With the Open Kitchen celebrating its second anniversary, the initiative driven by Islamic values has left a positive mark on the community of Hounslow. Since its inception, 100,000 nutritious meals have been distributed, including the introduction of home deliveries this year, to the elderly and those in isolation since the pandemic. The Open Kitchen, a friendly and warm space, offers those that enter its doors, the dignity and respect they deserve.
James Murphy, an Open Kitchen service user, has lived in Hounslow for 15 years and talks about how the initiative has changed his life. 'Since I’ve come out 18 months ago, the Open Kitchen has provided me with two hot meals every day, so I have not had to steal food and be forced to get involved in criminal activity. The management here are so friendly and help me when I am feeling down. This place has saved me, showed me love, and has prevented me from going back to prison'.
Ruth Cadbury, MP for Brentford and Isleworth, praised the performance of the initiative in the House of Parliament stating, ‘Muslim Hands has a beautiful partnership plan in Hounslow, which is providing assistance to every deserving person without discrimination'.
Sunny Kharbanda, a volunteer at the Open Kitchen, was diagnosed with stage four cancer but continues to deliver food to those who need it. He said, 'I was devastated that I may not be able to continue making a positive difference to the lives of so many that were in need in these unprecedented times. After consulting with my doctor, it was agreed that I would be allowed to leave my home just to continue my volunteer work. I am immensely proud to have made of positive difference to the lives of so many people, not just personally, but the collective efforts of the strong team of volunteers which has really helped hundreds if not thousands of residents in these tough times'.
Forecasters are predicting a colder winter than usual this year. For many that are homeless and living below the poverty line, this news is added hardship to an already difficult year. Over 4,200 people are sleeping rough every night in the UK. Muslim Hands through the Open Kitchen will distribute winter relief packs and hygiene kits, to ensure protection against the elements and pandemic. The winter relief packs will contain warm clothing accessories and a sleeping bag whilst the hygiene kits will include everyday essentials such as hand sanitisers, soap, and masks.
‘We are not only seeing nourishment for the body, but the extension of support is now keeping people warm throughout the winter. People across our communities are seeing many hardships. As their income levels drop because of jobs under threat, vital corners are being cut in families. I very much welcome the example being set by Muslim Hands, through the Open Kitchen in our community, of love, friendship, and support. This comes through the volunteers and staff of all ages and backgrounds, and is a true example of service in action’, said Seema Malhotra, MP for Feltham and Heston.
1 in 5 people in the UK struggle to put food on the table. Eight months into the pandemic and the situation has drastically deteriorated. Over 1 million more people are to face poverty at the end of 2020 as a result of the pandemic, with 200,000 of those being children – IPPR.
'The Open Kitchen is testament to our Islamic faith, where we are reminded of the teachings of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), that he is not a believer whose stomach is filled while his neighbour goes hungry. The service users that walk through the doors, symbolise diversity and social cohesion, and make up people from all faiths, backgrounds, and walks of life. We are proud of the legacy that we have planted in the heart of Hounslow. We owe it all to our dedicated and hardworking volunteers that continue to do such a tremendous job, despite the difficult climate', said Shakil Sidat, Muslim Hands UK Programmes Director.
Notes to editors
- Spokesperson available to discuss the Open Kitchen initiative – Ehsan Shahid, 07801179990
- The Open Kitchen is open seven days a week – food service 1pm-2pm. To find out more, call Ehsan Shahid at 07801179990.
- Established in 1993, Muslim Hands is an international aid agency and NGO dedicated to providing emergency relief and tackling the root causes of poverty around the world.
- The UK Department of Health defines ‘food poverty’ as ‘the inability to afford, or to have access to food to make up a healthy diet'.
- In the UK 300,000 people are affected by homelessness: roughly 1 in every 200 people.
- 14.3 million in the UK live in poverty with more than 4 million people of those in deep poverty according to the Social Metrics Commission.
- Sahirah Javaid – Senior Press Officer / Sahirah.firstname.lastname@example.org / 07736344899