UCLan supported charity receives Queen’s Award for Voluntary Services

7 June 2017

Lancaster based Abaseen Foundation awarded MBE for voluntary groups

A charity providing health and education to marginalised communities in North West Pakistan has received the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Services.

The Lancaster-based Abaseen Foundation, which the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) has supported for more than 10 years and is co-chaired by the University’s Professor of Nutritional Sciences Nicola Lowe, received the MBE for voluntary groups to recognise the excellent work of its volunteers.

Professor Lowe and the charity’s CEO Helen Bingley were invited to Buckingham Palace to share tea with the Queen and the award will be officially presented later in the summer.

Professor Lowe, who is currently leading a two-year study in Pakistan into the effective use of biofortified wheat to overcome a global zinc deficiency problem, commented: “I am delighted that the Abaseen Foundation has been awarded this prestigious honour. We have been working hard for many years to improve the lives of some of the most marginalised communities, through our education, healthcare and research programmes.  My hope is that this award will help us to do even more in the years ahead.”

Since 2002, Abaseen Foundation volunteers have worked tirelessly to grow and develop an organisation to provide education, health, research and humanitarian relief to some of the poorest people in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in North West Pakistan.  The Foundation currently educates 1,000 children, mostly girls, sponsored by people in the North West of England through the Sponsor a Child to go to School scheme. Literacy rates for girls in this area are less than three percent and the Abaseen Foundation believes that ‘If we educate a girl, we educate a mother and a whole family.’

"I am delighted that the Abaseen Foundation has been awarded this prestigious honour."

CEO Helen Bingley said: “We are deeply honoured to receive this award in recognition of our efforts over the last 20 years, I have always been deeply impressed and moved by the motivation of the voluntary efforts of all the people who support our cause, I am sure that this recognition will take their motivation to another level.”

UCLan has supported the work of the Abaseen Foundation for many years in various ways and most recently has provided an annual free of charge degree place for a graduate from the Abaseen Foundation schools in Pakistan.  The children in the schools are highly motivated but this greatly increases their efforts as this provides an opportunity to strive for something beyond their wildest dreams.  The Abaseen Foundation has twinned its schools with two schools in the UK; Waterhead Academy in Oldham and Eldon Primary School in Preston, bringing teachers and children together across the miles.

In addition to her current research project, Professor Lowe is also working with the Baghbanan Health Centre to study the diet and micronutrient intake in young women and a recent Wellcome Trust funded project investigated the role of the traditional Jirga system for engaging the community in health related research.