How Mosques are Helping Birmingham’s Homeless
Categories: Latest News
Thursday February 07 2019
On the 31st of January Green Lane Masjid & Community Centre (GLM) in Birmingham launched their Winter Freeze Project and opened their doors to the homeless as evening temperatures become freezing. The idea stemmed from the concerns of Head of Welfare Services at GLM, Humayun Saeed, regarding about the number of rough sleepers on the streets in cold weather and believed his belief that it was is an “Islamic duty to help” if people are in need.
Following news of a homeless man freezing to death in Birmingham’s city centre, the mosque opened its doors for the homeless, providing shelter in the large community hall, as well as food and warm drinks. The entire project is community funded and led, with takeaways and restaurants in the local area donating food that is distributed by volunteers from the congregation, some donating their time for an overnight stay.
Despite the Government pledging £1.2bn to tackle all forms of homelessness, it is an epidemic that is on the rise. Housing charity Shelter said that there are likely to be over 320,000 homeless individuals in 2018, a figure that is a 4% increase from the year before, equating to 36 new individuals becoming homeless every day. This figure does not include “hidden homelessness”, where vulnerable individuals sleep on spare sofas or cars, which is estimated to be one in five young people.
The All-Party Parliamentary Group on British Muslims has noted the immense contribution that British Muslim charities have made towards ending homelessness. In 2017, Muslim organisations assisted over 300,000 people by distribution meals, drinks, winter packs and over £350,000 in donations. Sufra Northwest London, for example, has utilised a community kitchen whilst investing over £100,000 to provide emergency food. Similarly, the InTouch Foundation, set up by Osman Gondal, has distributed over 200,000 meals since its inception in Bradford. Likewise, last winter, mosques in Greater Manchester and Stoke on Trent opened their doors and invited in rough sleepers away from freezing temperatures, often with the help of taxi drivers dropping off those in need of shelter.
As well as helping with the homeless, Green Lane Masjid & Community Centre provide counselling services, sports classes, marriage services, and funeral arrangements. Mosques in across the UK offer similar services for their congregations and hold, holding an important leadership and pastoral role for their community.
Within public and political discourse, many have frequently pointed to a supposed clash between “British values” and Islam. However, a YouGov poll commissioned by the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) found that almost 70% of Britons had not seen inside another a place of worship other than their own and almost 90% had never been inside of a mosque.
The 3rd of March 2019 is Visit My Mosque Day, a national initiative facilitated by the Muslim Council of Britain. MEND encourages all to participate by visiting a local mosque and seeing how Muslims contribute to their local community.