A Birmingham mosque opened its doors to homeless people suffering in freezing temperatures and distributed hot meals to those sleeping rough.
Green Lane Mosque and Community Centre (GLMCC) launched its winter freeze project during the cold snap last month. The project is the brainchild of GLMCC’s, head of welfare services, Humayun Saleem who explained how in the first night of the project volunteers distributed 50 food packs in minutes.
The idea came from Humayun Saleem, head of welfare services at the centre, who is concerned about the increasing number of homeless people on the streets in the bitterly cold weather.
The project launched two weeks ago and as soon as the mosque opened its doors on the first night, four homeless people took advantage of the scheme.
By the third night, there were 12 homeless people who had made their way to the warmth of the mosque as rain set in and word spread.
One regular is a disabled man in a wheelchair. On his first night, he had made his way to the mosque by bus, accompanied by another homeless friend.
The friend said that they had become aware of the mosque being open after volunteers handed out leaflets to the homeless in the city centre on previous nights.
They decided to give it a try after the temperature became so cold that he couldn’t feel his feet.
Kamran Hussain, the recently appointed general manager at the mosque, said that although many organisations are doing a great job in providing free food, the homeless need to be off the streets in this weather.
He said: “Walking around the city centre at night you see all the homeless huddled in doorways. They sleep on concrete floors in freezing temperatures.
“In Birmingham there have been cases of homeless people freezing to death and we want to help avoid this.”
GLMCC are providing overnight stays in their large community hall, where they also serve food, drinks, snacks and a warm tea to those staying over.
The project is running for several weeks after which they will assess how long it will carry on.
Humayun Saleem, head of welfare services, who has been the driving force behind the project, said: “We have had local takeaways and restaurants taking part by providing free food.
“We had such a good response from our request for food from local restaurants that the volunteers have been able to go back out every evening and distribute food to the rough sleepers. On our first night, we distributed 50 food packs in minutes.
“Our service supports everyone regardless of race, creed or background. We do not discriminate. People are in need and it’s our Islamic duty to help.”
GLMCC already runs a foodbank, which has been established for years.
Staff recently supplemented this with the launch of a kitchen that distributes food to the needy in and around the Small Heath area every Saturday evening.
They also run a number of other welfare services for the community, including counselling services, a financial charity support service, a knife bank, social coffee mornings for women, and a monthly elderly social and lunch.
They also offer a subsidised Islamic funeral service.
Qais Khizar, admin support assistant at the mosque said: “We have had a call out for volunteers from our congregation and have had a good response with about 20 people coming forward.
“However, it is difficult to find people who can contribute to stay for a whole night so we are requesting more people to come forward and register their support for the overnight stay from 11pm to 7.30am.
“You do not need to be available for the whole week or even the whole night; just a few hours can help massively.
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