A HUGE interfaith initiative is under way to help the elderly and vulnerable in Keighley who are self-isolating during the coronavirus pandemic.

The town’s Muslim association, together with faith leaders from across the district, have signed-up to a volunteering programme.

Behind the venture is Strengthening Faith Institutions, a Government-backed charity, in partnership with Age UK.

The Volunteering Interfaith Programme (VIP) will work with Age UK to offer wellbeing support, friendly phone chats, a food collection and delivery service and other help to people in need during the crisis.

It also strives to improve relations between different faiths by working with people from across communities.

Among those involved is Keighley Jamia Masjid leader and trustee, Ali Akbar.

He has been helping an elderly couple in Emily Street, who have been self-isolating, by providing essentials including milk, bread and eggs. They had virtually no food left in their house and needed urgent supplies.

Javed Bashir, a VIP facilitator, said: “Every day we are getting bad news about the numbers of people affected by coronavirus.

“This programme highlights the goodness of human nature, as different faith communities come together to help Age UK to support the most vulnerable in the district – the elderly. That’s what this programme is really about.”

Mark Rounding, chief executive of Age UK Bradford District, said the charity was delighted to be part of the “vital” initiative.

He added: “We are working every day with isolated, lonely older people who are frightened, worried and anxious about their families, their health needs and day-to-day basics such as food and essential supplies.

“Age UK Bradford District is focussing on providing information, advice, wellbeing support and friendly phone chats as well as delivering essential food and wellbeing packs. This new partnership will enable us all to reach out to even more older people, who are some of the most vulnerable and isolated members of our communities.”

Mr Akbar said Keighley Muslim Association was “honoured” to be playing a part in the scheme.

“We welcome the Volunteering Interfaith Programme – it is a great initiative to help people across Keighley and the Bradford district,” he added.

“The association wishes to help wherever possible in playing a role during this time of crisis. The health of our neighbours is very important for us.”