What was planned as a community café when the new Sikh Community Centre & Youth Club opened on St James Mill Road in Northampton is still operating as a food bank for the vulnerable, with numbers down on lockdown levels but still helping some 80 to 90 families per week.
Volunteers pack boxes for deliveries that go out three times a week to provide three breakfasts and three hot meals per person to recipients in the local community. The vegetarian food packages include fresh, dried and personal hygiene items donated to the centre by businesses, supermarkets and from the nationwide charitable food redistributors FareShare.
Weekly deliveries are made to those who have been referred to the scheme, and then emergency packages are delivered as and when needed, once the centre is made aware of someone in immediate need.
Coordinated by Erika Hovarth, the scheme also distributes hot meals to rough sleepers in Northampton town centre through a mobile delivery service every Sunday evening.
Amarjit Atwal, trustee for the Sikh Community Centre & Youth Club, explained:
“The numbers of people who need boxes from the food bank has dropped to some extent, we were helping more than 200 families at the height of the pandemic, but we are still busy.
“The aim is to provide as much as we can, we can’t provide everything people need but the aim is to make sure people are getting a few hot meals every week to supplement what they can buy for themselves.
“We don’t want donations of money, but if businesses can supply items for distribution or if people would like to volunteer, then we welcome their help. Items like cereals, bread, fruit and vegetables, tea, biscuits etc are always welcome.”
In addition to the hot food scheme in the town centre, the centre identified a need for sleeping bags for rough sleepers. All Things Business has started the ball rolling by donating 50 sleeping bags and Amarjit is happy to hear from any organisations or individuals who can provide more.
“The weather is turning cold and a warm sleeping bag is a necessity,” he said. “Unfortunately, people have sleeping bags that are stolen or are past their best, or if it rains they can’t use it because they have no way to get it dried off, and so we want to be able to provide them with a replacement where necessary.”
To offer help, email firstname.lastname@example.org or contact Pindy Kaur on 07770 088568