Muslim Aid and the As-Suffa Institute have partnered to form a charitable programme to shelter the homeless, after seeing how mosques could combine forces to help tackle the severe homelessness in Birmingham. According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS) Birmingham had the highest number of deaths in 2018, recorded by any local authority in the country; 23 homeless people died, an increase of 18 people from the previous year.
The case of 31-year-old, Kane Walker who died in January 2019 near Birmingham’s Bullring, tragically gave rise to highlighting the needs of approximately 420 people sleeping rough across the West Midlands.
This year, the homeless will be given a place to stay overnight in a volunteer led shelter at As-Suffa Homeless Support Unit, Lionel Street, B3 1AQ in Birmingham. The remarkable scheme will aim to reach out to all those that are sleeping rough and provide them with essential amenities such as food, clothing and shelter. It will be led by a large set of volunteers from mosques across Birmingham.
As-Suffa and Green Lane Masjid and Community Centre (GLMCC) have been at the forefront in tackling homelessness in Birmingham for a number of years. As-Suffa has hosted a 4 day soup kitchen since 2012 and more recently, a night shelter during the cold weather since 2016. GLMCC opened its doors to the homeless in 2019, sheltering the homeless as temperatures dropped below zero. Recognising the increase in such critical conditions, mosques this year have stepped up to the urgent action required.
Muslim Aid will be raising funds to purchase life-saving sleep-pod shelters which will be distributed to those unable to attend the shelter. As some volunteers assist in the city centre based shelter, others will be supporting and sign posting those in need throughout Birmingham City Centre.
Last winter, GLMCC saw the Birmingham community truly came together, with individuals volunteering time, restaurants providing daily meals and people digging deep to donate essential food, clothing and blankets.
Altaf Kazi, Muslim Aid’s Head of UK Programmes, commented “This year, the collaborating mosques hope to see a greater impact that will assist more of the homeless not just for one night or one meal, but throughout the expected freezing temperatures, over the next couple of months.
“God reminds us repeatedly to feed and look after the poor and needy. As Muslims we must fulfil our obligations. The Prophet Muhammad (peace & blessings of God be upon him) said:
“He is not a believer whose stomach is full while the neighbour to his side goes hungry.”
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