard Whitehead on plans to build a prosthetics centre.
“But with the Coronavirus pandemic making such massive demands of our front-line staff, especially in hospitals, I’m also delighted to be involved in the Frontline Care Box scheme.”
Butt has been packing and distributing some of the boxes himself, after One Family launched the campaign at the instigation of Marissa Lewis, a junior doctor who joined thousands of her colleagues in signing a letter to the Sunday Times earlier in the crisis.
“The boxes contain the sort of useful stuff that can give front-line staff a lift - an eye mask, socks, ear plugs, lip balm, hand moisturiser, mouthwash, glucose tablets, and other refreshments,” he explained.
“It’s been a real privilege to help coordinate such a positive and heartfelt initiative. Dozens of boxes have already been packed and distributed across hospitals in London, and having taken part in these delivery runs, it’s been incredibly humbling and moving to see how well the boxes are being received by staff so far.”
Sharif Banna, the chair of One Family who holds the same position with the European Foundation for Muslim Philanthropy having been awarded the MBE in 2003 for his services to inter-faith dialogue, said: “We are thrilled to have Ikram’s support on this necessary initiative. We are seeing first-hand the positive effect these care boxes are having, and Ikram has really led the charge where our volunteers and distribution is concerned.”
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