If two decades working in the restaurant industry has taught Ibby Ali one thing, it is the importance of helping others.
His restaurant, Usha, has gone from strength to strength since opening in 2002 and he would be the first to cite family, friends, staff and the community as playing pivotal roles in that success.
It has allowed the father-of-five to give back plenty back, supporting numerous charity organisations over the years; yet while walking around his premises a few weeks ago he began wondering if there was more he could do.
“I had seen something on the news involving Rohingya refugees and how they are being forced to flee Myanmar,” said Ibby. “The things that are happening to these people, it’s inhumane. They are being chased out of the county, houses are being burned to the ground, people are being killed.
“Children, aged five, six, seven, are being forced to cross borders without their family. Many are having to live in makeshift camps in Bangladesh.
“People say ‘Muslim this or Muslim that’ but this is not a Muslim problem, these are people like you and me. They are human beings and they are having their human rights violated.
“It’s hard to help because it’s difficult to get aid there but we have to try and do our bit. I have young children and when you see the images or the footage on the news it really hits you hard. I had to do something.”
Burnley Generous Hands is that something – a community group comprising 11 like-minded individuals whose sole aim is to help those most in need.
A charity evening, held in conjunction with Muslin Charity, is taking place at Usha on Thursday, October 17th. It will feature entertainment along with a selection of guest speakers and all money raised on the night will go towards the Rohingya refugee plight.
“I was looking around the restaurant the other day,” said Ibby. “I love what I do and what we have achieved, but there has to me more.
“I am blessed to have Usha and I want to use it to help. I feel like I can do a lot more. I am good at making curries, that it what I do and so I have to utilise that in the best way I can.
“When I saw on the news what was happening, I was going to donate £100. Then I thought, I have a restaurant here, a medium that could help me turn that £100 into £500.
“And that is where the idea for Burnley Generous Hands came from. “Every little helps. It might not be thousands of pounds we raise, it may just be £500. The important thing is that we are doing something.”
Although this particular charity night is centred around the Rohingya plight, Burnley Generous Hands is a group not tied to any particular cause or faith. It is a group focused on helping people in need, wherever in the world they may be.
“Burnley Generous Hands is not just about helping those abroad. It’s not just about Muslims. It is for those who need it most,” said Ibby.
“Usha is not a church or a mosque. Sometimes people from one faith can perhaps feel uncomfortable attending an event at another place of worship. There are no religious barriers here. I want anybody from any faith to be able to come here and feel comfortable together. And hopefully then we can begin to make a difference.
For more information on the charity night or on Burnley Generous Hands, Ibby can be contacted on 07815201975.