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How the Sikh community is quietly feeding the city’s homeless

Posted on - 27th August, 2017 - 5:35pm | Author - | Posted in - Charities, City Centre, Events, News, Preston City Centre
A woman receives her helping of food from the Sikh volunteers
A woman receives her helping of food from the Sikh volunteers

Bank Holiday weekends are a time of plenty for most of us.

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The sound of chinking glasses, laughter and the bass beats of a Preston club celebrating there’s no work on Monday for many ring down Church Street.

Making my way to the Fish Market in Preston city centre I find a different version of plenty being dished up.

Preston’s Sikh community has been quietly feeding the rough sleepers and homeless of their city.

The last Sunday of every month sees dozens of people gather for a hot meal – come rain or shine.

Gurumukh Singh, one of the team behind the pop up kitchen, says the word has got round.

He said: “We started back in February and there were a handful of people here, but now people know to come and they will be fed.

“There’s three temples in the city and we take it in turn to prepare the food.

“Our guru taught us that we must help those who don’t have food. It’s a tradition that dates back at least 500 years. This is the modern day version of it.”

Today’s menu includes chickpeas and curried potatoes, chapatis, rice pudding, lentils.

There’s also bottles of water, juice, chocolate and crisps for those who make their way up Orchard Street and Birley Street for the event.

Read more: How begging banning orders in the city centre are working

One homeless man, who asked to only be named as John, said: “I get two hot meals a week, and this is the icing on the cake.

“We know the Sikhs will be here and they give us such a warm welcome.”

Receiving a meal
Receiving a meal
This is what the homeless are given to eat - freshly made vegetable curries
This is what the homeless are given to eat – freshly made vegetable curries

Ethnicity and age knows no barriers when it comes to homelessness. There’s black, white, Asian, men, women, old and young here having a meal.

Singh said: “It gets the people together. They know we will always be here and so they trust and learn where the meal will be.

“Always the same time, always the same place.

“I hope it shows them some friendship and also encourages them to talk and seek help too.”

The Fish Market canopy is used for the event, with plenty of space to go and eat
The Fish Market canopy is used for the event, with plenty of space to go and eat

The Sikh kitchen uses the Fish Market canopy, but it may have to change location.

Preston City Council is redeveloping the city’s markets, and whether a soup kitchen for the homeless fits with the trendy, upmarket vision of the glass walled market and the shipping container box market, remains to be seen.

Singh said: “We’re definitely here until December, after that we don’t know. I hope we can continue here but if not we’ll look at other options.”

Read more: Shipping container market planned for Preston

It takes around 15 volunteers each month to put on the homeless kitchen, with food freshly prepared on the day and brought to the city centre.

The Sikh kitchen can be found the last Sunday of every month at 4pm under the Fish Market canopy. You can follow the Sikh Society on Facebook.

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