Ahmadiyya Muslim Youth Association helping Hartlepool

Members of the two groups planted trees in West View Cemetery in Hartlepool
Image caption Members of the two groups planted trees in Hartlepool's West View Cemetery

A group of Muslims in Hartlepool have helped to plant 450 trees in their home town.

It is the latest volunteer project undertaken by the members of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Youth Association.

Members of the group give up their free time every weekend in an attempt to improve the society in which they live.

Sheraz Kasi, a spokesperson for the group members, who worship at a mosque in Turnbull Street, Hartlepool, said the tree planting had been done with the Wild Green Spaces in Hartlepool project team.

The shrubs were planted in West View Cemetery.

Helping homeless

Becky Stanley, from the Wild Green Spaces team, said: "The new trees are a big boost to the town's environment and will help to encourage wildlife."

Mr Kasi said: "We like to help improve the environment in which we live and our members really enjoyed planting the trees.

"We volunteer a lot and collect for charity. It's part of our religion but it's great to do things in our local area to promote good community relations."

The group members offer their labour across the UK as part of a national structure within the association.

They work with selected charities across a year by raising funds and awareness and also doing hands-on charity work including helping to feed homeless people and blood donation sessions.

Mr Kasi said: "We've been in Hartlepool for about 25 years now.

"The group originally formed in India and then migrated in Pakistan. It moved over to the UK in the 1980s.

Own group

"Our headquarters are in London and there are annual gatherings there. We organise it all and have around 35,000 people coming together."

The Ahmadiyya community takes its name from its founder Mirza Ghulam Ahmad.

It has bases in more than 175 countries and is renowned for it services to the community in the fields of education and health.

In Hartlepool, the group is split up into different age groups. There are no women in the Ahmadiyya as they have their own group.

Mr Kasi said: "In Hartlepool I have about 18 boys in the group, but we will work with other groups if a volunteer task needs more manpower.

"We are split up into age ranges. I work with the ones between 16 and 40 years old.

"We meet and do a lot of our activities in the mosque which was built in 2005. The mosque is open for school visits and things - we like to show people what it's like inside."

The group is working on the Charity Challenge 2012 - an Ahmadiyya Muslim Youth Association national charity target of £200,000.

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