A big thank-you to our Peterborough heroes

This week we say a big thank you to some of Peterborough’s Heroes... They are some of the people in our community who have gone the extra mile to do jobs that are vital, support the vulnerable and help the city through the coronavirus pandemic.

Zillur Hussain from the Zi Foundation and Chavdar Zhelev from the Tavan Restaurant who have since the start of lockdown and the  story in the Peterborough Telegraph , handed out thousand of free meals to the needy with the help of sponsor Rodney Flowers (not pictured).
Zillur Hussain from the Zi Foundation and Chavdar Zhelev from the Tavan Restaurant who have since the start of lockdown and the story in the Peterborough Telegraph , handed out thousand of free meals to the needy with the help of sponsor Rodney Flowers (not pictured).

Peterborough MP Paul Bristow and the Peterborough Telegraph issued an appeal for nominations for Peterborough’s Heroes.

Mr Bristow said: “We have been overwhelmed by nominations for Peterborough Heroes – and they demonstrate how much so many have done to help our community through this incredibly difficult challenge.

“Peterborough is my home. I have ways known our city to be a special place and there are wonderful stories of good people coming together to beat this horrible virus. Our businesses and neighbourhoods have risen to this challenge.

MP for Peterborough Paul Bristow with Ishfaq Hussain and Zillur Hussain and staff from the Tavan Restaurant.

“The nominations include local children fundraising for our NHS, pharmacies going above and beyond to support vulnerable customers, takeaways providing food deliveries across the city, the creators of our hugely popular Facebook page, a postie bringing some much needed community spirit to our lockdown streets, and many, many more.

“Witnessing their goodwill and selflessness makes me proud to represent Peterborough. We are one city and we are winning the battle against this horrible virus.”

There were hundreds of nominations and the final winners were eventually chosen by PT Editor Mark Edwards and Paul Bristow.Our five winners will be invited to the House of Commons – when the situation changes – for afternoon tea.

Our first two clear winners.... Ishfaq Hussain and Zillur Hussain.

Ishfaq Hussain runs More Cars in Peterborough but during lockdown, with the business closed for much of the time, Ishfaq focused on helping others.

He helped with numerous projects, along with the Zi foundation charity and Tavan restaurant he delivered hot food to NHS staff at Peterborough City Hospital.

That led to other restuarants and organisations getting in touch. He was approached by others who knew of people in need so Ishfaq co-ordinated a number of local businesses to provide meals for the homeless people being cared for by the Garden House Project in Peterborough. Food was delivered to the homeless at their temporary accommodation in hotels.

Ishfaq said: “It all just snowballed and one thing led to many others.

“We started getting more and more requests for help.

“We were helping the rough sleepers at the Light Project. We wanted to provide them with meals for three months and at first there were only 50 people but after two weeks 130 people needed help.

“We co-ordinated everything every day and it is still ongoing and we have said we will carry on until it’s over, until people are out of hotels and housed. We’ve also donated arts and crafts materials to Club 73- a club that supports hundreds of disabled people in the city and along with that we have taken arts materials to a number of care homes to help people keep occupied.

“We carried on and brought other businesses on board to help.”

Soon Ishfaq and his team were receiving pallet loads of snack, drinks, toothpaste and other essentials to distribute.

They have offered delivery services and are also providing 20 food parcels to vulnerable families every week.

Ishfaq contacted Craig Wilkinson, manager of Boots at Queensgate, and soon 150 gift bags from Peterborough Boots were dropped off at Peterborough City Hospital for NHS staff. Ishfaq and his team regularly drop off cakes and food at the hospital to thank staff there.

Ishfaq and his team didn’t stop there. They sourced facemasks and PEE and delivered 2,000 masks to care homes in the city,and they have handed out 2000 masks to vulnerable familes.

Ishfaq and Zillur Hussain started working with Peterborough’s Coronaheroes Facebook group and supported each other on more projects.

Ishfaq added: “Locally it’s non-stop every day. Anyone who calls we try to help.”

Ishfaq said he was delighted to receive the award but added: “For me it has been more about helping Peterborough. Loads of people try to divide our communities, but for me we are united. The driving force was to show that we come out together and support other.

“I am Peterborough born and bred. As a city we do stand together and support each other.

“This recognition is for all the people who have done the right thing and made an effort to help.”

Ishfaq has worked alongside Zillur Hussain. Zillur launched his mission to help tackle food poverty across the city in March using his charity the Zi Foundation.

Zillur donated 500 meals across the city to those who were vulnerable and isolating at that time.

After getting a huge reaction to his efforts after they were featured in the Peterborough Telegraph Zillur was determined to help ‘whoever was in need’, whether they were shielding, elderly, self-isolating or just struggling to put food on the table across Peterborough.

He put an appeal out with the PT and his charity has since donated more than 15,000 meals to help residents who were facing food shortages.

Zillur said: “To be honest when coronavirus happened it coincided with my father having an accident in India. I couldn’t get to see see him so I just decided I would do everything I could to help fathers and others in this country.

“I said to Ishy (Ishfaq Hussain) and ‘let’s do something together’.

“With the help of the team at Tavan restaurant and others we started.

“When we were featured in a Peterborough Telegraph article it really grew. We received hundreds of emails and text messages.

“A lot of people were calling me and asking me to help relatives and friend.s”

Zillur runs a construction company as well as his Zi Foundation charity and the Tavan restaurant but during lockdown his staff were unable to work.

“I took all my builders and staff had a meeting,” he said. “Every single one of them was happy to help.

“Restaurant staff were cooking and my builders helped distribute the meals.”

Zillur said he had been supported by many people but particularly thanked friend Rodney Flowers who made a donation to help fund the purchase of fruit, vegetables and rice.

“It is nice to be recognised,” said Zillur. “I hope it encourages people in the future. That it shows that we can all help each other.”