Cut through all the daily media mayhem, governmental policy initiatives, and popular or unpopular surveys, the basic role of our police officers up and down the country 24/7, 365 days a year, is to protect, help and reassure the community.
From the outside, it is easy to see a faceless uniform and not make the connection that the men and women who do this job are active members of our community, touched and moved by the same highs and lows that we are all exposed to.
The difference being, whilst for us the lows are rare, and the professional work we do can provide a convenient escape, our police officers nationwide deal with these lows daily, part and parcel of their professional life.
Therefore, they could be forgiven once the shift was over and the uniform was taken off, to head back to the comfort of their homes and families, relax in front of the fire with some home cooked food, and watch Ant & Dec like everyone else in the country.
Well you would be wrong in thinking that, at least where the brothers and sisters of the Greater Manchester Muslim Police Association (GM MPA) are involved.
As a way of getting together outside work and possibly escaping those mandatory bank holiday trips to B&Q, these brothers have started to climb mountains.
Why? I hear you say. George Mallory one of the first group of people to attempt to climb Everest is famously quoted as saying when asked the same question “Because it’s there”.
For this group of brothers, Everest may have been a little ambitious for now, so they opted for something a little more sedate, the UK’s highest peak, Ben Nevis in Scotland. Which most men would agree, in comparison to a weekend of DIY is child’s play.
It’s been estimated every year over 100,000 people make their way up and down Ben Nevis. Each individual or group has a different story to tell as to his or her reasons for doing so, but few will approach it like the brothers from the GM MPA.
It is said “Failure to Plan, is Planning to Fail” surprisingly that’s not something that can be said about these guys, in true police planning style, each brother attending is given a job with a detailed set of instructions as to what is expected of that role during the trip.
Mini buses are tried and tested, accommodation is researched and booked based on the latest reviews, and to top it all off, a healthy supply of quality local food from up market caterers is bought and taken with them to feed their weary bodies after their climb. You can take the men out of Wilmslow Road, but you cannot take Wilmslow road out of the men!
With the planning complete, and the shops in and around Manchester severely depleted from all types of thermal clothing, gortex or woolly hats, the group made their way to Scotland.
The plan was to pray Jummah at the Glasgow Central Mosque, meet up with some Scottish Police officers who were also participating, then head to the accommodation at the foot of Ben Nevis.
Stage One: mission accomplished on time, and on schedule.
The group arrived at the accommodation, fluffed up the luxury duck down pillows and headed to the kitchen to indulge in a spot of carb loading like finely tuned athletes. Granted, finely tuned athletes may not load up on samosa and three helpings of biryani the night before the big event, but hey, it is all about balance.
Stage Two: started well, the team split into slow and fast groups and off they set to the top of the Ben.
Half way up the personnel in those groups had changed around slightly as the scale of the challenge hit home, and last night’s feast started to burn away; time for a samosa break.
For some taking part, it was their first time they had done such a thing, for others they were old hands, having been the previous year and on previous outings.
However, there was a common, binding goal no matter what their level of expertise; the shared experience and camaraderie of taking part in challenges like this, escaping the hustle and bustle of city life and experiencing the beauty Allah (SWT) creations whilst using the solitude and time away to increase their own connection with their faith, whilst recharging their emaan.
If that wasn’t enough reason, then these brothers added further nobility to this challenge; raising money for a number of worthy charities within the Manchester area. Even a couple who they met whilst climbing the mountain decided to donate, further proof that Bash could sell sand to the Arabs if he needs be.
After a great day, and one we will truly remember we made our way back to the accommodation for a well-deserved rest.
Stage Two: completed.
Stage Three of our plan went into action early on Sunday morning we left Ben Nevis with good memories and plans for next year starting to be hatched. We stopped off in Glasgow to drop our colleagues off, and sample the delights of a local fish and chip shop that was opened especially for us (It’s not what you know, it’s who you know!). After sticking to the fish and chips and passing on the fried mars bars, we headed back to Manchester.
The goal of the trip and the fundraising activities was to raise money to provide a wheel chair for a local charity, that total was reached and exceeded and by the Qadr of Allah the team were introduced to Children of Jannah and invited along to their Manchester launch event.
We were immediately impressed with the work the charity does and for their plans for the future and it was decided that we should donate the sum of £1000 from the funds raised, which is already being put to good use.
Plans are already a foot for our next joint fund raising event, which we hope to support the team at Children of Jannah with, and since our first meeting we have been actively involved in promoting their work across Manchester and throughout the UK with other police associations.
The team at Children of Jannah would like to thank the Greater Manchester Muslim Police Association for their continued support, and look forward to working closely together in the future.