Luton duo honoured with British Citizen awards

The awards recognise extraordinary people

By Lynn Hughes
Tuesday, 5th July 2022, 12:54 pm

Two Luton people have been honoured with British Citizen awards.

The duo are among only 25 people due to be recognised in a ceremony at the Palace of Westminster on Thursday.

Ali Aklakul Islam will receive his award and the coveted Medal of Honour, for services to education.

L: Hasina Rahman and R: Ali Aklakul

He volunteers as an educator, mentor and fundraiser and alongside his various divergent endeavours, during lockdown he arranged ‘Online Booster Lessons’ for those children facing exam conditions whilst undertaking online learning. Additionally, he became a central figure of the community by ensuring all elderly and isolated individuals had company. But his community spirit extends much further than covid-related activities.

For over ten years Ali has dedicated himself to improving his community in any way he can, serving as a public servant as well as volunteering in the education sector with teenagers and young adults. He has been active and influential working with children and young people from all backgrounds and ages. His work has helped many children stay away from a life of crime as many of the children are disengaged from the education sector. Ali also actively helps with summer school trips and organising various sports tournaments and after-school classes for additional support for their education.

During the pandemic, Ali has been instrumental in distributing food for the local mosque and supporting people who were lonely and isolated. During this difficult time of uncertainty, he continued with his support and volunteering of children and young people as well as working full time as a key worker as a delivery driver.

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Hasina Rahman will be honoured with The British Citizen Award for Services to the Community at the Palace of Westminster and will receive the coveted Medal of Honour.

Six years ago, she created a female-only martial arts clubs in Luton. This has helped women learn self-defence, a combat sport, improve their lifestyle and have a feeling of empowerment. Hasina teaches MMA, Muay Thai and self-defence to women of all ages, ethnicities and backgrounds. Wanting to help others has always been Hasina’s passion and she runs the club single-handedly.

On her first-ever session, just three women attended, not deterred by this, Hasina made a few changes, added workshops in clubs and parks and now over 40 women enrol for each class, workshop or session. Hasina has created a community of women from all faiths, who come together to learn martial arts and self-defence. This is something Muslim women in particular, may not have had the opportunities to learn. By creating an entirely female environment, the girls have learned self-defence, lifesaving skills and improved their confidence. As well as the physical wellness, this has also helped many of the members with depression and self-belief and the confidence to go out by themselves.

Leaving school at 16 with a passion for martial arts, Hasina worked hard to become a personal trainer and gain black belts in various types of martial arts. Hasina has spoken out about her own traumatic bullying experiences she suffered at school. In 2020 she wrote her first book which is a guide for anti-bullying for children called ‘Heroes’.

The British Citizen Award is widely viewed as the nation’s way of recognising extraordinary, everyday people for exceptional endeavour and are truly representative of today’s multicultural Britain.