The Sikh community in Northampton has been supporting the homeless and vulnerable for more than 40 years, but since lockdown, they have seen a huge rise in demand for their services.
They are now feeding around 300 people every week – triple the amount they were doing before.
Amarjit Singh Atwal is the Trustee for the Sikh Community Centre and Youth Club and the Siri Guru Singh Sabha Northampton.
Both charities have been working in partnership with Northampton Hope Centre to keep up with demand.
Amarjit Singh Atwal said: “Before this we were providing maybe 80-90 meals a week, but we’re probably up to maybe 300 and more some weeks so that’s the hot food side of it. We’ve now started to do a small foodbank providing food for people with a specific cultural needs, so that’s quite busy as well.
“We’ve helped people where they’ve needed furniture, so they might have been moved to somewhere where it’s a safer place for them to live. And some of the volunteers who have been in isolation have been making PPE for the general hospital.”
Sikhs in Northampton have been doing this for more than four decades – it is part of their faith to go out and help as many people as possible.
It is called sewa, which means selfless service.
Their hard work has not gone unnoticed. They recently won the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service, the highest accolade a voluntary organisation can receive.
“We were really delighted that we’d won such a big award,” Mr Singh Atwal said.
“The Sikh community in Northampton has been volunteering and working with other organisations for probably over 40 years now. It was great for us as a community to get that recognition.”
Mr Singh Atwal and his team of volunteers will continue to help out as long as they’re needed, which at this moment in time, could be for many more months to come.