A former LSESU sabbatical officer has received a prestigious Points of Light Award from the Prime Minister for his outstanding volunteering work.
Bilal Bin Saqib, who graduated in Social Innovation and Entrepreneurship at LSE, has been recognised for co-founding two projects, One Million Meals and Tayaba, to support communities in the UK and Pakistan.
The One Million Meals initiative was set up last year in response to COVID-19 and provides key workers with free meals through raising funds and working with food platforms, food chains and restaurants. The campaign has seen over 100,000 meals sent to key workers and those in need during the pandemic.
Volunteers at One Million Meals identify demand from essential workplaces and then arrange deliveries from participating restaurants, with each meal costing less than £5 to provide. The initiative has helped isolated community hospitals like Savernake Hospital in Wiltshire, where staff were unable to access meals after the hospital canteen and local pub closed down.
On setting up the project, Bilal Bin Saqib said: “It was an emergency response in honour of all the front-line workers who helped the nation battle the pandemic. During lockdown, I noticed that physical distancing seems to have strengthened the need for social connection – we wanted to bring people and communities together and organise in new ways to show appreciation for health and essential workers.”
The project has seen support from celebrities such as former footballer David Beckham and boxer Amir Khan, as well as the LSE Generate team.
On receiving the award, Bilal said: “I am extremely humbled to receive this recognition from the honourable Prime Minister himself. Going forward, I plan to follow the simple mantra of leaving the world in a better place than I inherited it. It makes me proud to receive emails and messages from nurses, cleaners, doctors and other frontline workers on how much it means to have a nutritious meal delivered when everything else was shut down.”
The second project Bilal was recognised for in his Points of Light Award was Tayaba – a charity which aims to improve access to clean water for communities in Pakistan. Set up in 2016, the project uses “H2O wheels” – specially designed water-carrying devices which can be rolled on the ground and hygienically store more than 40 litres of water.
Bilal was also recognised in the Forbes 30 under 30 list 2020 for his work with Tayaba.
In a letter to Bilal and his co-founders, thanking them for their efforts, the Prime Minister wrote: “I was lost in admiration to hear of the success of your charity, Tayaba, and your mission to improve access to clean water for people in Pakistan…Thank you also for all you have done over the last year to look after those in need from nurses to taxi drivers and the homeless. You have delivered an astonishing hundreds of thousands of meals and are well on your way to smashing your target of One Million Meals.”