Abby's Journey of Volunteering with Emerge
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The best thing about PSR are the people, often dedicating their time to helping others, volunteering, and taking part in charity work; providing support in many ways to help those less fortunate than themselves. Unfortunately, many people find themselves in difficult situations, which are often unavoidable and out of their control, resulting in families who are homeless and unable to provide for themselves. The pandemic has added to this number dramatically, as many families have found themselves in financial crisis after losing their jobs.
Fortunately, there are charities such as MLSS, Midland Langar Seva Society, that impact the community and the homeless by providing them with hot meals and a place where they can go for a conversation. Narinder Rehal, our Mechanical & Electrical Consultant, has volunteered for MLSS for two years and explains what the charity means to her and the community.
Who are MLSS?
MLSS was established in Walsall in October 2013, and it provides hot food and drink to those living on the street, schools, safe houses, and those on the poverty line. They operate on a Sikh based ethos, where we help everyone regardless of social status. The concept was taken from traditional Sikh templates which offered these services, and the concept was to take this to the streets and make is accessible for everybody.
When do they operate?
Every day, Monday - Sunday, rain or shine (including lockdown). There are 26 locations across the UK, and around 6-12 individuals volunteer at each location for one hour in the evening to assist with the supplying of food to homeless and low-income individuals. Over 200 people are fed every night at each area, and on average, 35,000 meals are distributed weekly (including international projects). Narinder volunteers monthly at Birmingham City Centre, her local community event.
Where are they based?
The charity is national but also reach out internationally too. The furthest they've volunteered is India, where UK volunteers flew out to one of the largest protests ever recorded and fed those who needed help. They also support orphanages, refugee camps and schools. Throughout lockdown they assisted with care packages and food to children who would usually be fed at school, and their biggest event of the year is in the Christmas Eve Feed, which takes places at Birmingham New Street Station, and is aired on BBC News. They were even awarded a 'Pride of Britain award' in 2020 for the incredible work they do.
“Seeing how important one meal is and the difference it can make to someone…not everyone is homeless, some are just about getting by and this really helps…"
Diljinder Sanghera, MLSS Birmingham Co-ordinator
Speaking to Narinder Rehal on her experience at the charity…
What's great about the charity and the work you all do?
What’s great is that the charity provides for the homeless every day. It never stops nor is it seasonal. This is priceless having a structure to those less fortunate and require our help consistently. I have met some fantastic volunteers who have now become great friends. This charity is fun, hardworking, and very selfless in the work we do.
The name ‘Seva’ for Sikhs means ‘selfless service’. This has been taught to me from a young age from my parents and combing this with a charity who feed the homeless was very close to my heart. The work we do makes you realise that anyone can be homeless, become homeless or just needs a little help to have even 1 hot meal a day. Especially with COVID people losing their jobs we were available to serve families who were in financial crises.
"To be able to be a part of a charity like MLSS gives me joy, a reason to serve my community and help others the homeless."
Narinder Rehal, PSR M&E Recruitment Consultant
What impact do you and the charity have on the community?
We impact the community and the homeless as they rely on us to provide them meals. In fact, the meal we serve could be the only meal they have access to all day... without the charity some will starve, not eat and get ill. We have those that come to see us just to have a conversation or simply wave hello as they are alone. There are many different people who are homeless or require food to eat and without the service we have no awareness to build more teams and further expand to other locations. Our communities create sponsors, fundraising events, awareness, donations, volunteers etc.
What made you want to volunteer?
Not so long ago I lost my whole world, we lost our home due to a personal situation. My children and I were homeless. I registered homeless on a waiting list as well as trying to find a way to get to a new city and live with my parents (which believe me was complicated). This taught me a great deal how ‘your life can change in a heartbeat’.
I promised myself from that day that I will serve the community, but it had to be specific to the homeless. I completed my application and was accepted and now, 2 years later I’m still here. I love what I do as well as fully support the work of MLSS. I also wanted to "Give2Give" a great lesson I learnt from Luke Staton, a motivational speaker and coach, who I met through the training and development sessions at PSR.
If you'd like to volunteer for MLSS or would like more information on the charity click here:https://www.midlandlangarseva.org/.
To donate directly to the charity visit https://www.totalgiving.co.uk/charity/midland-langar-seva-society.