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Helping the homeless: the volunteer experience

7th September, 2015

Islamic Help volunteers brought a little cheer into the lives of homeless people in Birmingham by serving up meals to hundreds of vulnerable people.

IH partnered with SIFA Fireside, another Birmingham-based charity which is dedicated to improving health and inclusion for the homeless, for the initiative.

SIFA, based in Digbeth, provides a drop-in service where it serves more than 3,000 breakfasts and lunches daily to the homeless and vulnerable people aged 18 and older.

Ten Islamic Help volunteers took part at one of the drop-in sessions by serving breakfasts and were joined by other SIFA volunteers for the lunchtime activities where pasta and curry was served to clients.

One of the IH volunteers, Serena Khan (pictured left), said the experience had highlighted how homeless people were suffering.

“Volunteering with Islamic Help to feed the homeless at SIFA Fireside was a memorable experience which showed the difficulties homeless people have to undergo every day,” she said.

“Difficulties like not having anywhere to live or to call home, worrying about where their next meal will come from, having the ability to look after themselves in harsh weather conditions such as winter, get a job or even go into education such as college.

“During this experience I got the chance to talk to volunteers outside of Islamic Help to understand why they volunteer for such a brilliant cause that enables people to eat, drink and sit down in a warm and safe environment where they can socialise and feel looked after.

“It was interesting to see that many volunteers have seen or experienced hard circumstances in their life and that's why they help others in their spare time.

“Overall it was a sad but insightful visit where we prepared and served food and drinks such as coffee and tea, and cleaned and washed the kitchen utensils.

“This experience has highlighted the poverty of being homeless and for the young people who volunteered for Islamic Help to help SIFA Fireside I know they appreciate even more the things that seem so small, like having a meal 3 times a day, when others are struggling just to get one meal.”