Sikh helpers fear being driven out of Walsall by 'embarrassed' council.
Volunteers serve up to 100 meals a day to poverty-stricken and homeless people in Walsall.
A Sikh organisation - which has grown from feeding a handful of needy people in Walsall into a global service - fears it is being driven out of its home town. The Midland Langar Seva Society serves hundreds of hot meals to homeless and poor people every day across the UK as well as India, Germany and Bangkok. But Randhir Singh, one of the founders of the society, said they have been "stunned" by complaints from Walsall Council about the mess their evening town centre feeds leave behind.
Mr Singh said they deployed volunteers to clear up rubbish each night and had no problems with any other authority where their groups serve. Driven by the Sikh principles of helping others and stopping people from going hungry, Midland Langar Seva Society was set up in 2013 operating from the Glebe Centre in Walsall. Initially, take-up was low in the town but other groups set up elsewhere in the Midlands including Wolverhampton and Birmingham proved popular.
More groups were established up north and in Wales before the operation grew further and saw services developed across India and in Thailand and Germany. When the group returned to Walsall three years ago, demand was far higher than before and volunteers now serve between 85 and a 100 meals per day.
Mr Singh said:
"It is really sad that Walsall Council appear to be trying to stop the feeds we put on. They say we are leaving a lot of mess and they are getting complaints from market traders but we are only there for an hour and we have volunteers designated to clearing up any rubbish. We believe it is just an excuse. Perhaps they are embarrassed at how bad poverty and homelessness is in Walsall and that we are doing their job for them. We do this to follow the Sikh principle of 'seva' - serving humanity and helping those who are less fortunate than us. It is what our founder Guru Nanak Ji did. It is not just homeless people who come to us, it is people with a range of problems including mental health issues, poverty, families who are struggling to put food on the table."
"You also get professional people whose lives fell apart or those who were in the army. We try to help people get back on their feet. It is heartbreaking to see people cannot afford to buy food. As well as serving vegetarian meals, the society has distributed clothes, nappies, baby milk and toiletries. Volunteers also deliver to places including women's refuges and provide breakfast clubs at a number of schools across the West Midlands."
Mr Singh added: "Breakfast is the most important meal of the day and yet there are children as young as five who go to school on an empty stomach. We are parents and we wouldn't want our children missing out on a basic but important meal which will also benefit them in the classroom. I don't think we will stop doing this. To us, Seva comes first. God gave us everything so it is up to us to share."
Walsall Council was contacted for comment.
Copy was lifted from the Birmingham Mail. Article here.