A community interest company has launched a goal to provide over 300 gifts to disadvantaged Muslim children this Eid.

Secret Santa launched the project called "Secret Sheikh" on Tuesday, the first day of Ramadan, has set a goal to provide Eid gift bags to the most disadvantaged Muslim children across Blackburn with Darwen.

Managing director, Phil Boulding, and his wife Karen launched the project two years ago after being inspired by the kindness of a group of Muslim women who came help them put together the sacks for the Secret Santa appeal, despite them not celebrating the holiday themselves.

He said: "During the first and second Christmas’s that we packed a 1,000 Secret Santa sacks for the disadvantaged children of Blackburn with Darwen we had quite a few Muslim ladies turn up to help pack the sacks.

"Not for religious reasons, as they don’t celebrate Christmas, but for humanitarian reasons.

"And each year they would turn up and quietly beaver away in support of what we were doing – never asking for anything for themselves."

Touched by their help and with the concerns being raised that “Blackburn was a divided community” began to rear Phil wanted to prove this was not the case so he launched the project.

Phil added: "We wanted to do something for our Muslim friends at a time that meant something to them.

"So Secret Sheikh was born and along with One Voice Blackburn, two years ago we delivered several hundred Eid gift bags.

"It was a welcome success, and we just want to repeat it again – given the impact on poverty of Covid-19 – it is needed now, more than ever”.

The couple, who have delivered more than 28,000 gifts to children across Blackburn with Darwen at Christmas and at Eid, were visited recently by Pops Ali and Bill Hodgson, who make up two thirds of One Voice Blackburn.

The community interest company, which hopes to create an inclusive, cohesive and vibrant community in the town, has in the past donated £5,000 to Secret Santa and have made a £2,500 donation to the Eid project, which will fill over 160 bags.

A donation of £15 will fill one bag with sweets, smaller toys, a book and a main gift.

You can donate in store or on their JustGiving page.