Helping the Homeless of Leicester

Flashmob Iftar in Manchester, August 2010

Recently I came across a speech by the Communities Minister Andrew Stunell who encouraged faith-based organisations to share their passion and experience with others to maximise their work to help people and improve neighbourhoods. He went on to state that faith-based organisations can contribute to the Big Society by leading and initiating projects  to help those who are vulnerable. He went on to say how  “there are some great examples of faith-based providers that are thinking flexibly and reaching out beyond their own natural constituencies, whether of faith or of location. We want more organisations to follow this lead and take advantage of the emerging Big Society to make an even bigger difference in their communities.”

Mr Stunell should have made a visit today at the Town Hall in Leicester to witness the Islamic Society of Britain’s launch of their local campaign titled “Eat’n’ Meet. Simple title with a simple message, but the eating and meeting is with the homeless people of Leicester. Eat ‘n’ Meet is a twelve week campaign to feed the homeless people of Leicester and then provide each individual with essential bags of food and  Eat’n’Meet’ is a 12-week campaign to feed the homeless of Leicester and provide them with a bag of essential food and toiletry items each week through the cold winter months. This campaign came about after the flashmob Iftar for the homeless.  All the donations have come across by benefactors from local businesses and organisations who basically have provided a life-line for many homeless people.

It has been estimated that there are 64,000 thousand people in Britain who are homeless, but that figure could be more, in Leicester rough estimates say there are around 700 people who are homeless or live in shelters. but with the bleak economic climate, that figure could increase.

Even though Eat ‘n’ Meet has been the brainchild of the local Muslim community, they are in partnership with faith and non-faith organisations such as the City of Sanctuary – Leicester  and Refugee Action to provide the homeless and asylum seekers that extra warmth and care.

Human beings have no divine right to their way of living, today we could be in our warm homes, tomorrow we could lose everything,. Once Prince Charles visited the Big Issue Offices, where he met Clive Harold with whom he used to go to prep school, Harold came from a privileged background, but due to circumstances beyond his control he had lost everything.

Some may argue that the idea of the Big Society makes no real sense and is seen as a cop-out by government, but for years faith-based organisations have been providing the support though volunteer means. Eat’n’ Meet has been created to not promote faith; it is an opportunity to provide the homeless and refugee communities every week for three cold winter months their basic needs. Feeding and helping others, Eat ‘n’ Meet gives an opportunity to try to understand their difficulties and empathise with those in different social circumstances than ourselves.