Celebrate Unity, Diversity, and Impact: Penny Appeal's First Big Iftar!
Our CEO, Ridwana, takes you on an inspiring journey behind the scenes at Penny Appeal's first-ever Big Iftar - an event that showcased the power of unity, diversity, and impact. Discover how we're working together to create lasting change in our local and global communities, and how you can join us in this mission. Be inspired to dream big with us as we continue to transform lives one community at a time. Read the full article below and join our movement for positive change!
By Ridwana Wallace-Laher
Yesterday, it was an absolute honour to host Penny Appeal's first-ever Big Iftar at our Penny Appeal Campus. The atmosphere was buzzing with excitement, as we welcomed esteemed leaders from across the charity sector, Members of Parliament, ardent supporters from up and down the country, and of course, our dedicated staff and board. Hailing from diverse backgrounds and communities, this gathering presented a fantastic opportunity for us to celebrate our accomplishments, recommit to our vision for the future, and reflect on the significance of unity, diversity, and impact.
The Power of Unity and the Spirit of Ramadan
As I stood before our esteemed guests, I was deeply moved by the incredible journey that has led me to become the CEO of Penny Appeal. I spoke about the power of unity and the spirit of Ramadan, and how our gathering bore testament to the importance of community. Not just any community, but the immediate community around you - we grow where we’re planted, a wise person once told me. This event truly marked the beginning of a new chapter for Penny Appeal, one that will see us strive to make an even greater impact on the lives of the most vulnerable, both locally and globally.
Celebrating Our Accomplishments: Reflecting on the Journey
I took a moment to celebrate our accomplishments and reflect on the journey that has brought us to where we are today. With immense gratitude, I thanked our staff, donors, partners, and supporters who have been the pillars of our success over the years. Their combined efforts have provided access to clean water, education, healthcare, and emergency relief to millions of people worldwide.
"If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together."
We've come so far, I told the audience, and we still have much further to go.
Embracing Diversity and Inclusion: Leading the Way
Being the first Muslim woman CEO of a major Muslim charity is both a challenge and responsibility, but it’s also an immense opportunity. It’s been an honour to lead an organisation that truly values and embraces diversity and inclusion. An event like Wakey’s Big Iftar serves as a reminder of the importance of breaking down barriers and engaging with those across faith and cultural lines. It's only when we are confident in ourselves and sure of who we are that we can optimistically and assuredly navigate the borders of our identity, and this ultimately affirms who we are. This mindset, of embracing one another, is what builds and binds us, and helps us create a stronger, more vibrant organisation that represents the diverse communities we serve.
Charting the Path Ahead: A Bold Vision for Penny Appeal
As I spoke to our guests about the future of Penny Appeal, I highlighted three key priorities that will guide our efforts in the coming months: investing in our people, enhancing transparency and trust, and expanding our impact. My leadership in the first few months has me focusing on these areas. My hope is through embracing innovation and strategic partnerships, we will continue to amplify our impact and reach even more vulnerable communities worldwide.
Strengthening Our Communities: Collaboration and Empowerment
One of the most exciting aspects of the evening was the opportunity to share our plans for strengthening our local community through collaboration and empowerment. I don’t want to reveal too much just yet, but we have some absolutely incredible things in the pipes.
Our partnerships with local organisations and community groups have been crucial in enabling us to address the most pressing needs of our communities here in Wakefield and around the world. From providing haircuts for Wakey's homeless to supporting refugees and asylum seekers fleeing persecution, we are dedicated to creating a more just, compassionate world, one community and one vulnerable individual at a time.
Leaving a Lasting Legacy: Sustainable Solutions for a Brighter Future
Looking to the future, I spoke about leaving a lasting legacy for generations to come. At Penny Appeal, we are dedicated not only to addressing the immediate needs of vulnerable communities but also to creating long-term, sustainable solutions that empower individuals and transform societies. By offering not just handouts, but rather a hand up, we can break the cycle of poverty and pave the way for a brighter future.
A United Force for Good: Join Us on Our Journey
As we wrapped up the evening, I could genuinely feel the deep sense of unity and potential that connects us with some of our closest supporters.
I concluded with a beautiful verse from the Qur'an, one that inspires so much of what we do at Penny Appeal:
"And whoever saves one life, it is as if they have saved all of humankind" (5:32).
Now, more than ever, I invite you to join us on this remarkable journey. This month is the perfect opportunity for us to come together, dream together, and be a united force for good. Our doors are always open, and we welcome you with open arms to collaborate, innovate, and create lasting, meaningful change in the world. This movement does not belong to us and we cannot do this alone. Your support, your passion, and your commitment will propel us all forward into a brighter future and in the service of those most in need.
Together, we can make ordinary extraordinary. Small change, BIG difference, one community, one heart, one soul at a time. Who’s in?
FRIDAY 14 APR 2023