This is a special moment. Mr Fazal Hussain was quite ill when he was nominated for an award, and as many of you will be aware, he subsequently died. Our thoughts are with his wife, his daughters and sons and the many many people whose lives he touched particularly in Fir Vale, but throughout this city. The Panel would like to make an honour to the memory of Fazal Hussain.
He was a young 17 year old man when he arrived in London, and then Sheffield fresh from Pakistan, from Azad Kashmir. Work was plentiful in the steel mills and engineering shops at the time and he, like many Pakistanis, worked and grafted long and hard. And for a man who was bi-lingual, he inevitably found himself taking on and helping out other migrant workers – letter writing and reading, dealing with personal issues. When he was made redundant in 1984 from Forgemasters as a welder, he threw himself into the struggle to improve the lot for the families throughout the neighbourhood of Fir Vale.
He was the chair of the management committee for the Ghauzia mosque and helped buy, repair and establish the mosque as a central institution for the Pakistani community. But he also was firmly committed to improving the lives of those who through no fault of their own, were liable to be treated disrespectfully. He set up the Pakistan Advice Centre at Owler Lane in 1990. Meetings in the front room of his house on Firvale Rd between “three old Pakistani men and three young community workers” resulted in a pilot project on a small one-off grant; “in the first 6 months, none of the professionals believed the amount of work we had developed at the centre” remembered a collaborator. And within a year, a small amount of regular grant aid was made available by the Council to the Centre. Fundraising, training volunteers, developing expertise, being a voice for the community, supporting those most in need – all became a feature of the Advice Centre. And Fazal Hussain was there when it needed demonstrations and campaigns to maintain the Centre when it had been threatened with closure in the late 1990s.
One close colleague says:
Uncle Fazal Hussain was a dedicated community worker who worked hard to achieve justice and fairness for disadvantaged communities. He always shunned the limelight and would always put the needs of others and the community first – and that was what he would always stress to the staff at the Centre. He was a man that gave all he had to the community he so cared for and took nothing back. Never in all the years that I have known him – and even in the past few years of illness – did he ever show any complacency or tiredness of doing work for this community. He would always have time or an ear to listen to others’ problems. He has left a massive void in this community and will be massively missed by the whole community, both young and old.
As Steve Jones said after his death:
“He was a friend of mine and I feel honoured to have known him and to been befriended by him in return. He will leave a massive hole in the local community. His strong beliefs, faith and commitment are irreplaceable and we will all miss him hugely. Such utter dedication to local people and their wellbeing is something we could do with more of and Mr. Hussain was one of the best…”