As we are saying goodbye to the January blues and greeting longer days, one thing remains in the UK. A sweeping, bitter cold that we all feel under all those layers of scarves, jackets and fluffy pyjamas.
However, not all have the luxury of central heating and access to all those warm layers. Homelessness is a problem that persists and the effects of which grow worse during the winter. It’s easy to feel helpless and guilty when passing by people without a home in our day to day lives. These feelings have been transformed into positive and productive action to help tackle homelessness in the UK. Looking for ways to help? Get inspired by the work of these Muslims:
- Muslims and Christians working together to help the homeless over Christmas:
Christmas can be an incredibly lonely time for some homeless people missing family and friends. So in December Muslim NGOs worked hand in hand with churches in London to hand out hot meals and sleeping kits to the homeless.
Meanwhile in Leicester, Christians, Jews, Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs worked together to open a night shelter in the city in one of the first enterprises of its kind.
“It’s really important that all these different faiths work together. It builds community; people getting to know each other, sharing values and sharing morals.
“Working together, you find out more of what you have in common with one another than what your differences are.” said Salma Ravat, a charity manager.
- Muslims donate 10 tonnes of food in a charity drive for the homeless:
Hundreds of Muslims attending Friday prayers in East London Mosque in Whitechapel brought food donations along with them to help contribute to a charity drive organised by homeless charity Crisis.
“It was heart-warming to see so many people bringing food to the Mosque and a good sign of our common humanity. We need to build on this and make sure that we support those less fortunate all year round.” said Dilowar Khan, the Executive Director of East London Mosque
Shaykh Abdul Qayum, Chief Imam of the East London Mosque, added: “Muslims are inspired by their faith towards helping others in need. It is a religious duty for Muslims to try to help others, irrespective of a person’s faith or background. This compassion is truly reflective of what Islam stands for.”
- Hanan Chehata runs a soup kitchen in Holborn for the homeless:
The Children of Adam is run by a group of volunteers, many of whom are Muslim women. The charity invites volunteers to come together every Sunday at 6pm at Lincoln’s Inn Field in Holborn to hand out food and other items to the 150+ homeless people that visit every week.
Hanan Chehata got the idea to run this soup kitchen following an “Iftar flashmob that took place in 2011. “The idea behind them is that Muslims who are breaking their fast during the holy month of Ramadan should do so by sharing their evening meal with others who are less fortunate. In London in 2011 one of the largest Iftar Flashmobs took place at Lincoln’s Inn Field in Holborn (an area of London with a long history of soup kitchens) where fasting Muslims brought food and drinks with them and then shared their meals with the 100 or so homeless people who had also gathered there.”
After this flashmob, Hanan continued to run this initiative throughout the year. For Hanan, one of the most important and rewarding aspects of the soup kitchen is sitting down and sharing experiences with the visitors to the soup kitchen.
“Almost as important as the food itself is the simple act of communication with the homeless. So many of them have said that, while the food and drink is really important to them (many survive from day to day predominantly on what the various soup kitchens provide), the other element they like is just the interaction with the volunteers. Too often they are just ignored sitting on park benches or street corners, and for our group to meet them once a week and ask how things are going since we saw them last seems to be a vital element of what we do to.”
Children of Adam have a 100% donation policy, find more about their work here: http://childrenofadam.org.uk/
Incredible initiatives right? What inspiring efforts have you seen from others trying to inspire positive social action?
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