Across the nation there are thousands of homeless people who are struggling to survive through the cold winter period. With nowhere warm to sleep and a lack of warm clothing, these people are becoming very vulnerable. It breaks my heart to hear that just a couple of weeks ago a young man died on the streets of Birmingham, having frozen to death one night. Imagine if that was your son, father or brother. No matter who they are or why they ended up on the streets, no one deserves to die like that.
With the support of local charities, donations from the community and the dedication of volunteers, changes can be made. Last week, I got to see three local charities working together to take action; Midland Langar Seva Society, Salvation Army and the Winter Night Shelter which is run by churches around Coventry. Three organisations who are run by people of different faiths, working together to help those in need, regardless of race, gender and religion – that is what community is all about.
I teamed up Midland Langar Seva Society (MLSS) to go out on a Feed last Sunday. The volunteers based in Nuneaton, had kindly prepared the food for the evening, and so they brought it over to Coventry GNP Gurdwara, which is where the local branch of MLSS is based. There were six volunteers for the evening and we began the Feed by preparing 25 trays of chips and pasta, which would be sent over to a place of temporary accommodation for the homeless. We then took some tubs of chips, pasta, rice and curry down to Harnall Lifehouse (a shelter run by the Salvation Army.)
We arrived to cheers from the residence who had been expecting our arrival. The men and women formed an orderly queue as we set up a serving line on a little table in the foyer. They politely moved down the line, one by one, as we served them some food. It was wonderful to receive lots of smiles and thanks. I absolutely loved it. Once everyone had been offered seconds, we cleared up the table, washed the empty tubs and just like that, everyone had been fed. It was quick, easy and simple.
We hopped back into the MLSS’s van (which had been generously donated to the charity) and we headed off to St Anne’s Church, who were hosting the Winter Night Shelter for the night. Each night different churches across Coventry take it in turns to offer a warm safe place for people to stay for the night. There were 20 available beds, and when we arrived 14 of those had already been filled.
The plates were piled high and everyone got plenty of food. We offered out survival packs to each person, containing wipes, toothpaste, a toothbrush, hat, gloves, biscuits and some crisps. These packs were gratefully received.
Before we headed back to the Gurdwara, we decided to take a trip into the city centre to see if we could see anyone out on the streets. As we drove the van around, we spotted about eight homeless people, and we were able to offer a few bits from the van, like water, crisps, hats and gloves. One person explained that they were in desperate need of a scarf, but sadly we didn’t have one. We asked each person to come back here at the same time next week, so that we could go back and offer them some more food and drink. We also informed each person about the Winter Night shelter and advised them to go and register for a place so that they’d have somewhere safe and warm to sleep.
The whole experience was completely eye opening. I had walked into this completely blindly, not knowing what to expect. I was feeling rather apprehensive about going out and feeding the homeless. I suppose I was worried about how they’d behave and whether they would act threateningly. Instead we were met with appreciation and so many people said, ‘thank you,’ and ‘god bless.’ It was the most sweetest thing. All I could think was, ‘I hope god blesses all of you and helps you get through things.’ No one deserve to be homeless and hungry. We should all make an effort to support those around us, even if its just by donating. It’s understandable that not everyone has the time to volunteer or is able to come out on Feeds, but if everyone could just donate some food, or some blankets, then that would make a huge difference.
Last week I donated to MLSS as part of Coop’s #ReverseAdvent campaign, which you can read about in my previous post.
— Amanda Thurlow (@AmandaThurlow) December 11, 2016
Midland Langar Seva Society have a list of things that they’d like you to donate. Take a look at the things that they need:
- Cereal Bars
- Soft Drinks
- UHT milk
- Vegetable Oil
- Chapati flour
- Plastic Forks and Spoons
- Plastic Trays and Cups
During this winter period, the homeless are particularly in need of warm clothing, such as:
- Sleeping bags
- General Clothing.
These items don’t have to be brand new but they should be in a clean and good condition.
I contacted a wonderful clothing company called Precis and they kindly sent a scarf to be donated to someone in need! I’ll be giving this to MLSS this evening.
At the end of last week I spotted a giveaway to win this beautiful scarf from @precisfashion. I dropped them a message and asked if they'd like to donate a scarf too and they said yes! I couldn't believe it! Today the scarf arrived and on Sunday I'll take it to @midlandlangarsevasociety. The scarf will be given to someone homeless to help them keep warm this winter. I am amazed and so thankful to Precis for their incredible generosity ??? #thankyou #charity #homeless #warmth #fashion #aw16 #scarf #Coventry #donate #thegirlgang #ukbloggers
Midland Langar Seva Society have 15 collection points across the UK, so if you would like to donate to them, then you can contact the charity on Facebook or Twitter to find the nearest collection point to you. Whilst MLSS don’t accept monetary donations to buy food for the homeless, they have recently set up a fundraising page which will help pay for the upkeep of the Van and fund others like it, which as you can see, is a vital part of this charity. Please donate whatever you can and perhaps consider taking a few hours out of your week to support this incredible charity.