(AhlulBayt News Agency) - A new weekly lunch club for the homeless and needy of Reading Town in England has been set up by a Muslim charity to help these people.
The Sadaka, which means charity in Arabic, provides free lunches and donations of clothing, toiletries, and sleeping bags to people living rough or in need every Wednesday between 11 am and 2 pm at the Fairview Community Centre.
The charity is working with established homeless support group Piaroo’s Wish, run by Satty Mann, to serve lunches at the center in Great Knollys Street.
Sadaka was set up by a group including Navid Ahmed, a businessman and former pupil of the Forest School in Winnersh. He was inspired by the Oxford Homeless Project which is run by Muslims to help people of all faiths and cultures.
Ahmed, aged 37, of Earley, distributed food, and clothing to Reading’s homeless by pushing a trolley full of donations through the town center before the launch of the lunch club last month.
Each week they have fed between 30 and 40 people who are also given a boxed meal to take away.
In his comment, Ahmed said the club was similar to homeless projects run by churches in Reading and that volunteers were happy to discuss faith with the homeless, but would not preach.
He said: "The problem of homelessness is only going to be solved if people muck in.
"What we saw in Oxford really motivated us and we are working with Satty Mann who knows a lot of the homeless, and they relate to her."
Ahmed has received donations from the Asian community to fund the lunch club and is supported by UK Halal Meat Ltd, in Wokingham Road.
"We had requests for bangers and mash, so Halal Meat got us beef sausages.
"We serve shepherd’s pie, wraps, we mix it up, and there are cake and custard for dessert.
"We hope it might remind them of happier times."
Shaheen Rashid, who runs the charity with Ahmed, said food could break down barriers.
Rashid, a mother-of-four from Lower Earley, said: "The first week a man came in and said he was vegetarian and I was able to offer him chick-pea curry, but he wouldn’t make eye contact.
"This week I remembered he was vegetarian and I also remembered how he took his coffee so when he came in, I was able to tell him.
"He was able to make eye contact this week. It gave him that normality; he knew he was not going to be ignored."