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Muslim and Christian groups working together to help homeless at Christmas

Muslims are handing out sleeping kits in London, Sikhs and Hindus are housing homeless in Leicester, and Jews are feeding them in St Albans

Peter Walker
Thursday 22 December 2016 20:18 GMT
There are an estimated 255,000 people without a permanent home in England
There are an estimated 255,000 people without a permanent home in England (Dan Kitwood/Getty)

A multitude of different faith groups are teaming up across the UK to help the homeless in the run up to Christmas.

Muslim NGOs are working hand-in-hand with churches in London to distribute food and sleeping kits.

Anglicans, Catholics, Methodists, Quakers, Jews, Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs meanwhile opened up a night shelter in Leicester last week, in what is believed to be the first enterprise of its kind.

Muslims and Christians dished out hot turkey dinners and sleeping kits to around 90 homeless people at a west London church on Monday.

The One Roof night shelter in Leicester houses 10 rough sleepers and its location switches between seven venues One Roof Leicester (One Roof Leicester)

“It was a glimpse into how the world should be,” said Shepherds Bush’s Church of St Stephen and St Thomas vicar Dr Bob Mayo, speaking to The Independent.

“Homelessness is a desperate need in society and there is a desperate need for different faith groups to work together because secularism has pushed us apart.”

Muslim Aid, NGO the Al-Khair Foundation and non-faith based charity Streetlytes also served up biryanis and kits containing sleeping bags, multipurpose utensils and emergency phone numbers.

The One Roof night shelter, pictured at its launch on 12 December, is believed to be the first of its kind One Roof Leicester (One Roof Leicester)

“You always get a better sleeping bag from the Muslims,” joked Dr Mayo, who shared his birthday cake with his homeless friends on 5 December.

“There is so much negative publicity surrounding Islam going on at the moment so we really encourage them to come in and maximise what they’ve got.”

Earlier this month, Muslim Aid and East London Mosque in Whitechapel handed 10 tonnes of food to homeless charity Crisis for its Christmas initiative.

An estimated 90 per cent will go to non-Muslims.

Muslim-owned kebab shops in Birmingham and in south-east London will feed the homeless free of charge on Christmas Day.

In Leicester, charity One Roof opened a shelter on 12 December, for 10 homeless men, which switches between seven different faith-based locations.

Housing Justice UK told One Roof that never before had so many different faiths collaborated on a homelessness project.

“When you think about it, I find it really mind boggling,” the charity’s manager Salma Ravat told The Independent.

“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.”

One Roof, which will give its homeless donated presents on Christmas Day, estimates there are around 40 rough sleepers in Leicester, although the last city council count totalled 16.

Leonardo Di Caprio delights fans on visit to Edinburgh eatery which helps the homeless

There are 255,000 people without a permanent home, according to charity Shelter, and an estimated 124,000 homeless children will spend Christmas in temporary accommodation.

“It’s fantastic what we’ve achieved,” said Ms Ravat, a 44-year-old Muslim.

Also in November, Muslims and Christian volunteers gave an evening meal for the homeless as part of a Jewish Mitzvah Day initiative in St Albans, Hertfordshire.

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